View Full Version : Obama Democrats Demand Obama Keep Government Health Plan

08-18-2009, 01:25 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/20090818/pl_bloomberg/a4u0_7_zceme;_ylt=Ahg4VyJ4HljfuPJm2Ulzqpas0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTMydGhnZ25vBGFzc2V0A2Jsb29tYmVyZy8yMDA5MDgx OC9hNHUwXzdfemNlbWUEY3BvcwMzBHBvcwMxMgRwdANob21lX2Nva2UEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yeQRzbGsDZGVtc2RlbWFuZG9i

Aug. 18 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama is facing pressure from fellow Democrats to keep a government-run insurance plan in a health-care overhaul, with House lawmakers threatening to withhold support without it.

“To take the public option off the table would be a grave error,” leaders of the 83-member Congressional Progressive Caucus said in a letter last night to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Passage in the House of Representatives depends upon inclusion of it.”

The Democratic lawmakers also attached a July 30 letter from 60 party members to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that said any legislation that didn’t contain a government plan was “unacceptable.”

Sebelius sparked the response after she suggested on Aug. 16 that Obama may be willing to back down from including a federal insurance plan in a U.S. health-care revamp.

“We stand in strong opposition to your statement that the public option is ‘not the essential element’ of comprehensive reform,” read the letter to Sebelius, signed by Representatives Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Lynn Woolsey of California, who co-chair the progressive caucus, and Barbara Lee of California, who heads the Congressional Black Caucus.

‘Best Option’

Yesterday, Pelosi, also a California Democrat, said a government-run plan “is the best option to lower costs, improve the quality of health care, ensure choice and expand coverage.”

Republicans and some Democrats oppose the creation of a federal plan, saying it would undercut private insurers and give the government too great a role in health care. Lawmakers have fielded questions on the topic from constituents at town- hall meetings throughout the nation during their August recess. Legislation approved by three House committees and one Senate panel includes a government-run health plan.

Sebelius suggested on Sunday the administration may be retreating from the plan, saying that providing citizens with the alternative of government-run insurance isn’t vital to the health-care overhaul.

“What’s important is choice and competition,” Sebelius said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The public option itself “is not the essential element.”

Position Unchanged

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration’s position is unchanged and that media stories were an “overreaction” to what Sebelius said.

Obama would like to include a government-run program as an option for consumers, Gibbs told reporters today. He said the administration supports “choice and competition,” adding that “we’ve been boringly consistent.”

Sebelius echoed those remarks today, saying in a speech in Washington that “Sunday must have been a very slow news day” because nothing has changed in the administration’s position.

For Obama, the support of centrist Democrats in the Senate as well as a group of House lawmakers who have raised concerns about the $1 trillion cost of the overhaul is crucial. Yet he risks losing members of his party who advocate for a strong public plan.

“This is very much a thread-the-needle kind of legislative process,” said Democratic consultant Peter Fenn. “There are a lot of people who are going to be very disappointed if it turns out this doesn’t have a public option.”

Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, said a public plan “is the only proven way to guarantee that all consumers have affordable, meaningful and accountable options.”


Omitting the government plan “is a deal-breaker for many Democrats,” said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report in Washington.

The administration wants to “find a way to say that they will support a public option at some point and bring the Democratic base along with them,” Rothenberg said.

While Obama has made the public option a central component of an overhaul, he said in a town-hall meeting last week that it “is not the entirety of health-care reform.”

He has asked Congress to complete action this year on a medical-care plan that would expand coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and curb health costs that make up about a sixth of the nation’s economy. Polls show Americans increasingly disapprove of the legislation.

Easier to Compromise

Still, Charlie Cook, publisher of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said the flap may give Obama room to maneuver.

“This may make compromise a lot easier than a month or two months ago,” Cook said. “The silver lining of the town- meeting food fights is that many liberals now have a sense of the difficulty, the political pushback that a public option and other ambitious aspects create.”

As one alternative, the Senate Finance Committee is discussing cooperatives, or networks of health-insurance plans owned by their customers, that would get started with government funds as an alternative to the public plan.

08-18-2009, 01:33 PM
I have to admit, I like this Gibbs guy: he's a brilliant liar.

KC Dan
08-18-2009, 01:47 PM
This show by the dems rivals Cheers or Seinfeld or Friends. It's a laugh-a-minute. Thank you Democratic party. Oh, and thank you Repubs for just standing by and letting it happen. I hate you as well but at least you are are not messing up the works.

Garcia Bronco
08-18-2009, 03:43 PM
"Yesterday, Pelosi, also a California Democrat, said a government-run plan “is the best option to lower costs, improve the quality of health care, ensure choice and expand coverage.”

The sad thing is she did it with a straight face.

08-18-2009, 03:46 PM
"Yesterday, Pelosi, also a California Democrat, said a government-run plan “is the best option to lower costs, improve the quality of health care, ensure choice and expand coverage.”

The sad thing is she did it with a straight face.

Only because in her head, she was thinking, "And more money. And more power. And more money. And more power!"

08-18-2009, 04:17 PM
Labor Warns Dems: We'll Sit Out Election If You Oppose Public Plan
dirst Posted: 08-18-09 01:53 PM | Updated: 08-18-09 03:03 PM

One of the country's most prominent union officials is warning that big labor may pull its support from Democrats who don't fight for a government-run insurance plan.

In an interview with the Huffington Post on Saturday, Richard Trumka, the secretary-treasurer and likely next president of the AFL-CIO, said his federation is drawing a line in the sand when it comes to a public option in the health care bill. Lawmakers who don't support the provision, he said, shouldn't take anything for granted.

"We'll look at every one of their votes," Trumka said after his speech at the Netroots Nation convention. "If they're against the Employee Free Choice Act, if they're against health care for that reason, I think it'll be tough for them to get support from working people."

Trumka's remarks were echoed privately by several other labor officials at the convention in Pittsburgh. In particular, the emerging Senate Finance Committee plan - which seems unlikely to contain a public option and could end up taxing pricey health care packages - seems almost guaranteed to incite the unions.

"We'll oppose it," Trumka said, when asked about any bill that ends the tax exemption for employer coverage. "It's actually a stupid concept because if you tax those that have it to pay for those that don't, eventually those that have [benefits] won't. Then who do you ultimately tax?"

Trumka's warning shots come at a time that the AFL-CIO is charting out a more aggressive campaign to target lawmakers who, as one official put it, "take labor's help but don't vote for labor's interests." Part of that process is to hold out the prospect of electoral consequences.

Former DNC Chair, Howard Dean, likewise predicted that Democrats who vote against the public option would have to deal with a primary challenge.

Meanwhile, a group of progressive members of the House of Representatives made it clear on Monday that they will not support a health care bill that doesn't include a government run option for insurance coverage.

The AFL-CIO also intends to campaign against targets within the Republican Party and conservative media. In his speech on Saturday, Trumka called out "the entire cast at Fox News," for perpetuating fear and mistruths about the President's health care agenda. He also called Rush Limbaugh a "loudmouth," and decried the fake-grassroots movements being orchestrated in opposition to Democratic reform.

"We are going to continue to mobilize and counter the lies and the myths that they're trying to create to defeat this," he told the Huffington Post. "The special interests, the pharmaceutical industry, the health care industry are so vested in the current system they'll so anything to keep it this way and we have a job to do there.

"We're also going to keep politicians strong so that they don't listen to the moneymen and continue to erode away or negotiate away a program [so much that it] ultimately becomes useless. Right now, without a public option [reform] becomes useless. It won't change the current system."


08-18-2009, 04:19 PM
Rumors of the Public Option's death were a bit premature, it seems.

KC Dan
08-18-2009, 04:26 PM
Rumors of the Public Option's death were a bit premature, it seems.Then they'll pass it and it wil become law. If not, they have just themselves to blame.

08-18-2009, 05:22 PM
Rumors of the Public Option's death were a bit premature, it seems.

Not surprising since it was Obama, Sebelius, and key Dems who were the ones walking away from it.