Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Public Option is Dead

Progressive bloggers can quit writing about the public option. Health & HS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius and Press Sec. Robert Gibbs went on the Sunday talk shows and made it clear the public health insurance option was dead.


"I think what's important is choice and competition and I'm convinced at the end of the day, the plan will have both of those. But [a public option] is not the essential element," said Sebelius.


"What I am saying is the bottom line for this for the president is, what we have to have is choice and competition in the insurance market. Again, if you are in a place in this country where you only get one choice, how in the world are you going to be able to convince anybody that you are driving down costs when you don't have to compete against anything."

Notice Gibbs talked about the private market and made no mention of the public option. Today, Obama reached out to Senators Charles Grassley, Olympia Snowe and Mike Enzi. The President dumped the public option and Republicans still won't vote a weakened version of health care reform. Any astute policial observer knew this was going to happen. Now the White House is pretending they didn't give up on the public option.

Health care dominated the morning briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who denied reports that the White House and Democrats are giving up on a bipartisan reform bill.

“Absolutely not,” Gibbs said. “We continue to be hopeful that we can get bipartisan support and will continue to work with those that are interested in doing that.”

“Our goal is to get this done in a bipartisan way,” he said. “There are several more weeks to go in potential negotiations between Republicans and Democrats. I don’t know why we would short circuit any of that now.”

Why does a President with supermajorities in the House and Senate need Republican votes? Obama's attempts at bipartisanship have given the Republicans operating room to attack. To make matters worst for Obama: a Rasmussen poll found only 34 percent of voters support health care reform without a public option. Only 9 percent of voters "strongly" support reform without the public option. Obama needed the public option when he started pushing for reform. Obama needs it more now.

Obama's political strategy was to appeal to Republicans and hold a townhall meeting that let tea baggers rip into him. Obama did not care about progressive supoorter or the Congressional Democrats that had to face hostile townhall meetings. Obama operates under the delusion America is the New Republic and Democratic Leadership Council. Both TNR and DLC have advocated bashing the Left and appeasing the Right as the best way for a Democrat to govern. Obama has put that theory to the test. It turned out to be a massive failure.

The American people elected supermajorities in Congress. Obama opted to appease Republicans and put no pressure on corporate-friendly Democrats. Obama never voiced complaint about Max Baucus shutting Democrats out of writing the health care bill. Rahm Emanuel was allowed to speak out against the public option. If this is change then I don't want to believe.

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At August 20, 2009 11:52 AM , Blogger tas said...

You have to wonder who's playing who at this point. Maybe this isn't the DLC/TNR dynamic.. I've heard noise from progressive quarters that Obama is testing out "game theory" and just trying to bring a few Republicans in to break their unity. This strategy has had the opposite effect, causing the GOP to go more off the deep end. Obama's strategy may be new, but it's not like the GOP reaction is different or unexpected -- we're seeing a repeat of the 1990s.

Barney Franks was correct when he said talking to these real life trolls is like trying to talk with a dining room table. We deal with these jerks on blogs, they are exact same people who are heckling at town hall meetings. We've tried engaging them in meaningful conversation. Sometimes we're successful, but by and large the attempts are useless. These people do not understand common sense, they have no conception of empirical evidence. They have no capacity for critical thought. I hate to say all of this, but we've dealt with them and we both know it to be true.

This isn't to say that there are conservatives who do make some sense out there. I like talking with those people, but they don't exist in the curent GOP leadership schema.

It's about time Obama recognized this and rammed his agenda down Republican throats. The GOP will not be this helpless for long. History shows that Americans like balance in Washington, and supermajorities for either party do not last. Reagan did not have the luxury of dealing with a GOP Congress for, I believe, the last 4 year of his presidency. Anyone who thinks that the Senate will still contain 60 Democrats after the 2010 elections is smoking something funky -- and we may be looking at a GOP majority Congress by 2012 (if Obama survives that election). I understand some Democrats are leery of voting for this, but everybody -- Democrat leadership and Obama -- needs to realize that many Democrat congressional reps and Senators will lose their jobs anyway. The time to act is when you have the opportunity to do the most -- which is right now.

At August 20, 2009 11:59 AM , Blogger Bill Newton said...

It isn't dead. But those of us that want health care reform are going to have to fight hard to win. There may be majorities in the House and Senate, but too many Democrats, like Blue Dogs Allen Boyd and Suzanne Kosmas, are willing to vote against the President.

The Republicans have successfully changed the debate to "death panels" and rationing. They manage never to compare to the present system, which kills 22,000 people a year. The current death panels are run by Blue Cross and United. They are merciless.

Something is going to pass, unless we give up. Giving up would mean the Republicans win, Obama is greatly weakened, and no health care reform for another 15 years. That is not acceptable.

We must win this fight. We know how. We won the election. We cannot rest easy and assume Obama can do it himself. It's on. Down and dirty. In the streets. Let's get busy. You know what to do.

At August 20, 2009 12:03 PM , Blogger Michael Hussey said...

Bill, the White House has taken the public option off the table. They are backtracking from it. If Obama really wanted the public option he would have Harry Reid tell Max Baucas to only have Democrats write the bill.


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