He’s lied about the public option, tried to scare people that it wouldn’t work, then tried to scare people that it would work too well. None of Ben Nelson’s excuses for opposing a public option hold up to scrutiny, and none of his theatrics stopped Harry Reid from including a public option in the merged Finance / HELP healthcare bill.
But now Ben Nelson may have figured out how to finally kill it — with the abortion debate. Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly noted how Nelson has gone back and forth on making the healthcare bill abortion neutral:
First, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said he liked the Stupak amendment and would be “highly unlikely” to vote for health care reform unless it included the language, or something very close to it, in the final bill. Then, Nelson shifted gears, saying he misunderstood a reporter’s questions the first time, and is satisfied with Senate Dems’ restrictions on public funding of abortion.
Now, Nelson has moved back in the other direction again.
Nelson wants to kill the public option once and for all. In fact, Nelson said today, “If there’s no public option, perhaps some of the [abortion] problem goes away.”
The problem, then, isn’t with the abortion-related language — Nelson is just looking for leverage. The message to Reid, in effect, is, “You get rid of the public option and I’ll accept your provisions on abortion.”
This is on top of how Nelson has also decided the Senate needs to preserve insurance companies’ anti-trust exemption. He’s not even trying to hide who he’s working for anymore.
UPDATE: Ben Nelson has released a statement saying that he will not join the Republican filibuster attempting to prevent debate on the Senate healthcare bill, stating “Throughout my Senate career I have consistently rejected efforts to obstruct.” But then he turns around and quite clearly states that he will join a filibuster against a bill that he doesn’t support, thus preventing a vote and embracing efforts to obstruct:
“In my first reading, I support parts of the bill and oppose others I will work to fix. If that’s not possible, I will oppose the second cloture motion—needing 60 votes—to end debate, and oppose the final bill.
Healthcare for America Now just released a poll showing that 80% of Nebraskans think the bill deserves an up-or-down vote, regardless of whether they support it.