The phone has already started ringing, and you can be sure that the news will be awash tonight with predictions on what Senator Olympia Snowe’s “yes” vote on the Senate Finance Committee bill. Here are my first thoughts:
- This is really bad news for Republicans. If Senator Snowe will vote “yes”, there is absolutely no way they will be able to filibuster this bill. Since opposition was their tactic, will they now try and negotiate?
- Moreover, now that the Democrats will be able to point to a “reasonable” Republican, will more defect?
- This means it is unlikely that there will be a robust public option in the final bill. I doubt the White House will want to lose their chance at a “bipartisan” bill. Nor will the Senate. I think they will make sure to retain Senator Snowe’s “yes” vote.
- Many conservative Democrats just lost bargaining power. It will be hard to oppose a bill that a Republican supports.
- Maybe Senator Baucus did know what he was doing. I sure missed it.
Bottom line, I think this makes it pretty likely that we will see health care reform passed. I think this will change the whole discussion.
UPDATE: I was a bit too exuberant in my final statement. I changed the text to hedge a little bit.