SNOWE COOL TO PUBLIC OPTION COMPROMISES…. Since Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is apparently the most influential lawmaker in the known universe, it’s probably worth keeping an eye on her public comments regarding health care reform.

This morning, for example, she appeared on MSNBC and again criticized the public option.

“The public option would be problematic,” Snowe told MSNBC’s Morning Joe when asked what changes to the bill could cost Democrats her vote. “As I’ve said I’m against a public option because I think the government would be another vast new bureaucracy, and also create a disproportionate advantage in the marketplace. And inevitably government’s not going to do it better.”

Actually, that’s not “inevitable” at all. Government can most certainly do it better, and already has in the cases of Medicare and the VA system.

OK, but how about the opt-out compromise that generated some excitement last week?

Snowe also indicated opposition to an “opt-out” public plan that would allow states to choose whether to participate.

“I have concerns about that because that could be another way of opting into having a public option plan all across the country,” Snowe told ABC.

Actually, yes, that’s kind of the point. There’d be a national plan in place, but states that didn’t want to participate wouldn’t have to. Consumers would have a choice, and states would have a choice.

So, what would Snowe accept? She’s still fond of that trigger idea.

“I would prefer to let the private sector to work through these reforms that we are going to require of them and with the amount of tax credits and subsidies and the exchange that is going to leverage competition and offer choices, that we can make the marketplace perform.”

“If not, I have recommended having a safety net, a fallback, of a public option to kick in immediately if affordable choices aren’t available to people in any given area of the country,” she added. “That may be a resolution to this problem.”

“There are going to be a lot of market reforms and a lot of prohibitions against practices that the industry has engaged in historically,” she continued. “Those practices will come to an end and they are going to have to live up to a certain standard. If they don’t, then you could have the public option kick in immediately.”

I see. So Snowe perceives reform driving tens of millions of consumers into the waiting arms of private insurers. No one would have the choice of a public option, but if the insurance industry continued to screw over its customers fell short of Snowe’s expectations, then we could have a public option.

Tim F. suggested, “Write a decent health care bill and dare Olympia Snowe to filibuster it. She won’t.” We’ll see if it comes to that.

Steve Benen

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.