Sen. Lindsey Graham reveals backroom deal making with Sen. Ron Wyden on the public option
August 13, 2009 -- While Sen. Ron Wyden has said he’s “open to a national public health plan option,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Wyden told him and Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah early on that he was willing to “get off the public option” in order to earn their support.
The bill draws criticism from progressive reformers because it does not include a national public health plan option. Instead, his bill calls for state-based public plans with certain triggers.
For this approach, the bill enjoys the most bi-partisan support out of any of the healthcare reform bills drafted so far. It also signals Wyden’s and other Democrat’s willingness to abandon the public option, even though a majority of Americans in multiple polls
favor the idea.
From the interview with Graham that appeared in Tuesday’s Oregonian and online here
Q: Would you vote for the Wyden-Bennett bill?
A: Yes. There are a couple of things I'd like to see changed, if possible. But yes.
There are some people on the Wyden-Bennett bill who are probably there for political cover, because they need to be for something. But that's a good thing, not a bad thing. You've rejected the idea of saying "no" as a safe harbor for you politically. The encouraging thing about this op-ed piece
is not so much that everyone would vote for the bill as is. It's that 15 people see the benefit of trying versus just saying "no." And some of them are in states that are very blue or very red.
You know, this is not smart politics for Ron Wyden. He comes from [Oregon,] a very blue state. He's getting the crap kicked out of him. I wanted to jump on this bill like I wanted a hole in my head. But he is so persistent. He was willing to say to Bennett and me and others that he'll get off the public option. I wanted to help him. A guy like him is necessary. A guy like [Utah's Robert] Bennett is necessary. There's a comfort zone in politics where you just say no to the other side and it'll be okay. But the country is changing. Those who step out of that zone will be rewarded. We're a ways off yet, on immigration and health care and Social Security. But the day is coming when the people like Ron Wyden will be seen as the solution and not the problem.
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