I'm not sure why Sen. Maria Cantwell chose to do this on Friday's Bill Press Show, but, as NWPI notes, she went on the air and made a pretty unambiguous statement in support of the public option—and against co-ops:
BILL PRESS: So, do you support the public plan option? Yes or no?
SENATOR CANTWELL: Yes, I do. And I think that the HELP Committee did a good job of outlining it in their bill, and I think that we should try to get similar language in the Finance Committee... And we're going to be working with Senator Rockefeller and others to do that.
BILL PRESS: And uh, the Chairman, your Chairman [Max Baucus] has said... I saw again this morning... he says, basically, that um, Democrats ought to just forget about the public plan option.
SENATOR CANTWELL: Well, I disagree, in the sense that the public plan... if you think about what Medicare has been able to do, or you think about what, you know, competition really can do if we would have put the prescription drug benefit under Medicare, it would have driven down price. And the concentration of the insurance companies in these markets... and they have made... so while our, while individual wages may have gone up twenty four percent, healthcare costs, as I've said, have gone up a hundred and twenty percent over a ten year period of time. But insurance profits have gone up four hundred and twenty eight percent over that ten year period of time. So obviously, there's something going on here, where they're making a lot of money, and not driving down costs. And competition from a public option would help do that. And I think as we get into the heart of the debate, I think we can make this point, and I think we will be successful in picking up people who, who understand how important... Now, I talk to Republicans who don't want to cover people, who say, I do want to cover the uninsured, and the forty seven million people... I think when they look at this, they're going to see that having a public option is gonna be a very... the best way to provide competition.
BILL PRESS: Well... I'm glad to hear you say that, and I certainly hope you're right, I hope that that... position prevails in the end. But I'm worried about, you know, Senator Conrad, also, who's a good friend, neighbor here on Capitol Hill, who's come up with this idea of the co-op. And it seems that's the way that he and Chairman Baucus wanna go. The co-op is just... let me ask you the question: Do you think that's an acceptable option to the public plan option, or alternative?
SENATOR CANTWELL: Well, I think the devil's in the details. And I think right now, the way that they're probably looking at a co-op, is probably not the aggressive form of a public option that many would like to see, including myself. And so... I think that's going to be part of the debate.