Sunday, August 16, 2009

Obama's Administration Waffling On A Public Option?

Is President Obama's administration signaling it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system? Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on CNN's State of the Union Sunday program that government alternative to private health insurance is "not the essential element" of the administration's health care overhaul. (video left)

Obama himself seemed to be waffling on the public option commitment in his statement at a town hall meeting in Grand Junction, CO.,"All I'm saying is, though, that the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it."

On the other hand, speaking on CBS News’ Face the Nation on Sunday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs emphasized that President Barack Obama still supports a “public option” for health care. Gibbs' statement seems to run contrary to Sebelius' statements on CNN's State of the Union Sunday program, that a public option is "not the essential element" of the administration's health care overhaul.
Update Monday August 17, 2009 @ 10:18 AM - A White House official told the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “misspoke” when she said that a public health care option was not “essential” to the administration’s health reform efforts.

After comments made by President Barack Obama and Sebelius over the weekend implying that the White House would be willing to sign into law a health reform bill that doesn’t offer a public health care option, members of the administration countered that Pres. Obama does strongly support the public option.

The push to emphasize that the president will indeed fight for a public option reflects continued strong support for a public option from progressive Congressional Democrats as well as nationwide progressive groups, such as the President's old campaign organization that reorganized under the DNC as Organizing For America. According to an article at, more than 100 liberal Democrats in the House are unlikely to vote for a health reform bill that does not include a public option.
Sen. Curt Conrad (D-ND) told Fox News anchor Chris Wallace on Sunday that the U.S. Senate will not allow a public option, adding his belief that, “to continue to chase that rabbit is just a wasted effort.”

If it comes down to an either/or choice, the lion's share of Democrats agree with Democratic strategist James Carville who suggests that instead of just throwing in the towel on a universal public health insurance option, Pres. Obama and Democrats in congresss should allow the conservatives to defeat it, then defeat those conservatives at the ballot box in 2010.

At a roundtable discussion on CNN's State of the Union Sunday program, Carville argued that if the Democrats can come up with an agreement that is supported by most Democratic members of Congress, they should let the GOP filibuster it, thereby killing health care reform and effectively painting the Republicans as being the party that opposed fixing the system.

That, Carville implied, would backfire on the GOP in upcoming elections. "Put a bill out there, make them filibuster it," Carville said. "Make them be what they are — the party of no. ... And you know what? Run on it. Let them kill it. Let them kill it with the interest group money, then run against them. That's what we ought to do."

From CNN's Web site:
“What about this?,” Carville said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “Suppose they pass a House bill that can get 56 Senate Democrats.” Then, Carville suggested, instead of using reconciliation, a special budgetary maneuver in Senate procedure that frustrate GOP attempts to mount a filibuster, Democrats should call for a vote. “And make [Republicans] filibuster it. But the old kinda way is that they filibuster it and make’em go three weeks and all night and [Democrats] will be there the whole time.

“Then, you say, ‘They’re the people that stopped it. We had a majority of Democrats. We had a good bill. They stopped it.’"

(Video Courtesy of Crooks & Liars and HBO) Real Time with Bill Maher reporter (and comedian) Dana Gould asks WFT after he first visits a healthcare town hall conservative protest and then visits a Remote Area Medical traveling clinic -- of the type that that usually operates in third world countries -- in downtown Inglewood, CA.

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