by tarheel74, Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 08:22:41 AM EDT
Screams the headline on Huffington Post. It has become evident that the White House is not only not doing enough for a public option but actually not fighting against the proposals being pushed. It might be surprising to some but the writing was on the wall for a long time.
Since the story first broke on TPM the White House released the following statement:
"The report is false. The White House continues to work with the Senate on the merging of the two bills. We are making good progress toward enacting comprehensive health reform."
However Huffington Post did a detailed follow-up:
But the push-back, say sources with direct knowledge of deliberations between leadership and the administration, does not square with Obama's private indications to Senate leaders. The sources say that the president has left little doubt about his apprehension regarding an opt-out approach.
It is not philosophical, one White House aide explained, but is a matter of political practicality. If the votes were there to pass a robust public option through the Senate, the president would be leading the charge, the aide said. But after six months of concern that it would be filibustered, the bet among Obama's aides is that Reid is now simply being too optimistic in his whip count. The trigger proposal, said Democratic aides, has long been associated with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
"He's been so convinced by his political people from the beginning that we can't get a bill with a public option, he's internalized it. Even though it's now become obvious we can get a bill without selling out the public option, he's still on that path," said a top Democratic source. The White House, he said, continues to assure progressives it'll improve the bill in conference negotiations between the Senate and House, but advocates are unconvinced.
"If we're this close in the Senate and they're not helping us, I have a feeling they could screw us in the conference," said one.
Moderates in the Democratic party have been dithering on the public option without any leadership from the White House. As a result we have a vague statements like this emanating from the conservative Democrats:
Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO.) conspicuously did not predict that a robust, national public option would pass. The Missouri Democrat said that leadership would likely "end up... having votes on a number of choices" including a public plan that states could opt into, one they could opt-out of, and a plan that would be triggered in "if these insurance companies don't manage to bring down costs within a certain period of time."
McCaskill, who recommitted herself to voting for the public option, told ABC that the final product would likely be "some kind of opportunity to go to a public not-for-profit among many private options for people don't currently have insurance."
It was a remarkably vague response -- though the phrasing seemed to hint that she believed the Senate would settle on a trigger proposal. The concern among senators, McCaskill admitted, was about vote counts. "I would be less than honest if I didn't say all of us were concerned about getting the votes to move forward," she said. "But I remain pretty optimistic."
The lack of any position taken by this President has not gone unnoticed. The lack of enthusiastic support for a compromise like the opt-out has not gone unnoticed even among the Democratic Senators:
That is not good enough, Harkin said. "I've not been very happy with the White House's lukewarm support of the public option," he said, articulating a gripe liberals have been making for months.
"I would hope the president would speak out more forcefully in favor of the public option," Brown said, adding "I expect he will."
The anger in the Democratic base over the sell-out of a campaign promise has riled people up. The upside of it is Sen. Harry Reid, who is now fighting a tight re-election campaign, now appears to be the champion for public option reacting to pressure from the progressive base:
On Thursday evening, after taking the temperature of his caucus, Reid told Obama at a White House meeting that he was pushing a national public option with an opt-out provision. Obama, several sources briefed on the exchange, reacted coolly.
Finally the progressives have turned their attention to the President, who beyond giving repetitive speeches has really not done much to shore up the waffling moderates to support the public option, instead has propped Sen. Olympia Snowe as the de facto commander on this issue. It is time for this President to act like a Democratic President and live up to his campaign promises to the same grass-roots that helped elect him instead of placating with empty speeches and carefully organized beltway talking points. Here is the latest ad directed towards the president:
It is high time progressive joined this campaign: http://yeswestillcan.org/p-tpm