A list or a ransom note?

A LIST OR A RANSOM NOTE?…. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has a few thoughts about the kind of changes he’d like to see on the health care reform bill. In fact, he has two pages of ideas, which he’s already delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

“There is not a lot of explanation there. These are just items,” Nelson said.

What’s on it? Public option, abortion, and CLASS Act, among other things.

“There will be a lot of discussion back and forth about what might get enough votes,” Nelson said after the vote. “There will have to be fairly significant changes for others as well, not just me…. Nuance will not be enough.”

I haven’t seen the actual list, but at this point, I’m not altogether sure what any of this means. Nelson hasn’t included “a lot of explanation” with his demands? Wouldn’t “a lot of explanation” be helpful under the circumstances?

He isn’t exactly a rookie. If Nelson has some specific ideas about policy improvements, he should, you know, craft legislative language, put together proposed amendments, start seeking co-sponsors, etc. Handing Reid a list of “just items” doesn’t sound especially constructive.

For that matter, it’d be helpful to know if this is a list or a ransom note. Does Nelson intend to join a Republican filibuster if only some of his list is addressed to his satisfaction?

As the process moves forward, keep in mind that Nelson appears to have a hierarchy of concerns in mind. Just a few days ago, the conservative Democrat said he doesn’t like the existing restrictions on abortion funding, but added, “If there’s no public option, perhaps some of the [abortion] problem goes away.”

In other words, Nelson has a list, but his top target is the public option. I suspect the other center-right members of the caucus are thinking along the same lines.