(Friday) night Senate leadership brought together key progressive and ConservaDems to try to find middle ground.
On hand were Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)--who's been trying to broker a compromise between competing factions for months--Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)--who's been floating a potential compromise modeled on Olympia Snowe's trigger--and Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Ben Nelson (D-NE).
According to Rockefeller, the range of views is an indication that things are coming down to the wire.
"There's no question about that," Rockefeller told reporters. "This should have started a long time ago and thankfully Harry Reid caught it in time to put us together."
Those in attendance were tight-lipped about the developments, describing the meetings, in broad terms, as positive and productive.
Meanwhile, Lieberman isn't budging on the public option--no way no how in any form regardless of triggers or anything else. It seems like Blanche Lincoln has decided to take the same position:
"I’ve been very clear, I don’t support a public option that is government-funded or government-run that puts the taxpayer at risk in the long run," Lincoln said.
The Arkansas lawmaker said she would even oppose setting the public option to a trigger if the insurance program ultimately implemented would be controlled or funded by the government.
We're back where we started. Any kind of trigger that would be acceptable to Snowe would probably have to be her trigger, the Catch-22 designed to never trigger. To meet Lincoln's standard, it would have to not be a public option at all, and to lose any administrative operating advantage it would have, rendering it pretty toothless in terms of competing with private industry. Could there be a trigger that would work, a la the Urban Institute paper? Sure, in a world where these same obstructionist "moderate" Republicans and ConservaDems would agree to a strong public option that would actually be triggered. These guys won't even agree to the opt-out, so that seems highly unlikely.
It would appear that progressives are taking as hard a line in these negotiations, that continued (Saturday) morning.
That could happen (Sunday), as Obama is scheduled to meet with the entire caucus (today) at 2:00.
On Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the staunchest public option supporter, indicated that he will not concede anything.
He said a morning meeting with Senate leadership was about telling them "that there have been a number of compromises already on the public option and enough is enough. We've compromised enough."
"My own view is we need to strengthen the public option, not weaken it from where we are now," he said, adding that he wasn't sure whether there would be another meeting.
Sanders was seen huddling with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), another public option supporter, outside the conference room this morning, discussing their talking points before walking into the meeting.
Brown has urged Obama to get more involved in the negotiations, hoping that a personal pitch from the president will move reluctant members of the caucus.
Here's what Harry Reid said about Aetna dropping 650,000
The Senate goes into session at noon today, so call Cornyn and Hutchison and tell them what