And I thought yesterday was crazy.
Brian Beutler has sources telling him that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is close to rounding up 60 votes for an "opt-out" public option, but that the White House is trying to slam on the brakes. The main reason? Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, whose support the White House covets, is against the idea and prefers some sort of trigger. One source tells Beutler:
They're skeptical of opt out and are generally deferential to the Snowe strategy that involves the trigger... they're certainly not calming moderate's concerns on opt out.
Ezra Klein has a longer, extremely well-reported take that includes a fascinating back-story of how Reid came to embrace the opt-out. It culminates with a description of Reid's meeting at the White House last night:
On Thursday night, Reid went over to the White House for a talk with the president. The conversation centered on Reid's desire to put Schumer's national opt-out plan into the base bill. White House officials were not necessarily pleased, and they made that known. Everyone agrees that they didn't embrace Reid's new strategy. Everyone agrees that the White House wants Snowe on the bill, feels the trigger offers a safer endgame, and isn't convinced by Reid's math. But whether officials expressed a clear preference for the trigger, or were just worried about the potential for 60 votes, is less clear. One staffer briefed on the conversation says "the White House basically told us, 'We hope you guys know what you're doing.'"
Notwithstanding the differences in emphasis, the two items are twists on the same basic theme--a theme consistent with what other sources, in the administration and on Capitol Hill, have been saying for the last few days.
The White House wants a public option but it wants a bill even more. It remains convinced that keeping Snowe on board is the surest way to get that. And Snowe wants a trigger. The administration understands that the politics of the public option have shifted, so they are listening to discussion of alternatives. But they're asking a lot of tough questions of those proposing these alternatives. And they're not rushing to change their gameplan.
Update: More from Ryan Grim and Sam Stein at Huffington Post. They say Reid is just one or two votes short on a filibuster-proof majority to get an opt-out plan through.