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Congress: Opting for the opt out

"Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid announced Monday that he will include a government-backed insurance plan in the chamber's health-care reform legislation, a key concession to liberals who have threatened to oppose a bill without such a public option," the Washington Post front-pages. "Reid's decision was a reversal from two weeks ago, when the Nevada Democrat appeared inclined to set aside the idea -- among the most divisive in the reform debate -- in an attempt to avoid alienating party moderates. Doubts remain about whether he has the votes to guarantee passage, but he said he concluded that in the interest of bringing the strongest possible bill to the Senate floor next month, adding a public option was a risk worth taking."

The New York Times: "With Republicans united for now in opposition to any bill including a public option, Mr. Reid needs support from all members of his caucus — 58 Democrats and two independents — to take up the legislation. Aides said Monday that he appeared to be short of that goal, lacking firm commitments from several members of the caucus."

"Reid's decision could cost him the support of Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), the only Republican to support a healthcare bill in Congress this year," The Hill notes, adding: "The lack of GOP support could unnerve centrists such as Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)."

So what's behind the decision for Reid? In part, keeping labor unions happy…

Turning to the energy/climate change bill… "Senate Democrats have all but abandoned the likelihood of getting a climate bill passed this year, although they hoped that they could show some progress at a Senate hearing on the issue -- such as clearing a bill out of a key committee -- in advance of international climate negotiations in Denmark in December. Tuesday's hearing is the first of three planned by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, on the bill introduced last month and recently revised and updated with additional details."

"Credit card rates would be immediately frozen under new legislation introduced on Monday by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)," The Hill writes. "Dodd will introduce the bill in response to concerns that the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, enacted earlier this year, has done little to block credit cards from raising interest rates before the remaining provisions of the CARD Act go into effect." That legislation isn't enacted until May, and credit-card companies are spiking interest rates ahead of that deadline to comply.

Taking it too far... "Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) called an aide to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke a "K Street whore" during a radio interview last month, according to audio posted on YouTube. 'Here I am, the only Member of Congress who actually worked as an economist. And she's, this lobbyist, this K Street whore, is trying to teach me about economics,' Grayson fumes during the interview."