Public Option Important for Bennet in Primary

UPDATE: Westword’s blog says that Bennet was backing away from the public option on the air, but Polster redstateblues found the quote from the show, and it’s not nearly as damning:

Silverman: “Are you for a public option? Because when it comes to business, I think about the PXs on a military base, and I’ve never been able to shop there because I’m not a member of the military, but I understand they have low prices. How could King Soopers and Safeway compete with a PX?”

Bennet: “Well, I have supported… I do support a public option, and I have supported it. [Pols emphasis] Let me tell you why, and then I’ll answer your question. The reason is, that I have heard so many stories from people all over the state from people who have paid in every single year and then when they needed it or, you know, when their kid got sick, and they needed it, it wasn’t there anymore. And they are really resentful of the fact that somebody earned a profit off that commercial transaction. There are… the weird thing about insurance is that you pay for it way in advance, usually, of when you use it, and there have been a lot of folks who have had terrible experiences with that. I don’t think we should have a subsidized plan that would compete unfairly, as some have said, in the market, but I think a non-subsidized plan that, like I said, doesn’t have the high administrative costs and is available just as a choice–just as an option in the market–I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”

We still say that strong support of the public option will be critical for Bennet in a primary battle, but it definitely looks like Westword’s claim that he was “backing away” in this interview is not correct.

Original post after the jump…

We’ve written before in this space that Sen. Michael Bennet and his political advisors erred greatly in trying to make him appear as a centrist while a potential primary challenge from Andrew Romanoff was still looming. Focusing on what Bennet would present to general election voters is great if you know you won’t have a primary, but Romanoff was always the bigger threat to Bennet’s election than any Republican candidates out there.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t appear is if Bennet has learned his lesson. Or maybe nobody told him that Romanoff is running. Westword writes this morning that Bennet was backing away from the “Public Option” piece of health care reform on an appearance on KHOW radio:

Naturally, the topic of healthcare reform was front and center, and Bennet, like so many other members of his party, made it clear that a public option is no longer a make-or-break facet of the plan. Indeed, he said too much attention has been paid to this element, thereby obscuring many of the proposal’s other fine and important aspects. He also used a buzz term we’ll be hearing much more in the coming weeks: “deficit neutral” — meaning that he doesn’t want the final bill to push the nation’s finances any deeper into the red. In truth, there’s no way to say with absolute certainty that this will be the case, since any such determination will be based on projections, estimates and other sorts of guesswork — but it sounds good.

What. Are. You. Doing?

A “public option” is very popular among Democrats, and the more Bennet backs away from this, the bigger an opportunity he presents Romanoff. If we were Romanoff, we’d make certain that affirming support for a public option was one of our main talking points at tomorrow’s campaign kickoff. “Romanoff supports the public option, Bennet doesn’t,” would be a very clear delineation for Democratic voters.  

63 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. jadodd says:

    This doesn’t surprise me.  Udall will be next – despite what he says on his website.  Both Bennet and Udall were part of the 17 Consevadem Senators that met with President Obama on September 10, 2009.  The spokesman for the group stated after the meeting that the public option had to go to get passage of healthcare reform.

    It is time for Romanoff to tell us his position on the public option.

    • Colorado Pols says:

      Like it or not, Udall doesn’t have the same political worries that Bennet does. It’s idiotic for Bennet to not at least appear to be completely supportive of the public option.

      • twas brillig says:

        Michael Roberts and/or the Pols editors need back this up and clarify.

        I just listened to the whole interview, Bennet supported the public option, beat up on the insurance companies after the simpering host defended them, and supports a deficit neutral plan available as a public choice that can compete with the insurance industry and correct the market failure.

        Where’s the beef?  

        • Middle of the Road says:

          This shit, this daily dose of the Bennet vs. Romanoff, is what sells and Pols knows it. Gotta keep those advertisers happy. Gotta keep those daily hits up.  

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          He also ran a centrist campaign in a Democratic primary.  I think he got something like 12% of the vote and Polis walked away with the win by being to the left of Ted Kennedy in his ads.

          Bennet is shaping up as the Will Shafroth of 2010.  “I’m too centrist to win a primary but I would do swell in the General I think”.

          If this is going to be really good Obama/Clinton like primary and go down to the wire than Bennet should at least recognize that acting like too centrist Will Shafroth is not a good tactic.

          • redstateblues says:

            1) The CD-2 Democratic primary is not the same as a statewide primary. The only way there could be a more liberal race would be if CD-1 was up for grabs. If statewide primaries were about who has the ability to go hard enough to the left, then Ken Salazar wouldn’t have won by 30 points in 2004.

            2) How is Bennet even acting centrist on health care? He’s fiscally minded, to be sure, but he’s really sticking his neck out there by supporting health care as strongly as he has.

            3) Wil Shafroth painted himself as “non-partisan” or something (I’m referring to the “bickering children” ads here) but he hardly ran as a centrist. He was about as left as you can get on the environment, and it didn’t do him a lick of help in the primary.

            4) Polis won because he outspent everyone by a large margin. His message helped, but so did the millions of his own money he spent on non-stop television face time.

            • Gilpin Guy says:

              I didn’t keep the Will can work with anybody mailers but it was his strategy.

              In regards to your first point that CD 2 is different than a state wide election then I would counter that you have bought into the MSM narrative that real Democrats can’t win a General.  Your concept of the middle is tilted hard right and you assume that Republicans can run a candidate to the right of Ghengis Khan and win if the Democrat so much as mentions FDR in his speeches.  That smacks of a phony myth that Democrats can’t be proud to promote liberal solutions.  They have to sneak around and pretend to be Republican Lite to get elected.  The Republican brand has failed to govern spectacularly down to Reaganomics and useless wars but you continue buy into the fear that Democrats can’t get elected by promoting Democratic values and solutions.  I don’t buy it.  The middle is moving left and the only thing that can stop it is cowardice by Democratic politicians.

              • redstateblues says:

                What I’m saying is that the middle wants the middle. They don’t want liberal or conservative solutions, they want solutions that work. I think Michael Bennet is trying to find those solutions.

                And if you think that Andrew Romanoff is going to be that “real Democrat” you’ve been longing for, you’re going to have a real rude awakening if he does win the primary and the general. If he’s not liberal enough, will you be calling for a primary of Romanoff by a “real Democrat”?

                • Gilpin Guy says:

                  and the solutions of the right have been big failures.  BIG failures.  When voters voted for change in 2008, they didn’t vote to continue to pursue failed Republican policies.  The middle is moving back to the left but people continue to trumpet the “middle” as being anti-abortion Glenn Beck followers.

                  I have no idea what you consider to be middle solutions but they sound pretty squishy to me.

                  “Hi I’m from the centrist solutions party and I’ve got a deal for you.  Vote for me because I’m not extreme and will bend, fold and mutate to be whatever you think is important at the moment.  I also have no backbone and will whimper is anyone accuses me of standing on principle.”

              • twas brillig says:

                rsb’s point is that using CD-2 as an analogy for a Colorado statewide race is dumb. It’s just as dumb as using the Hillary/Obama/(Edwards?) race as an analogy.

                And at this point, only an idiot will continue blundering around trying to keep alive a DINO smear against a guy who is one of four or five US senators that’s actually been holding public town halls to sell the public option.  

                • Gilpin Guy says:

                  in leading on health care.

                  Yeah us.

                • Gilpin Guy says:

                  how about smearing someone who has actually run for office successfully and has experience in the legislative process and as a minority and majority leader?

                  • twas brillig says:

                    It’s the double standard that I find fascinating.  

                    • Gilpin Guy says:

                      Are you talking about Udall, Romanoff or Bennet?

                      Romanoff had to fight Republicans every single frakking day during the legislature.  He got to experience all of their arrogance and obstruction.  He knows the wily ways of his opposition.  If that counts as being a centrist then chalk one up for him.

                      I think the pro-Bennet folks like yourself like to talk about the being a “centrist” thing because Bennet doesn’t have any actual experience running a successful political campaign so the only thing you folks can do is project that Bennet will be popular with the anti-abortion Glenn Beck crowd.  I sincerely doubt that Bennet is going to get the Glenn Beck follower vote so how’s being a ‘centrist’ a winning strategy for a neophyte who has never run for office before?

            • Gilpin Guy says:

              This is conventional wisdom but false.  If Polis would have run the Shafroth campaign touting his mighty centrist cred, he would have lost to Joan.  rsb is highly insulting to the Democrats in CD 2 by assuming that they only voted for Polis because he spent a lot of money on TV ads.  The Polis campaign was very specific about their message and it was a very Democratic position.  He by and large has delivered on that commitment to be a fighting Democrat.  Of course money helped his campaign but if he had run the same campaign as Shafroth, he would have lost.

  2. Aaron Silverstein says:

    On labor day, he also took this position. I think it is very close to the President’s statements on the issue.

    SquareState.net

    Yes, Bennett is for a public option. His exact words were, “I think we need a public option.” I asked him if a public option is non-negotiable. Was it a line in the sand, and would he vote against a bill without it?

    “None of that is a line in the sand, and I would look to see what the best bill is that we can get passed. I want a public option in there, and I think that it should be, but the three things I absolutely need to see are: One, does it get care for the many people who are currently without insurance? Two, does it lower health care costs for the people and small businesses of Colorado? And, does it put an end to the double digit increases we have been seeing in health insurance premiums?”

    • sxp151 says:

      Just pass it with reconciliation and stop fretting over the possibility that Republicans might criticize it. I think Bennet would be on board with a vote via reconciliation, which is all we really need from him.

      • wade norris says:

        “Senator Bennet, would you vote for the public option in a reconciliation vote?”


        • roguestaffer says:

          it wouldn’t work like that, Wade. Any package that goes through the reconciliation process has to be budget-related, because that’s the whole point of the Byrd rule (where reconciliation gets its meat & bones).

          The strength & weakness of using reconciliation is that you can’t filibuster the package, but you have vote for the package as a whole, not in pieces. So if you include the public option in the reconciliation package, you wouldn’t have just a vote on the option – you’d have a vote on the whole shebang, or at least the portion going through reconciliation.  

          • wade norris says:

            honestly, a in depth discussion of the pros and cons of reconciliation would be beneficial for the readers (humbly including myself) uniformed about the intricacies of this procedure.

            • roguestaffer says:

              and writing up a diary in case reconciliation becomes more of a probability. Right now, that’s not the case.

              However, if more folks want to know how the process works, I’ll put it up.  

              • redstateblues says:

                It’s very confusing to all of us non-beltway experienced types.

              • Fidel's dirt nap says:

                I think there are a lot of us who don’t know how reconciliation particularly works, and we’re maybe heading down that road…

              • wade norris says:

                based on this diary rec’d on KOS

                http://www.dailykos.com/story/



                Since We ARE Going To Have To Use Reconciliation…

                • roguestaffer says:

                  I don’t know what Buhdydharma over at the Great Orange Satan is talking about. No one‘s made a decision to pursue health care reform through the reconciliation process.

                  We still don’t have a Senate bill – what we have is a bill from the Senate Finance Committee (which, frankly, blows, but could’ve been a LOT worse) and a bill from the Senate HELP Committee (which largely resembles the House bill – HR 3200).

                  There’s still a long ways to go on this.

                  • sxp151 says:

                    http://thehill.com/homenews/se

                    “We’ve always had a place at the table for Republicans. There’s one there today. We hope it bears fruit,” he said. “If we can’t get the 60 votes we need, then we’ll have no alternative but to use reconciliation. I strongly favor a bipartisan approach.”

                    Obviously no decision has been made yet, but I don’t think we’re far from it. Eventually Max Feckless will realize that Republicans are serious when they say none of them will vote for his bill (probably about six months after the final vote, at this pace). And reconciliation remains very much an option.

                    • roguestaffer says:

                      That said, it’s not a preferred option by any means, for reasons that I spelled out in my diary on reconciliation.  

          • sxp151 says:

            but I think it’s reasonable to rephrase Wade’s question as, “Senator Bennet (and candidate Romanoff), would you vote for a bill that used reconciliation in order to get a plan that included a public option?”

            He did vote against using reconciliation for climate change legislation, for example. So I could see him going either way.

  3. redstateblues says:

    Because Andrew Romanoff has been such a staunch supporter of public option, health care in general, or any issue really since last election.

    And for the record Pols, I think Westword got their story wrong. This is Bennet’s quote on Caplis and Silverman:

    Silverman: “Are you for a public option? Because when it comes to business, I think about the PXs on a military base, and I’ve never been able to shop there because I’m not a member of the military, but I understand they have low prices. How could King Soopers and Safeway compete with a PX?”

    Bennet: “Well, I have supported… I do support a public option, and I have supported it. Let me tell you why, and then I’ll answer your question. The reason is, that I have heard so many stories from people all over the state from people who have paid in every single year and then when they needed it or, you know, when their kid got sick, and they needed it, it wasn’t there anymore. And they are really resentful of the fact that somebody earned a profit off that commercial transaction. There are… the weird thing about insurance is that you pay for it way in advance, usually, of when you use it, and there have been a lot of folks who have had terrible experiences with that. I don’t think we should have a subsidized plan that would compete unfairly, as some have said, in the market, but I think a non-subsidized plan that, like I said, doesn’t have the high administrative costs and is available just as a choice–just as an option in the market–I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

    So, how is that “backing away” from the public option?

  4. twas brillig says:

    Hopefully Westword at least figured out which office Bennet is running for, and doesn’t think he’s running for governor. But as redstateblues makes clear, this pot-stirring nonsense to bait folks, and Pols took the bait.

    None of this is inconsistent with his previous statements since the recess, not to mention the president’s speech, so where’s the beef?  

  5. BlueCat says:

    especially those in leadership and including most of our present congressional delegation,  the position is… for public option but won’t rule out legislation with something less. If there is any reason out there in the form of a policy position statement on the subject to believe that Romanoff’s position would be any different, would somebody provide link?  

  6. One Queer Dude says:

    But I’ll address that on another thread

  7. paulrosenthal says:

    OMG, did I just say that?

    Listen, Bennet, like Udall, has always had to try and position himself as a center-left type of guy to win the general election (and don’t expect different from Andrew).  I don’t think his position is any different than Obama’s, that the public option is great and all, but it’s not a deal breaker if it doesn’t happen.

    My view and who knows what Andrew will say, is that I don’t think full-backing the public option this early is going to help Andrew or make a difference since this issue is going to heal itself over the coming few weeks, an eternity before the caucuses.  He has to pick issues that will carry him long term through the primary and general election.

    Romanoff is going to have a lot of ways to differentiate himself with Bennet, but I don’t think this is going to be one of them.  Andrew doesn’t have to run to the left of Bennet–he just has to give his story and perspective, even if he agrees with Bennet.  I don’t think people will vote for Romanoff because they agree with him on a particular issue more than Bennet, just that they like him and his background and connection to them more.

    • Middle of the Road says:

      alot considering some of the stuff you have spewed so far.

      The main reason I am supporting Bennet is his support of the public option. Affordable health care and not being denied due to pre-existing conditions are my greatest concerns as a person and as a voter. Then the environment. And then the war in Afghanistan and us getting the hell out of Iraq. If Romanoff isn’t hard core for the public option, I can’t imagine why he’s even bothering to run. Public option is the main issue with most Democrats. If he runs away from it, he’s dead in the water.

      I will not vote for a Democrat that won’t back the public option. Not Romanoff. Not Bennet. Andrew’s story and perspective are lovely, I’m sure. That and $3.85 will buy him a cappuchino but it sure the fuck won’t win him an election.

      Let’s hope to God he has people with actual political campaign experience on his team and not folks like you who think a nifty slogan “He’s the People’s Choice!” are going to be enough to move him up the political ladder. And knowing Andrew, he has enough sense to run the hell away from folks like you and Wade. He’s a savvy guy. I can’t imagine him giving your sophomoric advice a second glance.

      • twas brillig says:

        but think Paul is SORTA on to something. This health care stuff is going to be settled by December. It’ll be part of the conversation for sure, but Paul’s right that an 11 month campaign is going needs to look over the horizon. But I agree with you that not taking a stand on health care is no way to establish a federal campaign right now; and Bennet’s been out in front on health care for months while Romanoff has been invisible.

        That said, there’s no way and no reason for Romanoff to be opaque on a public option. I mean, it’s the mainstream answer to single payer, there’s absolutely nothing radical about it.

        But you’re right, this is nuts:

        Andrew doesn’t have to run to the left of Bennet–he just has to give his story and perspective, even if he agrees with Bennet.  I don’t think people will vote for Romanoff because they agree with him on a particular issue more than Bennet, just that they like him and his background and connection to them more.

        That’s pure nonsense. People need a hell of a lot more than that before they throw Bennet under the bus — hence the spiteful negativity and the 2+2=5 lunacy peddled by Wade Norris & Co.

        The uncomfortable truth the “Andrew the Outsider” revisionists must suffer is that the whole basis for Andrew’s support is that he’s more of a politician than Bennet.

        That’s kind of screwy when you think about it, considering the stars are lining up for an historic anti-politician election in November.  

      • wade norris says:

        this story by Westword is a bit of a reach.

        Bennet was on a right wing show and he made some common sense statements about both supporting the public option and keeping costs in mind.

        That is all.

        awesome to see all the concern here though.

        you can feel the worry.

    • BlueCat says:

      that in admitting that there is no good  policy based reason to prefer Andrew you are presenting the lamest argument I’ve ever heard in favor of a primary? You don’t even argue that Romanoff would do a better job.  If this is the campaign’s answer to why Romanoff should be Senator instead of Bennet and what his main message is going to be, I think  all you Romanoff supporters should try to save yourselves the trouble and expense and urge him to quietly withdraw.  It could be lame to the point of embarrassing and damage Romanoff’s reputation to the point of never being taken seriously again.

      • Nomadic Politico says:

        If someone could outline clear policy differences between clinton and obama in the presidential primary, I would be interested.  There were some minor nuances, but that was about it.

        People took to one side or the other because of who they are and what their vision of leadership was.  simple enough.

        • BlueCat says:

          HRC defended it up until about 15 minutes before primary season for starters and that was a big one.  Her mantra for the longest time was that she was right to be a prominent hawk bt would have managed it better than Bush did.  But it’s true that the policy differences in many instances weren’t great.  

          But president isn’t a legislative position  so intangibles inherent in leadership skills are more important than policy nuances in terms of job description.  

          HRC showed very poor leadership of her own campaign machine and message while Obama  headed up a very successful, disciplined campaign machine.  The contrast there was huge.  

          Obama was definitely the one who could bring in new enthusiastic voters.  He also wasn’t handicapped by being married to wild Bill.

          With HRC we would have gotten the same old map, competing only in the old blue map states and completely dependent on running the board and having everything falling just right as it did not for kerry and not by enough to prevent theft for Gore.

          The Obama campaign changed the map, getting us states, including Colorado, that were no hopers before.  Bill only won his first election here because of Perot and before and since it went R all the way back to the 60s. HRC would never have won here.  If she had been the candidate and hadn’t lost to McCain (likely she would have) she would have won  another by a hair victory and brought fewer Dems in on her coattails.

          But whatever. Don’t see what a Romanoff run brings us that materially improves Dems position over where we are with Bennet.  As I said, we’ll see. My money’s on Bennet.    

  8. twas brillig says:

    Now let’s see if Westword has the same integrity to issue a retraction.  

  9. redstateblues says:

    And I definitely agree that Bennet’s support of public option is critical, but he’s continuously supported it, and he’s not backing down in any way shape or form.

  10. Ray Springfield says:

    this is an adpatation for pulbic oourtesy.

    LBJ:”Let’s call him a pig sodomizer!

    Camapgin adie: “We can’t say he sodomizes pigs, he doesn’t”

    LBJ :”So what, he’ll have to deny it”

  11. Jambalaya says:

    …the debate has certainly elevated since AR has suggested his arrival to the Senate party.

  12. DavidThi808 says:

    Bennet is making a very sensible statement. He has a good grasp of the fundamentals that truly matter. And if a bill comes up that does address those fundamentals but doesn’t have the public option, then what would you like him to do?

    The thing is, I don’t see how you get those fundamentals without a public option. But lets stay focused on what matters – the public option is our only known means to a critical end – but it is merely the means.

  13. epayne says:

    At a Colorado Springs town hall meeting in July, Bennet expressed support for the public option, but prefaced it by saying he would not support legislation that wasn’t  budget-neutral. I wish I had an exact quote; I could kick myself for not catching one. I imagine at future public outings he would reiterate this stance if asked.

    • redstateblues says:

      The public option everyone is talking about right now is deficit neutral. It’s totally unsubsidized and funded by customer sthat would pay premiums. That’s all he meant.

      Thanks for playing though.

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