Today on the Sunday Talk Shows
By Juliet Eilperin and John Amick
State of the Union: Nelson Backs 'Trigger' Option
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) backed the health-care reform plan du jour, a "trigger" option that would place mandates on insurance companies to cover more Americans over the next five years before a public option would be implemented.
Nelson, on CNN's "State of the Union," advocated an incremental approach in changing the health insurance structure, all the while insisting on more competition and focus on preventive measures to help drive down costs. Nelson's main critique of the Obama administration's handling of reform: The president didn't make clear how reform would impact those already insured. Those who believe something would be taken from them were the most worried and most disruptive, Nelson said.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said the "trigger" option simply "kicks the can down the road," and delays the inevitable, which, in his opinion, is government-run health care.
Pawlenty said of President Obama's speech to school children, which caused a tantrum among talk-radio conservatives, that it would be "disruptive" for the president to send a message on the first day of school since "kids are trying to find their classrooms."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said no one should be surprised by President Obama's low poll numbers since he's taking on some major, contentious issues like health care and energy/environmental legislation.
Meet The Press: Axelrod: Public Option Important, But Not Definitive
President Obama is determined to pass health care reform by the end of the year, according to his top political adviser, even if that means compromises.
"I think we are going to have major reform this year," David Axelrod said on NBC's "Meet The Press" Sunday. "American people want us to do it and I think we are going to get it done."
And while Axelrod made a point of defending the idea of a public option -- "The public option is an important tool to help provoke that where there is no competition" -- he made it clear that won't make or break the final bill. It "should not define the whole healthcare debate," Axelrod said.
More Sunday show wrap-ups after the jump.
This Week: Gibbs Calls Public Option a 'Valuable Tool'
Support appears to be growing for a "trigger" option where Americans would have access to a public option for health insurance after five years. Former Senate majority leaders Robert Dole (R-Kan.) and Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), both appearing on ABC's "This Week," suggest it could be a way to find middle ground.
Dole noted that while Obama "has every right" to push for an immediate public option, "I don't think it's going to go anywhere."
It remains unclear, however, whether lawmakers on either the left or the right will accept the idea of a trigger. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said any public insurance provider will be quickly overwhelmed during an economic downturn: "In this economy, there's no small business or large business worth its salt that isn't going to take a hard look at sending all of their employees to the federal government for their health insurance the minute a public option is available." And Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) rules out waiting-"I'm not for supporting five more years of these health insurers ripping off the American public."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, for his part, hinted at the president's flexibility, calling a public option "a valuable tool." Unlike Bill Clinton before him, Gibbs said, when it comes to a congressional health care speech, "Well, I doubt we're going to get into heavy veto threats on Wednesday."
Fox News Sunday: Gingrich Urges Incrementalism
Democrats sound ready to abandon bipartisanship on health care reform, while Republicans urge a more incremental approach. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) suggested President Obama would be better off passing a series of small bills on issues, such as tort reform, "with huge bipartisan majorities. The country would calm down. The president would be much stronger by Christmas. And we'd get a lot done."
And while Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) warned a Democrat-only approach "would be thumbing your nose at the American people, who have been telling Washington for the last three months, 'Slow down,'" former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) said it's the way to ensure a public option for insurance coverage and future electoral success. "My experience in politics is, if you don't use your majorities, you lose your majorities," Dean said. (Read more from the panel's discussion of health-care reform.)
Face the Nation: Education Sec. Laments Obama-Speech Flap
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed President Obama's planned speech to America's school children, in which the president plans to encourage kids to continue their education goals. The speech gained howls of anger from some conservatives who claimed he was attempting to "indoctrinate" the children.
"It's the kind of things I frankly don't pay any attention to," Duncan said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "We have major problems, we have major challenges in this country" that need our focus. (Read the section of the interview on Obama's speech.)
Duncan also stressed encouraging teenagers to pursue education goals beyond high school, especially in times the dropout rate has reached 30 percent, or 1.2 million students, among American high school students.
"We have to graduate many more students," Duncan said. "We have to make sure many more of those who graduate are prepared for some form of higher education. Four-year universities, two-year community colleges, trade, vocational, technical training, whatever it might be. A high school diploma does not begin to be enough in today's competitive economy."
Posted at 12:37 PM ET on Sep 6, 2009
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