Thursday, October 15, 2009

Is Harry Reid Working The Inside Game For A Public Option?

From TPM here.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn't exactly accustomed to kind words from progressives these days. With a health care reform fight that feels endless, and an intractable bloc of conservative Democrats refusing to play nice on the public option, Reid has become a common whipping boy for activists who think he hasn't done enough to strong arm his 60 voting members into giving health care reform an up or down vote.

So it comes as some surprise that two prominent progressive figures, approached by TPMDC, said that much has changed since the summer--and particularly in the last couple weeks--and that Reid is working the inside game for the public option.

"Reid and/or his staff has been in practically hourly conversations with a whole set of progressive players re how best to make sure we position ourselves to get a strong public option coming out of conference committee," said one progressive strategist, who asked not to be named. "He hasn't made any final procedural decisions yet RE how to get that done, but he's having really honest conversations [about] all his major options, pros and cons of each, etc. I'm actually pretty impressed, at least right now."

The source adds, "He and his staff are much more engaged with both pro-public option activists and Senators over the last couple of weeks.... But he does seem to have a new sense of religion [with respect to] figuring out how to maximize our chances for the best possible public option coming out of conference."

Approached by TPMDC, a prominent progressive health care leader echoed this conclusion. "Harry Reid sincerely wants to get a public option and he's doing everything he can to figure out how," the second source added.

An optimistic Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told TPMDC, "We talk to him, he doesn't have to reach very far. He's listening, clearly Reid's listening on all this on the public option." . . .

Sherrod Brown is no BSer.

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