Monday, October 5, 2009

Obama Twisting Arms for the Public Option?

According to the LA Times:
Report ing from Washington - Despite months of outward ambivalence about creating a government health insurance plan, the Obama White House has launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to get divided Senate Democrats to take up some version of the idea for a final vote in the coming weeks.

President Obama has cited a preference for the so-called public option. But faced with intense criticism over the summer, he strategically expressed openness to health cooperatives and other ways to offer consumers potentially more affordable alternatives to private health plans.

In the last week, however, senior administration officials have been holding private meetings almost daily at the Capitol with senior Democratic staff to discuss ways to include a version of the public plan in the healthcare bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring to the Senate floor this month, according to senior Democratic congressional aides.
This great news, and marks a major turning point in the battle for the public option. The timing and placement of the story means one of two things:
  • A) Obama has been fighting for a public option behind the scenes for months as the story implies. (Considering that this would contradict 3-4 months of press accounts from literally every source and news outlet, not really buying it without more information)
  • B) The administration has realized that the easiest way to pass a bill is to include a public option, rather than their previous calculation that the opposite was true.
I'd been hoping for option B for a long time now, and if I had to bet on it I'd say that's what happened. Jane Hamsher has a more pessimistic take, and the Hill version of this story seems to lean towards her argument. But regardless of why, it's phenomenal to have this story out there. Telling the world that the President is putting private pressure in favor of the public option is beyond huge in terms of where it moves the debate, and excatly what has been needed over the past several months.

The public option is the easiest way to pass a bill, and it appears this could finally be the path taken by the Democratic leadership. There's still lots of work to be done, but theses are really good signs.

1 comment:

  1. "some version" is kinda worrying though, maybe some assurance that the public option that makes it through to the end will be something more than just a name attached to a bunch of empty pages?