The death of the public option has been greatly exaggerated. While the President and is staff have been purposely wishy-washy about the government controlled insurance company option, the president has been hard at work, pulling out all the stops to put America well on the road to a single-payer system.
The apparent “back-peddle” (The public option isn’t what the bill is all about)was declared as the death of the public option by many pundits. And when the Senate Finance Committee recently rejected two different versions of the government-run option, many said that nailed the door shut.
Fact is it was just a magicians sleight of hand to take the heat off the White House while the President and the Democratic Party lobbies while ignoring the will of the people, doing their best to force a government option down our collective throats.
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.
…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.
The President is doing much more than negotiating, its arm-twisting time:
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.
Administration officials are also distributing talking points and employing other campaign-style devices to rally support for passing a bill this fall.
The White House initiative, unfolding largely out of public view, follows months in which the president appeared to defer to senior lawmakers on Capitol Hill as they labored to put together gargantuan health care bills.
…and Mr. Transparent President is relying on the “back room deal”
It also marks a critical test of Obama’s command of the inside game in Washington in which deals are struck behind closed doors and wavering lawmakers are cajoled and pressured into supporting major legislation.
“The challenge is to go to the (Senate) floor, hold the deal,” said Steve Elmendorf, a lobbyist who was chief of staff to former House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt. But “they are more involved than people think. They have a plan and a strategy, and they know what they want to get and they work with people to get it.”
….That has Democratic leaders looking for ways to insert some form of the concept into a Senate bill without jeopardizing centrist support.
To that end, Obama is lavishing attention on moderate lawmakers while he continues to talk up the public option.
He has met repeatedly in private with Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, who has floated a proposal to allow states to set up government plans as a fallback if commercial insurers do not control premiums.
The president has also discussed health care at least three times recently with Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., one of the most outspoken Democratic critics of the public option.
When Obama spoke by phone recently with Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., he made a point of the breadth of support for the public option, the senator said in an interview. Cantwell authored a proposal to let states set up public plans that Democrats added to the Senate Finance Committee bill on Wednesday.
And when Pennsylvania Democrats came to the White House recently to celebrate the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup win, Obama pulled some of them aside and reiterated his commitment to the public option even as Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was preparing a bill without one.
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are also laboring to reverse the impression that the public option is a politically risky vote for conservative Democrats.
Folks we have to know that they are wrong…..time to make more phone calls. We have been hearing for weeks that the public option was dead and gone, and it is very much alive. We must defeat it for our futures, the future of our children and the future of our country. Call, write, tweet, anything, but let your representatives know how you feel.