Two amendments seeking to introduce a provision for the public option in the Senate Finance Committee–one from Senator Rockefeller, and another from Senator Schumer–were defeated yesterday, representing a serious setback for public option advocates. Max Baucus is now saying that there is no way to get to 60 votes in the senate with a bill advocating the public option. Kent Conrad, who serves as the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is resolutely against the option. I suppose that one way to force the option through is if Democrats opt for reconciliation in order to pass health care through the Senate, but using reconciliation will bring about open political warfare, which is why Democrats have backed off thus far.
The chances appear stronger that the public option is simply dead. There are plenty of other provisions in the emerging health care reform legislation that are objectionable, but one of the most objectionable pieces of the legislation seems to be in its death throes.