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Chasing Amy

Even more so after Ted Kennedy’s death, Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s vote on health care reform will be critical. It’s not clear Democrats have even 51 votes for a plan that will contain costs, especially for the most controversial approach: a so-called “public option” that will force insurers to compete with a government-chartered entity.

Given the Dems’ tremulousness, Klobuchar’s position is crucial; if a Minnesota DFLer says no, the plan is irredeemably dead at the national level. After the Senator’s tele-townhall Sunday, some lefties complained she was clear as mud about the public option, and our own Doug Grow agreed.

So it was with surprise, and confusion, I read Bill Salisbury’s take in Monday’s Pioneer Press. Of Klobuchar, he wrote:

“She said she supports creating a government-run insurance program, the so-called “public option,” to compete with private plans.”

Did Bill hear something others didn’t?

I asked him, and he replied, “After Amy said she was open to a ‘competitive option,’ she said, ‘The one that I would prefer would be one where you allow people to buy into something, either the federal health care plan itself or something exactly like it.’ I inferred from that that she supports a public option. I’ll try to get a clarification from her staff.”

You gotta love a guy who doesn’t get defensive when questioned; Bill is a class act. He did indeed check; here’s his follow-up email:

“David — Klobuchar spokesman Linden Zakula said her position on the public option is: ‘She is open to it, but wants to look at the full plan in its entirety’ before making a decision on it. He said her priority is to make health insurance more competitive, and she’ll support whatever achieves that, whether it’s a public option or co-ops. That’s not a straight yes or no on the public option, but whatever works best seems to be a reasonable position to me.”

Perhaps, but at the risk of being uncharitable, I’d say the PiPress owes its readers a clarification. As Salisbury’s follow-up email indicates, the public option and co-ops are commonly understood as two different things. Bill originally wrote Klobuchar supports a public option, but the reality is that she may support it.

In other words, don’t count on that vote yet. Amy’s position is written in mud, not stone — and journalists would be smart to do more on the Senator’s stand.

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/26/2009 - 08:20 am.

    Just a couple of weeks ago, I personally heard Amy say she had not committed to support a public option. She is firmly committed to being vague on the issue.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/26/2009 - 08:57 am.

    “…that will force insurers to compete with a government-chartered entity.”

    A GSE! Yeah, yeah that’s the ticket.

    We could call it FannieMed….or FreddieCare! Maybe Barney Frank could run the thing for us, too.

    The heck with AllState. We’re all in scary smart, liberal hands now, friends.

  3. Submitted by William Souder on 08/26/2009 - 09:57 am.

    So Senator Klobuchar is vague as to what she does or doesn’t support in the way of healthcare reform…including a public option that may or may not be part of the plan. Gee, doesn’t that put her in perfect harmony with the President?

    How about a new slogan fot the administration and its supporters in Congress: Yes we might!

  4. Submitted by Jon Collins on 08/26/2009 - 01:05 pm.

    Doesn’t being very firm in refusing to make a decision count for something?

  5. Submitted by Charley Underwood on 08/26/2009 - 01:16 pm.

    Question: Could Amy Klobuchar accurately be called a Blue Dog Democrat, i.e. a Democrat whose voting more closely resembles a Republican voting pattern? The question is NOT is she is a nice person. The question is NOT is you like her or not. The question is whether her voting record more closely reflects the party platforms of the Democratic or Republican parties.

  6. Submitted by Richard Faust on 08/26/2009 - 02:19 pm.

    In response to Post #5, Klobuchar’s voting record closely mirrors the voting record of Senators Lieberman (I-CT), Conrad (D-ND), Landrieu (D-LA), and Hagan (D-NC). According to the Washington Post, Klobuchar voted with her party 90.2% (266 votes) of the time during the 111th Congress. She is in the bottom 12 of Democratic Senators when it comes to voting with party. In fact, in a much more partisan Congress than the 110th, she actually is more likely now to vote against her party than previously. Her rating in the 110th Congress was about 95%. I wouldn’t label her a “blue dog”, yet, but her voting record is closer to a Walz or Peterson, than Ellison or Oberstar. Not surprisingly, Franken’s voting record vis a vis the party is 96%, which places him in the top third of Dems in the Senate.

  7. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/26/2009 - 03:17 pm.

    “How about a new slogan fot the administration and its supporters in Congress: Yes we might!”

    I personally would appreciate the opportunity to yell at her at a town meeting. These days, it seems, we determine public policy based on how loud people are.

  8. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 08/26/2009 - 03:29 pm.

    Nothing too surprising given how hard Klobuchar worked at ducking debates with Ford Bell. The DFL endorsement process that embraces blue dogs while saying “abide you!” to real Democrats is sorely in need of overhaul.

  9. Submitted by Duke Powell on 08/26/2009 - 07:07 pm.

    My prediction is that Klobuchar will end up voting with Senate Democrat leadership in exchange for increased Medicaid reimbusements. Bad decision on her part, but at least a fig leaf she can wave around.

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