HEALTH CARE ROUND-UP…. It’s the first day back from the August recess on Capitol Hill, and there were quite a few developments of note.
* A few weeks ago, 60 progressive House members said a public option is “essential” in a health care reform bill. Today, Roll Call reports that at least four of them would be satisfied with a “trigger” compromise.
* Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has finally released his reform bill. Putting another nail in the coffin of the Gang of Six, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is reportedly unimpressed with the Baucus plan.
* President Obama will lay out his vision for reform tomorrow night, but as of today, the White House does not intend to present Congress with a bill of its own.
* House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters today the House may be able to pass a reform plan without a public option. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the opposite.
* We haven’t heard too much from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) lately. Today, she said she’s “opposed” to a public option, and described the “trigger” as a “better approach.” She stopped far short, though, of endorsing the policy.
* Any chance that a “trigger” compromise might satisfy the concerns of right-wing lawmakers? Of course not. Today, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said a public option a “terrible idea,” whether it comes now or in the future. He also insisted, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the public is “clear” in its “firm opposition” to a public option.
* Similarly, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Texas), the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also believes the “trigger” policy is unacceptable. “The vast majority of CPC is not prepared to wave a white flag on public option,” he said today. “A trigger would be a surrender.”
* Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) noted today that Senate Republicans haven’t negotiated in “good faith.”
* Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) told reporters today that if President Obama drops the public option and the idea of non-profit co-ops, there could be “tremendous progress” on bipartisan reform. (Note to White House: please don’t believe him — Crapo’s Lucy holding the ball, you’re Charlie Brown.)
* There are 435 members of the House, 256 of whom are Democrats. To pass a bill, the majority will need 218 votes, meaning the Dems could afford to lose only 38 members of their own caucus (assuming no Republicans vote for reform, which seems like a safe bet). The Hill reports that “at least 23” House Dems are now on record opposing existing reform efforts.
Not exactly slow on the first day back from the break.