Monday, August 17, 2009

The Administration Caves, but Progressives Draw a Line in the Sand

While its been hinted at for some time, the Administration made it pretty damn clear this weekend that they're willing to cave on the public option:

WASHINGTON – Bowing to Republican pressure and an uneasy public, President Barack Obama's administration signaled Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.

Facing mounting opposition to the overhaul, administration officials left open the chance for a compromise with Republicans that would include health insurance cooperatives instead of a government-run plan. Such a concession probably would enrage Obama's liberal supporters but could deliver a much-needed victory on a top domestic priority opposed by GOP lawmakers.

. . .

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that government alternative to private health insurance is "not the essential element" of the administration's health care overhaul. The White House would be open to co-ops, she said, a sign that Democrats want a compromise so they can declare a victory.

Way to stand firm guys, cause nothing says victory like an article that leads with the phrase "Bowing to Republican pressure".

On the positive side, there seem to be more claims than ever that progressives in the house have enough "no" votes to block a crappy bill:

WEINER: The President does seem like he's moving away from the public plan, and if he does, he's not going to pass a bill. Because there are just too many people in Washington who believe that the public plan was the only way that you effectively bring some downward pressure on prices, and if he says well we're not going to have that, then I'm not really quite sure what we're dong here.

BECKY QUICK: So you would not vote for a bill that made it through, if it got through...

WEINER: Not only I but I think there's probably a hundred members of the House, who believe for various reasons that you need to have something to bring down prices. Otherwise you're basically, what you're doing, you're keeping the cost arc. . . the CBO agrees with that. You know as it was, I think the public plan had been watered down so much. So if the President thinks he's cutting a deal to get Senate votes, he's probably losing House votes.

This last development puts the White House in an interesting predicament. It all comes down to who they pressure, and if they want to pass a health care bill they're left with two choices:
  1. Pressure on the insurance company owned Dems (Blue Dogs, Senate Douche Caucus) to vote for a good bill with a strong public option.
  2. Pressure the progressives in the house to vote for health care bill that contains either a public option doomed to fail (triggers, no negotiation power) or none at all.
While I'd like to believe otherwise, both Obama and Emanuel's past moves tell us they will pressure progressives to vote in favor or a crappy bill. And unfortunately, there is recent evidence of the progressive caucus folding under administration pressure (the bailout, the war supplemental), probably leaving Obama confident that he can do it again.

I'm as clueless as everyone else on what happens next, but I don't think it's particularly crazy to say that this fight will go a long way in determining the future prospects of Obama's presidency. A reminder on the real lessons of 1994 (Pissing off your supporters before a midterm election) might be in order.


  1. well, there is one thing i know for certain. if obama does not come through on healthcare, i am not voting for him in the next election.

    this is the one issue i cared about and still do. fine forget the public option but force the private sector to take some responsibility. use some of their billions to bring the healthcare industry into the 21st century. for a start they need to consolidate everyone's records, make it easier to go from one healthcare company to another, and ultimately eliminate the bureaucracy of the whole system. that means everything needs to be simplified and computerized. no more redundant paperwork.

    and after reading what my wants are out of this system maybe disregarding the public option is for the best. a government run system seems like it would just exacerbate these problems. but the government still needs to have some backbone on this bill. crack down on the healthcare industry. make them accountable for uninsured to be insured if they are ill instead of the other way around.

    and, honestly i don't care who foots the bill at this point, the healthcare conglomerates, the american taxpayer, china... as long as American healthCARE becomes something more than an oxymoron in my eyes i will be happy.

  2. yeah i don't want to look too reactionary at this point but if obama and friends screw this up as badly as it looks like they will, thats gonna be a huge failure on their parts thats really gonna lessen the changes of me supporting any democrat other than Liberal G. Strawman in the future.

    my relatively minor run-in with the insanity of healthcare in this country last summer was enough to ensure that i'm never gonna support anything less than Death to Healthcare Companies.