The health care bill drawn up by Sen. Max Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee is a "terrible mistake" that George W. Bush "would have loved" because it is a massive giveaway of taxpayers' money to the health insurance industry, former chair of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, told MSNBC Monday night.
Dean also said he believes there is a very slim majority in the Senate that would support a health care bill that includes a public option.
"This is a bill that George Bush would love, it's a massive redistribution of government taxpayers' money to the insurance industry, exactly the same thing that was going on with the banking industry and other industries on Wall Street," Dean told Countdown guest host Lawrence O'Donnell. "It is a bad bill, this Finance Committee bill, it doesn't insure people, and it spends an awful lot of money and it gives it away to the insurance companies. So I do think ultimately the bill will have a public option in it, because I don't think the Democratic Party will stand for this."
Asked by O'Donnell how the public option would make it into a Senate bill, given the level of opposition to it, Dean said that "we think there are 51 or 52 Democratic senators who will vote for some sort of public option."
Dean's assertion challenges the conventional Beltway wisdom thus far about the public option's chances. While it appears the public option has the votes necessary to pass the House of Representatives, it has been assumed that the votes aren't there for a public option in the Senate.
But Dean was insistent on the need for one: "If you don't have a public option, you are wasting nearly a trillion dollars of government money and giving it to the health insurance industry. I think that is a terrible mistake, and I know very well it is not what President Obama planned on when he was campaigning."
And Dean issued a warning to Democrats on the matter. "Every Democrat is going to sink or swim together on this," he said. "If we pass a bill that's just a big giveaway to the insurance industry, every Democrat will suffer."
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Sept. 28, 2009.