We Made Him Do It
I agree with most everyone that it's good to have this out there:
Despite months of seeming ambivalence about creating a government health insurance plan, the Obama White House has launched an intensifying behind-the-scenes campaign to get divided Senate Democrats to take up some version of the idea in the weeks just ahead.
President Barack Obama has long advocated a so-called public option, while at the same time repeatedly expressing openness to other ways to offer consumers a potentially more affordable alternative to health plans sold by private insurers.
But now, senior administration officials are 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 health care bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to bring to the Senate floor later this month, according to senior Democratic congressional aides.
Among those regularly in the meetings are Obama's top health care adviser, Nancy-Ann DeParle, aides to Reid, and Senate finance and health committee staff, both of which developed health care bills.
At the same time, Obama has been reaching out personally to rank-and-file Senate Democrats, telephoning more than a dozen lawmakers in the last week to press the case for action.
If the "left of the left" didn't agitate and activate folks throughout the debate, this story wouldn't exist. And neither would the public option. The White House is now trying to save face by getting something they can call the public option into the bill. They cannot not have it, at this point. The pressure has been ratcheted up too high.
So there will be a public option in there, I'm convinced of that now. The question is what will it look like? Chuck Schumer seems to be saying that Tom Carper's state-based network would maybe be the answer. That's really no worse than Schumer's level-playing field version. None of them will have the scale and scope to really compete with insurance companies. But all of them can be expandable. And that's what's important at this point.
It took several months of banging on these politicians just to get a weak version of a public option in a position to possibly succeed. Meanwhile some conservative can just say the word "ACORN" and get their federal funding revoked. There's a definite imbalance there. But progressive power is at least imaginable, and hopefully when this passes and the world doesn't go up in flames, it will get easier.