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First Senate Dem Comes Out Against the Public Option

September 2, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Yesterday, Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] became the first Democrat in the Senate to say flatly that she would vote against the health care bill if it includes a public option:

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln said today she opposes a public health insurance option because it would be too expensive.

“For some in my caucus, when they talk about a public option they’re talking about another entitlement program, and we can’t afford that right now as a nation,” Lincoln said in a speech to the Elder Law Task Force at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Lincoln has said previously she would support whatever health care plan worked, but she indicated Tuesday that a plan including an expensive, government-funded health insurance program would not get her vote.

“I’m not going to vote for a bill that’s not deficit-neutral, and I’m not going to vote for a bill that doesn’t do something about curbing the cost in the out years, because it would be pointless … I would not support a solely government-funded public option. We can’t afford that,” Lincoln told reporters before her speech.

Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman [I, CT], who caucuses with the Democrats, has said that he would prefer not to have the public option, and a handful of other Democrats have been dubious about it. Lincoln’s statement basically cements the fact that if the Democrats want a public option, they’ll have to go through reconciliation. Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME] is the only Republican who could possibly be willing to vote for a public option. But with Lincoln out, even if both Snowe and Lieberman voted “yes” (a very unlikely scenario), the numbers wouldn’t be there for the Democrats to overcome an inevitable filibuster.

UPDATE: TPM is asking, is Lincoln really against the public option plan that is being proposed, or is she against a version of it that’s not even on the table? It’s true that the public option plan in the House bill would be financed by individual premiums and wouldn’t cost the government anything (the $2 billion in start-up funding would get paid back). But Lincoln’s remarks that the public option would be too expensive sounds a lot like how most public-option opponents see it. I’ll update again when there is some clarification.

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  • jake4u25 09/02/2009 12:50pm

    In California we are the eight largest economy ,and we Need some help with our health care. Most of us do not have health care, and wait until it is to late before getting a doctor to look at us. Please help us.

  • oderintdummetuant 09/02/2009 6:02pm

    Where does California stand nationally in terms of debt? True or not true, California has the largest individual debt of any other state?

  • need_to_comment 09/03/2009 7:25am

    I read this article without looking at who wrote it, until I read the update. When the author stated that the public option would be funded by individual premiums and I thought this must be Donny Shaw. Government programs always run in the red, sooner or later. Social Security = Bankrupt. Medicare / Medicaid = Bankrupt in a decade. So the intention maybe to have no taxpayer liability, we all know once it is started it can’t be stopped, so if it goes bankrupt, the taxpayer will have to fund it.

  • Anonymous 09/04/2009 6:32pm

    It’s official. Lincoln is bought and paid for by the HMOs.

  • Anonymous 09/05/2009 5:07pm

    I wrote an email to her office asking her some questions about her position…no reply.

  • pcoppney 09/06/2009 11:23am

    So, the end of the filibuster proof health care reform begins.

  • Anonymous 09/07/2009 2:52am
    This site by a former lawyer whose expertise is constitutional law explains the unconstitutionality of this bill and particularly the public option.
    The various provisions pertaining to our keeping our own insurance are the most dangerous because there would be no going back as he explains in his articles and in the 7th comment to his articles at this site.

    The articles at this site are written be a retired lawyer whose expertise is in constitutional law and his concern about the healthcare bill. His comments are on the current version HR3200, but his points of unconsitutionality are what we need to watch in any further versions.
    Be sure and read the comments too.

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