A Public Option Would Sure Fix Democrats' CBO Troubles

Why have we not yet seen a reconciliation bill with a final CBO score? It needs to be made public today if they want to have it online for 72 hours before a planned Saturday vote. The answer seems to be that they are having trouble putting together a reconciliation bill that the CBO will project as saving a sufficient amount of money.

There is, of course, a very easy solution to the House Democrats' CBO trouble. They could add a public option or Medicare buy-in. The CBO projects that even a very weak and restricted public option would save the government $25 billion. A stronger but still restricted public option would save roughly $110 billion. Those savings would be more than large enough to produce an acceptable CBO score.

Of course, Democrats are not going to include a public option because it would ruin bipartisanship, we need Olympia Snowe, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, Dick Durbin would whip against it, the Senate does not have the votes, the Senate has the votes the House does not, it might delay the bill Obama traded it away to the for-profit hospitals in a backroom deal. Instead, I suspect that they will make up the loss by either raising more taxes or cutting much-needed aid to students and community colleges.

Have fun explaining that move Democrats. Go home and tell your constituents that not only did you deny them the public option they overwhelming want, but you decided to take money from low income college students, and use it to protect the profits of the private health insurance industry.

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