It did not take long for the newest “deal” on the public option to fall apart. On Face The Nation, Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson have both shot down the Medicare buy in proposal which was the key component to the newest “deal” Harry Reid claimed to reach. Of course some Democrats are trying to turn this Medicare buy in into a fake Medicare buy in, but I don’t even think that will be enough to appease Lieberman.

This pattern has been repeated for like the tenth time. Liberals in Congress create a “compromise,” their supposedly left-wing media apologists rush to say how great it is, and the conservative Democrats move the football again. No one should be surprised by the rapid death of the Medicare buy in idea.

It seems the only choice left for progressives in Congress is reconciliation or the nuclear option. Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, and Ben Nelson have so completely gutted the bill that there is almost nothing of value remaining in it. The few remaining pieces worth passing are quickly being picked apart at the request of industry lobbyists. What is remains is only one of the biggest corporate give-aways in history.

Reconciliation (or the nuclear option) now is the sole path remaining to pass anything resembling decent health care reform. If Congressional progressives back down now, there will never be a single pro-working class American bill ever again passed by Congress. From now on, it will only be massive corporate bailouts where at best regular Americans get the scraps that fall from the table. If progressives will not draw a line now with Democrats fully controlling everything, they will forever be a completely meaningless force in Washington.

I know some claim there are problems with reconciliation. The consumer protections might not be passable with reconciliation. Yet as we have learned recently, Harry Reid gutted the ban on annual limits and added a massive loophole in the rules about out-of-pocket limits. With those provisions gone, as far as I’m concerned, there is no consumer protections left, and it is now worth it to take the chance on reconciliation.

It is time to use reconciliation and pass a decent bill with a public option and a Medicare buy in. It is time for Democrats to show the American people they will not be held hostage by a handful of health insurance corporation defenders like Joe Lieberman and Blanche Lincoln. They must pass reform that will actually help the American people instead of forcing them to hand their paychecks to poorly regulated private insurance companies. This is a watershed moment where we will find out who truly rules Washington. And I promise if the answer is Joe Lieberman and the for-profit health insurance corporations, the Democratic base will not turn out in 2010.

Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at