Public Option the True Test of President Obama’s Game


This has seemed like a bad week for healthcare reform.  Congressional Blue Dogs are doing their damnedest to kill the public option, and the White House seeming to backtrack on their support of it.  While expressing strong support for it, Gibbs has consistently refused to draw a line in the sand on the public option, and this week, inched back a little.

If this were any other politician, I’d be throwing my hands up in disgust, because this is how these backslides start.  The obvious interpretation is that the White House is innoculating itself from the public option’s defeat.

In Barack Obama’s case, though, this isn’t so obvious.  I’ve spoken before about his unique political MO, likening it to the “rope-a-dope.”  In this case, I hope, he’s being more of a chess player.  Since I’m more of a Gnip-Gnop player, I haven’t got it all figured out yet.

It is important to note that my confidence in the President, to this point, is based on past performance, not magical thinking.  He’s a progressive in triangulator’s clothing.  I’ve been sure he was blowing it before, only to be proven wrong.

This time may be different, however.  He was right to determine that momentum was key to passing strong reform.  Already, this week, one poll is being used deceptively to claim support for a public option is slipping.  The spineless sellout Blue Dogs think they’re in the driver’s seat.  Opponents of the public option continue to pound the public with lies.  Now, it seems like the White House is sounding the retreat.

If Barack Obama is the chess player I think he is, he’s got a plan to rescue the public option from the Blue Dogs.  If I’m right, it will involve Rahm Emanuel and some blunt conversations about mid-term elections.

I don’t think that Barack Obama is a bad enough politician to take the disastrous hit of no public option when he’s got airtight majorities in both houses of Congress.  On the other hand, he likes for it to look like the other guy’s idea.

Either way, I hope the President knows that defying his base, and 76% of Americans, is not an option.  Time to use that powder.

Update: President Obama responds to ‘Public Option Cave’ Story

Update: I told you so.  Jump to the end for a statement the President released this morning, obviously in response to the WSJ article.

The Huffington Post is running the scare headline “WHITE HOUSE MAY CAVE ON PUBLIC OPTION,” linking toxraybanner this Wall Street Journal report that seems to have Rahm Emanuel begging Republicans and Blue Dogs to punch the public option in the face:

It is more important that health-care legislation inject stiff competition among insurance plans than it is for Congress to create a pure government-run option, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Monday.

“The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest,” he said in an interview. “The goal is non-negotiable; the path is” negotiable.

What the frak, Rahm?  Didn’t I just get done saying how you guys punked the Blue Dogs with the $611 billion HELP committee bill that includes a public option?

Coming, as it does, on the heels of President Obama’s urging that outside groups stop attacking cojone-free Democrats on the public option, supporters of the public option are not too happy with Rahm’s comments (or “Rahmments). Continue reading

Study: Under Contrived Conditions, Gov’t Health Care Ruins Lives (In Theory)

alex01thumbOh! Oh! Stop the presses! New healthcare data is incoming! According to a new study from the Goldman School at the University of California, Berkeley, in a ‘worst-case scenario’, a ‘pay or play’ employer mandate in a national healthcare plan could cause the loss of 166,095 jobs. Don’t worry, proponents of universal healthcare – the ‘worst-case scenario’ is in roughly the same realm of probability as is my hair spontaneously combusting while I brush my teeth. In the case of the employer mandate, that dreadful scenario is dependent on such unlikely factors as companies not opting to pay the payroll tax, and small employers not being exempt. (Under the draft by House Democrats, those employers which decide against complying with the mandate would pay a penalty of 8 percent of their overall payroll, something few would want to risk.)

The study, conducted for the Economic Policy Institute and the Institute for America’s future, says that the policy would likely result in ‘significant job gains’, according to Phillip Cryan at the Goldman school. Both think tanks behind this study are liberal or progressive, and the study states that new jobs would be created by the government healthcare system in most situations.

Surprisingly, last Tuesday, Wal-Mart announced its support for an employer mandate, lending the idea the star brand power that only Wal-Mart can.

When boiled down to its component parts, this is basically just conservatives saying that a ‘pay or play’ employer mandate for health care will cause job loss, and liberals saying that quite the opposite is true. So it’s the exact same thing as normal, only dressed up for Halloween in science costumes. In short, nothing new here, just liberals promoting a progressive economic policy concerning healthcare while conservatives fear the worst and claim the economy and American taxpayers will suffer. Color me surprised.