Josh Marshall's a smart guy, but I think he's about as wrong as wrong can be on the public option.
Now, there are many people who look at this and say that the bill(s) under discussion are so anemic that they're maybe not worth fighting for at all. And that's certainly a legitimate opinion. But I think there's another question. Considering how down to the wire this is, is it really worth holding up everything else contained in the bill when the point of contention, the public option, is as measly as it is?The same thing probably could have been argued about the first version of Social Security or the first version of Medicare - "It's measly, so what's the big deal if it doesn't pass." Well, whether you like or hate the current version of those programs, I don't think you're apt to argue that they're "no big deal". People like David Frum and Martin Feldstein wouldn't be telling us that any public option, no matter how "measly", will inexorably bring about the end of private health insurance if the opponents of the public option shared Marshall's perspective. It's easy to hobble the public option, version 1, but it's very difficult to stop the public option from later being made viable.
Marshall follows up with a valid point about "up and down" votes, but I think he's jumping the gun:
If you go back to the earlier part of this decade when the cloture/filibuster issue became a big deal, largely on the Supreme Court nominations front, the right made a big push on the outside about the issue of allowing up or down votes (i.e., 51 vote majorities) simply as a matter of principleSo why not do that right now? Because the bill is advancing without that type of push. The best time to call for an "up or down vote", and to press people to "allow an up or down vote" is when the bill's up for final passage. Do that too soon and not only do you give opponents of the bill time to prepare and rehearse rebuttals, you risk inspiring a yawn from the media on the fourth, fifth or sixth round of voting when you want the headline to be, "Health reform opponents block up or down vote."