SCHUMER PREDICTS PUBLIC OPTION…. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) of New York has been doing a lot of valuable heavy lifting on health care this year, and yesterday, he went so far as to offer something of a guarantee about a key provision in the reform debate.

“Make no mistake about it, the president is for [a public option] strongly. There will be a public option in the final bill,” Schumer said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

Schumer made his prediction just days before the Senate returned to the work of getting a bill passed by the first week of August amid significant disagreement between Democrats and Republicans — and among Democrats themselves — over controversial issues such as the public option.

He added, “We want it to be a fair level playing field, but you need something to keep the big boys honest. And the only thing that really is out there is a public option. We don’t trust the private insurance companies left to their own devices, and neither do the American people.”

Schumer also said the public plan is all the more likely given President Obama’s support, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s support, and the commitment on the part of House lawmakers.

That last point was bolstered by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) remarks on Fox News: “We think there’s going to be a public option. Yes, we think we need that. We need to make sure that there is an option available for public that can’t get through at the private insurance. We think that’s essential if you’re going to have access.”

For his part, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said House Republicans are open to health care discussions, just so long as the majority party agrees from the outset that the reform plan has no public option, no employer mandate, no individual mandate, and no tax increases.

And House Republicans wonder why they’re not invited to more policy discussions.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.