Friday, September 4, 2009

A Rough Week For The Public Option

So despite the evidence that a strong public option may be the only way to pass the bill through the senate, the administration seems to be pushing full speed ahead towards health care non-reform.

The most recent Evidence(via Digby):
In Case You Were Wondering what Chuck Todd thinks, he just said unequivocally on Andrea Mitchell that the Finance Committee bill is Obama's preferred bill, that it is being done with the cooperation of the White House, and that once it is released, Obama will do everything in his power to pass that bill.

Chuck Todd is a bit of a dim bulb, but he is a perfect purveyor of beltway conventional wisdom. His proclamation is what the Village believes and regardless of whether or not it's true, the debate will be shaped by that preconceived notion.
Four bills that contain the public option that he supposedly wants have passed four different committees, yet he chooses to push the only one that leaves it out.

And if that wasn't clear enough, today we get some quotes that sound like a Bill Clinton Strategy Memo circa 1994:
On health care, Obama’s willingness to forgo the public option is sure to anger his party’s liberal base. But some administration officials welcome a showdown with liberal lawmakers if they argue they would rather have no health care law than an incremental one. The confrontation would allow Obama to show he is willing to stare down his own party to get things done.

“We have been saying all along that the most important part of this debate is not the public option, but rather ensuring choice and competition,” an aide said. “There are lots of different ways to get there.”
How about David Axelrod's creepy sounding talk on "the spirit" of the public option:
As to the fate of a government option plan to compete with private insurance, Axelrod suggested the controversial concept is gone but not forgotten: "The spirit that led him to support a public option is still very much at play here and so you know he wants competition. He wants choice. "
Yeah, I'm sure "the spirit" of actual competition has the insurance companies quaking in their boots.

And apologies for being quote heavy, but the most disconcerting news just came from a statement by Raul Grijalva, co chair of the progressive caucus:

Last night, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus sent out a telling press release.

"I have grave concerns about calls reportedly being made from the Administration to health care reform advocacy organizations supporting the choice of a public option insurance plan," Grijalva said.

Grijalva said the White House is telling health care reformers, "they will cease supporting the public option portion of the upcoming health care reform legislation"


Though I can not confirm Grijalva's specific claim entirely, after a number of off-the-record conversations with congressional and advocacy sources, it's clear that many progressives are preparing themselves to be disappointed next week.

Low-level White House officials have reached out to certain reform groups that have staked their ground on the need for a public option, I'm told, and warned them not to spend any more money advocating for the policy--that it's just not worth it. That suggestion hasn't been heeded--at least for now. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and Democracy for America raised over $100,000 to continue running this ad in Iowa after Congress returns from recess.

But a White House official told the New York Times "It's so important to get a deal [that Obama] will do almost anything it takes to get one," which strikes some as an all-too-apt description of the White House's mentality.

If these reports end up being true, then it brings one of the crappiest legislative/policy strategies that I can ever remember to a close. The fact that we've gotten to this point makes me so angry/depressed it's hard to see straight.

I don't know what next Wednesday's speech will bring, but these are not good signs. What we do know is that next week will be a fork in the road for Obama presidency, the progressive movement and most causes that you care about. Stay tuned.

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