Michael Bennet joins group edging away from public option

Even as Andrew Romanoff readies for a 2010 run for the U.S. Senate, Michael Bennet, the Bill Ritter appointee he'll be challenging, is upping his public profile. Hence, an appearance yesterday on KHOW for an extended conversation with host Craig Silverman and fill-in yakker Dan Haley, the editorial page editor of the Denver Post and fearless Broncos prognosticator. Naturally, the topic of healthcare reform was front and center, and Bennet, like so many other members of his party, made it clear that a public option is no longer a make-or-break facet of the plan. Indeed, he said too much attention has been paid to this element, thereby obscuring many of the proposal's other fine and important aspects. He also used a buzz term we'll be hearing much more in the coming weeks: "deficit neutral" -- meaning that he doesn't want the final bill to push the nation's finances any deeper into the red. In truth, there's no way to say with absolute certainty that this will be the case, since any such determination will be based on projections, estimates and other sorts of guesswork -- but it sounds good.

Bennet also discussed a part of his personal biography that seldom pops up these days -- his stint as an employee of billionaire Phil Anschutz. He spent much of his time with Anschutz trying to bring distressed companies back to financial health, and he said that experience makes it clear how badly much of the federal bureaucracy is run. That's something on which folks representing opposite political ideologies will likely agree.

To hear Bennet's conversation, click here.

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