DETAILS, DETAILS…. On Tuesday night in the Senate, five center-left Dems and five center-right Dems emerged from negotiations with an apparent compromise. The agreement’s framework included the Medicare buy-in, the national, non-profit OPM plan, a triggered public option, and some additional still-undefined industry regulations.
Yesterday, as the dust settled on the negotiations, senators seemed relatively optimistic, though a tad confused.
Senate Democrats said on Wednesday that they were not sure exactly what was in a deal that the majority leader said would surmount a disagreement over a proposed government-run health plan. But they voiced guarded optimism that it would ultimately help them pass major health care legislation.
Rank-and-file Democrats said the preliminary agreement — reached among a group of 10 senators, 5 liberals and 5 centrists — suggested that they would be able to resolve some seemingly intractable differences over the public plan, insurance coverage for abortions and other disputes, including how to pay for the nearly $1 trillion bill. […]
“Any big agreement is progress,” said Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania. “Even if we do not know any of the details.”
By all appearances, Tuesday night’s breakthrough wasn’t so much a “deal” as it was an outline. The principals seem to have decided to keep the process moving, not by reaching a formal agreement, but by sending their collection of ideas to the Congressional Budget Office for an evaluation.
“I don’t know what the deal is,” Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.) said as he emerged Wednesday night from a Democratic caucus meeting. “But I think at the end of the day that we’ll have 60 votes.”
Perhaps. Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) suggested tentative support for the compromise framework. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) also generally approves of the compromise, though it’s unclear if the abortion language may push him to back a Republican filibuster. Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine didn’t rush to say much of anything, though Snowe seems to reject the Medicare expansion provision.
And Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) continues to be indecipherable. “It sounded last night from the proposals being discussed that they met that test — that the public option was basically gone,” Lieberman told reporters yesterday afternoon. “But then this morning the papers were saying it’s still in. So, I’ve got to wait and see.”
Obviously, a whole lot is riding on that CBO score.