Opting Optics

by digby

John Harwood interviewed Ben Nelson's hair earlier today and it said that it believed that no bill would pass with a public option that "destabilized the insurance industry," and then repeated that it believed there would be an "opt-in" clause of some sort.

Harwood: You'd agree that unless a comprehensive health care bill would pass that it would cripple his presidency.

Nelson's hair: Well, I don't know that we should conclude that some form of health care reform won't pass. I believe that some form of health care will pass.

Harwood: What in your mind are stoppers, things that, knowing this place, things that either because you oppose them or other senators oppose them, simply can 't be in the final product to have it pass?

Nelson's hair: Well, it's very difficult to see how that CLASS Act that was in the HELP committe bill would make it [that's long term care provisions] I think also any kind of public option that would undermine or destabilize the private insurance that 200 million Americans have, I don't see that that would make it. But some version such as an opt-in, for the states with a state option, that could very well be in.

Harwood then interviewed Jeff Zelaney of the NY Times, who pointed out (as Harwood failed to do) that Nelson is a former Insurance Company executive and therefore has something of an agenda. And then he said this:

The White House right now is sort of leaving these moderate Democrats alone a little bit at least that's what they're saying. They're not having them into the White House for public meetings because that's not helpful. That's not helpful to Blanche Lincoln at home in Arkansas to be seen coming into the White House for meetings with President Obama. So right now, they're trying to give them a little bit of space and hope that they sign on to this opt-in public option.
Maybe Zelaney misspoke there. But I am still suspicious that there might be a play to make opt-in the reasonable alternative to opt-out. It just keeps cropping up in all kinds of places, often from White House reporters. It's worth keeping an eye on anyway.

Harwood thinks that Nelson will stick with them on cloture and I haven't heard otherwise. (and if Harwood asked him he didn't say, the putz.) But he certainly keeps dangling himself out there as a vote for opt-in, so if this thing really comes down to the wire I could see it happening. Again, I don't think the village media have clue about just how different the two things are. It's just bumper sticker slogans to them.