Public Option the True Test of President Obama’s Game

gnipgnop

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.

Updated:Duh! Healthcare Bill Doesn’t ‘Outlaw Private Insurance’

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Earlier today, Twitter was all a-Itself with news, courtesy of Investor’s Business Daily, that the House healthcare reform bill “outlaws private insurance.”  I knew, without knowing, that they were misreading the thing, but haven’t had the chance to run through it yet.  Luckily, the Heritage Foundation debunks them, while ladling on their own false alarmism.

To sum it up, IBD reads a passage, from page 16 of the bill, that describes a grandfather provision which they interpret as “making private health insurance illegal,” but fail to read a paragraph on page 19 that explains it further.  Non-grandfathered policies would be required to compete in health exchanges, alongside the public option.

The Heritage article still thinks this is going to ruin everything because of “teh regulations!”

In order to qualify as an “Exchange-participating health benefits plan,” all health insurance plans must confirm to a slew of new regulations, including community rating and guaranteed issue. These will all drive up the cost of health insurance. Furthermore, all these new regs would not apply just to individual insurance plans, but to all insurance plans.

The irony here is that the health exchange fixes a major flaw in John McCain’s plan from the 2008 campaign.  McCain wanted people to be able to purchased insurance across state lines, but that would have meant trashing or weakening important protections for consumers.  Without them, there would simply be a race to the bottom to provide the cheapest, crummiest insurance to those who can’t afford more.  From my story on the subject:

Saying that all McCain wants to do is “erase artificial boundaries” between states is like saying, “I don’t want criminals to roam the countryside, I just want to unlock their cells so they can compete for the best one.”

In order to allow such “competition,” companies would need to be exempt from state regulations, regulations that protect consumers from being denied coverage, or being canceled if they get sick, or from being sold worthless insurance that doesn’t cover anything once you read the fine print.

The notion that insurance companies can’t compete while consumers are protected is a frightening one.  There may be some that can’t hack it, but maybe they’re the ones who need to go out of business.

Update: I finally found a complete copy of the bill that my crummy connection would let me download, and it turns out that the IBD headline is even dumber than I thought.  On page 15, immediately prior to their “Oh, noes!” paragraph, is a clearly labeled intro that states that the section is simply a definition of “grandfathered coverage,” which is then referenced on page 19:

GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE DEFINED.—Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term ‘‘grandfathered health insurance coverage’’ means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 (as defined in section 100(c)) if the following conditions are met:

That’s where IBD started reading, and stopped before they got to page 19.

More on this later.

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

Today’s Quickies and…Epic Pong Maneuver!

alex01thumbPaging Dr. Freud…good to know I’m not the only person who thinks the right’s fascination with sex that they consider to be perverted and wrong is hi-larious.

And it’s good to see that Rahm’s helping Geithner out. Hey, whatever Rahm wants, Rahm gets.

Also, there’s an interesting YouTube video making the rounds of Condoleezza Rice debating a Stanford student, complete with such lovely and thoughtful user comments as “Don’t you wag your finger you traitorous cunt! Up against the wall with you!” and “Condoleezza for the WIN! FUCK OBAMA!”

Charming.

Finally, have this epic pong video, courtesy of Caleb.

Today’s Quickies and…Rocket Babies

Levi Johnston is kind of an ass. Look, if you’re gonna scummily dish on your sex life, go all the way.  Be like, “Tyra, I always thought those Penthouse letters were made up…”

But seriously, dude! Your son is going to see that some day.

This is only funny in the abstract:  Rocket fuel in baby formula.  Aside from the obvious jokes, the article actually says this: “The formula also contains a compound that can counteract the rocket fuel chemical’s effects.”  I’ve never heard of simultaneous food poisoning and unpoisoning.

Rush Limbaugh Slam Poetry.

This site can suck it!

This headline sounds like a Wall Street Journal article written by Dr. Seuss.

I have a follower named Kristy Kaleal now.  Is she related to Superman?

Good day to be gay.

Obama is effin’ funny. “OBAMA TO CEOS: I’M “THE ONLY THING BETWEEN YOU AND THE PITCHFORKS”  Classic.

Cyberstalk Rahm Emanuel.

Ward Churchill wins a dollar.

Tenacious D meets Conchords meets Fellini.

You can’t breathe in Jello.

Dick! (h/t OhHellNawl)