For the fifth day today, the Senate Finance Committee will be debating amendments to its health-care-reform bill, but specifically, they'll be wrangling over the public option. Yes, the government-provided insurance option, which supporters see as absolutely vital and opponents see as the beginning of the end for America, is still alive and kicking. But how viable is it ultimately?
• Carrie Budoff Brown and Manu Raju write that although the public option is not expected to pass the Senate Finance Committee because of opposition from three Democrats, to supporters "the exposure is a welcome breakthrough" that they hope will create momentum and eventually lead to a public option in the final bill to be voted on by the full Senate. [Politico]
• Katharine Q. Seelye is live-blogging the Senate Finance Committee hearing today for the Times. So far, Senator Jay Rockefeller has insisted that the public option is not a "government takeover," while Senator Chuck Grassley referred to it as a "predator" and Senator Orrin Hatch called it a "Trojan horse." [Prescriptions/NYT]
• Greg Sargent highlights an exchange wherein Senator Chuck Schumer ties Grassley in knots over his support of Medicare but vilification of the public option. It's quite amusing. [Plum Line/Who Runs Gov]
• Alexander Bolton examines Schumer's pivotal role in getting a public option to the Senate floor and possibly passed, and how his past chairmanship of the DSCC could compel some fence-sitting Democrats to vote in favor of it. [Hill]
• Matt Corley reports that Senator Tom Harkin claims the Senate only needs 51 votes to pass the public option, and it has them. [Think Progress]
• Jonathan Cohn takes a look at the Netherlands, which doesn't have a public option but does have "a popular and successful universal health care program based entirely on private insurance." [New Republic]
• Chris Harris points out that "[m]ore Americans believe in UFOs (34%) than oppose a public option (26%)," though we're not sure why that means anything. [Media Matters]