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If the Trigger’s Out, Is Collins In?

Susan Collins quickly stepped into the media spotlight yesterday after saying on CNN that she wouldn’t support the trigger because “it just delays the public option.” Such remarks seemed to have prompted some liberal bloggers to write off Collins entirely, given her unwillingness to compromise on the issue. “We've gotten several emails in recent days from readers asking why all the focus is on Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) when it comes to a compromise on public option,” Talking Points Memo writes today. “The reason: Collins is a firm no on public option or even a triggered public option, putting her vote out of play.”

But shooting down both the trigger and the public option doesn’t necessarily mean that a Senator is “out of play,” at least in the grand scheme of things--there’s a significant (perhaps even probable) chance that neither will be in the Finance Committee’s final bill. Making the rounds on another Sunday talk show, Olympia Snowe says that the trigger is “not on the table and it won’t be,” as the Wonk Room noted. “We’ll be using the co-op as an option at this point as a means for injecting competition into the process.” Now, Collins hasn’t been the most vocal champion of the co-op option. But, as TPM itself reported earlier in the summer, she sounded at least cautiously interested in the idea. “I need to know more details. We need to better understand how it would work,” Collins said in June. “But it's certainly better than a Washington-run plan.” It would be certainly disappointing if the Senate leadership decided, in the final negotiations, that even a trigger would be going too far. But, at this point, it may well happen, and if so, the door would still be open for someone like Susan Collins to support the Finance bill.