Where they stand on public option, in their own words

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Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.): “The public option is an unnatural and dangerous appendage to healthcare reform.” [Interview, Dec. 1]

“The public option plan is unnecessary. It has been put forward, I’m convinced, by people who really want the government to take over all of health insurance.” [“Fox News Sunday,” Nov. 8]

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine): “I’m against a public option because I think the government would be another vast new bureaucracy, and also create a disproportionate advantage in the marketplace. And inevitably, government’s not going to do it better.” [MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Oct. 14]

“I did support the ‘trigger’ as a fallback in the event that the insurance industry didn’t offer up affordable choices.” [National Review Online, Nov. 11]

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.): “We could negotiate a public option of some sort that I might look at, but I don’t want a big-government, Washington-run operation that would undermine the insurance that — private insurance that — 200 million Americans now have.” [ABC News, “This Week,” Nov. 22]

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.): “I do not support the creation of a so-called robust, government-administered public plan. I believe that we should work to make sure that we do not expose American taxpayers and the Treasury to long-term risks that could occur over future government bailouts of a public plan.” [Senate floor, Nov. 21]
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.): “I remain concerned that the current version of the public option ... could shift significant risks to taxpayers over time unnecessarily, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to find a better and bipartisan solution ... . I have suggested that a freestanding, premium-supported, competitive community option that would trigger on a date certain, if our private market reforms fail to work, might be a possible compromise.” [Senate floor, Nov. 21]

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.): “Do I think we can do a little bit better? I think we can and my hope is that we can, but my fear is, if we don’t make some changes again addressing ‘government-run,’ then we’re not going to get to 60. But I think we can address those concerns and still keep our liberal colleagues and maybe, if we’re smart about it, end up with at least one Republican from Maine.” [Interview, Dec. 1]

President Barack Obama: “One of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest.” [Statement, July 7]

“The public option, whether we have it or we don’t have it, is not the entirety of healthcare reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it.” [Speech, Aug. 15]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.): “I support a strong public option. … I welcome Schumer, Landrieu and Carper’s work to get a public option acceptable to all Democrats.” [Press conference, Nov. 21]

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.): “I believe at the end of the day the moderate, opt-out public option will prevail. … It will get done. If we have to do it with just 60 Democratic votes, we will come together and do it.” [NBC News, Nov. 23]


Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.): “If for some reason the public option is amended out, then it would not get my vote.” [Essence.com, Nov. 30]

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.): “I would be very reluctant to support legislation that did not have a strong public option. … I’m not just speaking for myself. I’m speaking for other senators; I’m speaking for many members of the House. We’re going to fight and demand a public option, and a strong one at that.” [ABC News, “This Week,” Nov. 27]


Michael O'Brien contributed to this article.