Sunday, August 16, 2009

Is Obama Backing Down on the Public Option?

Politico reports today that given the fact that on three recent occasions, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs, and Obama himself have separately downplayed the need for a public option, the option that includes government-funded health insurance for the under 65, an option that was up to just recently, was stridently argued for, that the public option is off the table.

For now.

Sebelius on the Sunday news program This Week has called the public option as “not the essential element” of the reform plan.

Robert Gibbs, appearing on Face the Nation was heard to have said “The president has thus far sided with the notion that that can best be done through a public option”

Thus far.

That’s code-talk for a change in the public option option.

And Obama himself, at the Grand Junction, Colorado town hall meting has this to say about the public option:

“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.”

This is a far cry from what he said just a couple of months ago:

“I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans. This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest.

So why the change of heart? Why is it that the public option has morphed from a necessity for true reform to “one sliver” of it?

Is Obama still clinging to the idea that this can be done in a bi-partisan way?

No, actually I don’t think this is about bi-partisanship at all. The Republican Party is on the ropes and everyone knows it. Only one party is going to kill true health care reform, and it’s not the Republicans.

The answer, I fear, is that the heard of cats known as Democratic Senators and Congressmen are falling all over themselves to kill true reform. Some of these guys won’t fall in line, and Obama is either unable or unwilling to force the public option down their throats.

Before accepting defeat on this and settling for something so watered-down that it won’t solve anything, I would like to see Obama come over to these intransigent Senators and simply ask them “What’s it going to take?” And keep on asking them that until he hears the real answer.

Because we all know that these guys didn’t get where they were by being intractable louts. They got where they are now through “the art of the deal.”


Anonymous said...

Wording has become increasingly tricky and slippery to navigate, particularly, in today's viciousness of the opposing politics to “(willfully) misinterpret”... and the sensationalism to up the ante in the media/press for news programs' ratings is not to far behind, either.

Anonymous said...

Great politician. Questionable leader.

Again, LBJ would have had this signed, sealed and delivered by now.

Expect to see a shake-up of White House staff if the public option is abandoned. Thus far (and it's by no means over), President Obama's administration has been unable to craft an effective, consistent, compelling message on their plan that connects with the people of the United States. Maybe Robert Gibbs is the first casualty? Isn't he the most visible "message man."

But bottom line, the leadership of the President is at question. He has all the political capital in the world. He should be able to get what he wants. And Hal is correct...if he doesn't it's not the Republicans to's the Democrats and the lack of Presidential leadership.

Anonymous said...

Baloney. I agree with the New York Times of August 17, 2009--It's not Obama's policy or his leadership. It is just anti-Obama the man and we all know why that is.

Anonymous said...

Again...maybe Democrats really don't want health care reform.

Let's recap...

Truman tried and it didn't work.

Clinton (both of 'em) tried and it failed miserably.

And now President Obama appears to be backing away from what he promised during the campaign (while having control of both chambers of congess). Does he really want reform??? I'm beginning to think not.

Anonymous said...

So if President Obama was white, there would be no outcry on healthcare?

If so, maybe he should go "Michael Jackson" on us and become a white man.

Anonymous said...

If Obama is being stymied by both houses of Congress, I think it is grossly unfair to question his leadership as well as his intent and efforts in pursuit of healthcare reform.

Since as you point out, so historically, a great point, by the way; and, thus, the historic value of what you state reveals that this has been a slippery slope and thorny, challenge with former presidents, previously; and to that end, was “not actualized” by those president heretofore.

Therefore, if their desire/intent for healthcare reform was not questioned as dubious or insincere when it did not come to fruition, why question Obama's desire/intent for reform as dubious or insincere, if it indeed. it does not come to fruition?

Sounds like a double standard to me. A standard for the former Presidents Truman and Clinton who tried and did not succeed at reforming healthcare, but ,yet, you are applying a different standard for Obama and so if he fails and the healthcare reform is once again not obtained, in essence, according to you, you will question the sincerity of his reform attempt from jumpstart. Hmmmm. I ain’t buying what you are peddling at the back door.

Hal said...

I am actually dumbfounded about why there is not a more concerted effort to apply thumbscrews to get this pushed through.

Obama has demonstrated an almost unreal ability to see four moves ahead in any chess game. All I am saying is that I cannot see it at this point, and can only hope against hope (not my style, by the way) that he knows how to deliver this. And that his is how he makes the deal.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Hal I understand your point.

I hope the News Times' news piece I read yesterday (8/17/09) is on target in which it states that the reluctance of some who thought they were against healthcare reform is due to lack of understanding; however, Obama's televised Town Meeting in Colorado recently has helped clear the feather's out of some people's head--my daughter for one.

Furthermore, to summarize the News Times' news piece, holistically speaking, the Stepford Wives-Type Protestors with Far-Right Wing marching orders from those who lead them by the noses make up the small percentage of vehement opposers.

In response to Anon above who posed the question:
"So if President Obama was white, there would be no outcry on healthcare?"

My response: No and yes. No, not in the same vehement hateful manner to purposely set out to oppose Obama’s healthcare reform by actualizing shouting down discussion format as orchestrated and exhibited by the same folks who are behind the Teabaggers and/or are Teabaggers. Yes, there would be opposers to Healthcare reform as with Clinton and prior to Clinton, Truman, but the opposers would exhibit decorum and not engage with an organized, destructive agenda with the hostile and sometimes behavior bordering on violence for the absolute, driven, sole purpose of shouting down respectful, courteous debate in a strategized effort to destroy at all cost civil discussion to thwart the possibility of healthcare reform as they are doing with Obama.

Anonymous said...

So President Obama's race is a factor in not being able to get health care reform enacted.

Given that the Democrats alone can implement the change he wants (as Hal points out, not a single Republican vote is needed), are the Democrats in the House and Senate being racist?

Anonymous said...


If what I have stated is not comprehended as what I have stated-then, suffice it to say, any further explanation is moot.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the impact of President Obama's race in the health care debate...are you claiming the Blue Dog Democrats (like the Republicans who oppose President Obama's plan) are racist?