“In America, People Like Choices”
That is part of a very interesting conversation that TPM’s Brian Beutler had with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY):
This evening I spoke with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who was in that infamous Thursday night meeting with President Obama and other Senate leaders–and who has been one of the most persistent advocates of a public option on Capitol Hill. As Schumer explains it, the disagreement between the White House and Senate wasn’t substantive so much as it was tactical: The White House had its doubts that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could really get 60 votes for a public option with an opt out for states.
“The President listened very carefully,” Schumer said in an interview moments ago. “He wanted to make sure that the strategy upon which we were embarking had the ability to carry through.”
Schumer has been at the center of the fight over the public option from the earliest days of the health care debate–always there to pull it back from the brink when it at times seemed on the verge of collapse. This situation was no different. After the Thursday meeting, four sources in different Democratic offices told me that the White House had suggested they believed a strategy of pursuing Sen. Olympia Snowe’s preferred compromise–a triggered public option–might be an easier path to 60 votes. In the end, though, Schumer and the rest of leadership seem to have prevailed upon President Obama that they’ve picked the right strategy.
“I think substantively the White House probably preferred a stronger public option than a trigger,” Schumer said. “We talked about this for a while in leadership and the White House wanted to hear our thoughts–and when they heard them they thought that this was the right strategy to get our caucus together.”