Moment of truth for Harry Reid

The healthcare of hundreds of millions of Americans will be affected by this bill. The meetings led by Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidKavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow Dems can’t ‘Bork’ Kavanaugh, and have only themselves to blame Dem senator: Confidential documents would 'strongly bolster' argument against Kavanaugh's nomination MORE (D-Nev.) are a defining moment in modern political history that would be a true bid for historical greatness by the president and the Congress.

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The public option debate is over. The advocates have won. The people have decided. Poll after poll proves the popularity of the public option. The public option is one of the most popular provisions in the healthcare debate.

It has been said that Harry Reid would have to be Harry Houdini to pull off this deal. I believe he can. It is now within reach.

First: Insurance co-ops are fine, but as an alternative to the public option to bring real competition they would be impotent. Second: The so-called trigger would simply guarantee continued abuse.

The deal of the decade would create a national public option with a provision that allows states to opt out with their own program.

If the president, the Senate majority leader and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusOvernight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor Judge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester MORE (D-Mont.), can pull off this deal, they would win a standing ovation in the high court of history,

Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenSaving the transatlantic partnership Biden to campaign for Stacey Abrams next week Dems with political experience could have edge in 2020 primary, says pollster MORE is right: Many Americans are living in Depression-like suffering while others are squeezed by merciless forces beyond their control.

Public option opponents would condemn the jobless, poor, hungry, hurting and powerless to pay price-gouging premiums they cannot afford. Then they would condemn taxpayers to pay for huge subsidies to pay these sky-high premiums to high-profit insurers. A public option with an opt-out provision for states would do this: It would win strong political support from voters, be a highly popular program for consumers, lower the net cost of the healthcare bill, and be highly popular in the large majority of states that would adopt it.

In states that opt out, there will be news stories about lower premiums, lower costs and lower pain in public option states. So be it. Give states the right to opt out. Let voters in those states decide.

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I predict that more than one Republican, including Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, will vote yes on final passage of a healthcare bill with a public option that allows states to opt out. And I predict that if this passes, Maine will stay in and there will be no serious attempt by Maine to opt out.

I have done many deals in my career. There is always a moment to strike, a deal that works, a policy that makes sense and a public will that must be respected. The moment is here. The time is now. The deal is a public option with an opt-out clause.

If Harry Reid delivers this deal, he and those who make it happen will be applauded by voters and written about in history books. On this matter, the people are right and the enemies of change are wrong.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net