Although a host of progressive fundraising e-mails and rants on Democratic e-mail lists suggest otherwise, at no time has a robust public option been considered by Congress. In fact, the House bill has the potential to feature higher short-term premiums than comparable private plans, while the public option scrapped from the Senate bill would have affected only 2 percent of the country.
The problem, though, is that a host of progressive leaders, like Dean and Moulitsas, mistakenly told the masses the public option was essential to reform when, in actuality, it was - and is - inconsequential. Its parameters were narrow, its costs weren't lower, and its access was minimal.
This is the problem I personally have with 3,000+ page "comprehensive" bills, 10 months of wheeling and dealing, and the political culture circus that has defined both extremes around this debate (I'm looking at you Sarah "Death Panel" Palin). You have the real bill, and the idea of the bill. (Reconciling ideas with reality seems to be a big problem for Americans.)
At this point, I've mostly written off this bill as doomed to failure. All the extremes despise it, and the extremes unfortunately dominate our politics.
Every time I read or hear someone say something about it that I can finally get behind or object to, it seems that individual isn't really talking about something in the bill. This is infuriating. I can only hope that, whatever this bill does, that it will torpedo our current system in such a way that real reform can happen in the next several years.
But if reform could not pass on the Federal level with Obama in the White House with a mandate for change, control of the House, and a 60 vote Democratic majority in the Senate, then progressive populists will have to accept that real reform will have to focus on the states, localities and organizations that are more receptive and agile in implementing policy.