Monday, March 15, 2010

Democrats Continue to Back Away From the Public Option

As White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs makes the rounds saying that health care reform will be the "law of the land" within the week, it is continually important to examine the demise of the public option.

In August of last year, when the Obama Administration started to waiver on supporting the public option, I wrote the following which still holds relevance to the situation that we find ourselves in today:

In this instance it is important to remember that while President Obama may offer his support for the public option, it doesn't necessarily mean that he would veto legislation that did not contain such a provision. The Administration is looking for a win on this issue and I think it is pretty clear that if a political win can be obtained through passing a bill that doesn't have the public option attached, then Obama will probably sign such a bill. We have seen this type of behavior from Obama throughout his political career and it is what led many to emphasize (pre-2008 election) that Obama is a centrist Democrat who is more willing to adapt to existing institutions than fundamentally fight to change them.


If Obama chooses to spend his political capital by signing a bill that does not fundamentally change the health care system and is a watered-down version that contains mild reforms, then it is almost certainly going to be a failure. It will be a failure for the millions of Americans who are in need of health care, it will be a failure for progressives who voted for Obama last November, and it will be a failure for true reform.

Not only has President Obama and the Democratic leadership shown that they are not married to the public option, they have shown a gross failure in leadership in working to pass this provision that they all say they support. If they say they support the public option then why wouldn't they fight for it? Because the Senate Democrats and the White House really don't support this provision quite as much as they may say. This clip from The Rachel Maddow Show last week illustrates this perfectly:

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and yet somehow Dennis Kucinich is the bad guy because he has stated that he will vote against the current legislation if it does not contain the public option?

These are interesting times.

Here is Kucinich stating his piece during a radio interview with Ian Masters from last week:

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