Snowe falls?

SNOWE FALLS?…. On Friday, we talked about Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine, who hosted a “listening session” on health care reform last week. The Bangor Daily News quoted Snowe saying all the right things, voicing optimism for legislative action: “This is precisely the right time” for national reform, Snowe said. She added that the existing system is “totally dysfunctional.”

The local paper added, “While like most Republicans she would prefer to see the private sector collaborate on an effective change, a government-run health care system may be the only way to get the job done, she said.”

So, is this an accurate reflection of Snowe’s position? Greg Sargent followed up with the senator’s office.

Because this would be pretty significant, I wanted to nail down whether Snowe really said this. Her spokesperson, Julia Wanzco, disputed the report, saying it was a mischaracterization of her views. She emailed:

“It is clear that current insurance markets are not working properly. The solution lies in reforming and regulating markets to produce greater competition and lower costs, and ensure consumers are protected. Merely inserting a government plan into the market is no panacea, and should be a last resort.”

Well, that’s not quite as encouraging as the paraphrase from last week’s event in Maine. As Greg noted, Wanzco’s statement “seems like cause for considerably less optimism.”

True, but I’m kinda sorta hopeful anyway. Snowe has long been inclined to tackle market reforms in health care, and her office’s statement to Greg isn’t too different from what the senator has said before.

Snowe must be open to some compromise with Democrats, if she’s willing to even put “a government plan” on the table as a possible solution.

Ezra has more on where Snowe is coming from on this.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.