The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


The Rundown

Obama's 'trigger' stance irks the Hill

By Ben Pershing
House and Senate Democrats are, for the moment, moving in different directions on their respective health-care reform bills. But they do agree on one point -- President Obama isn't doing enough to help them.

In the Senate, Harry Reid is expected to ask CBO for a cost estimate of his compromise bill Monday. "Democratic leaders in the Senate think they are close to getting the votes they need in order to pass an 'opt-out' version of the public option," Jonathan Cohn writes. "But they feel like President Obama could be doing more to help them, with one senior staffer telling TNR on Sunday that the leadership would like, but has yet to receive, a clear 'signal' of support for their effort." The White House has so far sounded more amenable to Olympia Snowe's "trigger" idea than the plan Reid is pushing, and Huffington Post reported Saturday that Obama is "actively discouraging" the opt-out provision in favor of a trigger. And the Progressive Change Campaign Committee already has an ad up in Maine urging Obama not to give in to Snowe's demands. (Dan Pfeiffer posted a statement Sunday night dismissing the "rumor ... that the White House and Senator Reid are pursuing different strategies on the public option. Those rumors are absolutely false.")

In the House, Roll Call writes that House Democrats are "frustrated" that the White House seemed to leak its preference last week for a trigger, sapping momentum from Nancy Pelosi's push for a stronger bill. The paper adds that Pelosi "had hoped to 'freeze the design' of the package last week, but moderate pushback to her preferred approach to the public plan ... forced another delay." A good chunk of moderate lawmakers oppose a public plan with reimbursement rates tied to Medicare, but dozens of liberals say they will vote against a measure with negotiated rates. The Hill reports that rural and urban House Democrats squabbled last week over the details of a deal on reimbursement rates. Though the details are uncertain, House leaders hope to have a vote on their package by Friday, Nov. 6 (which more likely means early the morning of Nov. 7.) The chamber is scheduled to have a one-week recess immediately after that, and leaders always like to use the lure of an impending break to speed action.

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Posted at 8:27 AM ET on Oct 26, 2009  | Category:  The Rundown
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I'm glad that this story is making the rounds. It's important to remember a couple of salient talking points:

1) Just about every expert (aside from the usual CATO-like suspects) agrees that substantive reform of the health care industry will require some form of government-run health care. Whether that's a "public option" or the much stronger single payer remains to be seen, but "do nothing" is not an option (when 45,000 preventable deaths per year are due to our current system, and when premiums are rising 10 times faster than inflation).

2) The public option is *incredibly* popular (in fact, some polls put the public option as more popular than health care reform itself; people aren't as scared of government-run health care as they are of the insurance industry; one is an unknown, but the other -- the insurers -- is a very well-known evil).

3) Despite his pretty speeches, Obama has been essentially fighting *against* health care reform since early this year. Reader's Digest explanation: he and Rahm cut a deal with AHIP and PhRMA to exclude real reform from the "reform bill" in return for the lobbies not fighting against reform, and for future DLC lobbying dollars. But this is not what the people need; it's just what's politically expedient. Reid's about-face is due to *intense* political pressure from liberal and progressive groups (which I am proud to number myself a member of) to keep REAL reform on the table. Essentially, we're threatening -- with lobbying dollars and primary election campaigns -- to remove DINO's (Democrats in Name Only), and the campaign is paying off; Congress is finally showing some spine and not just taking what Rahm/Obama are trying to spoonfeed us.

So, while the battle is FAR from over -- expect to hear "triggers" make an attempted comeback, expect lots of shoddy journalism saying "the public option is dead!" and expect lots of Fox News-style invective from the increasingly-impotent Right -- this is a significant, SIGNIFICANT victory. Thank the folks at groups like Firedoglake, the PCCC and the AFL-CIO (not to mention millions of dollars in lobbying money and countless phone calls and emails from "ordinary citizens"), we're closer to REAL health care reform than we've been at any time since the inception of Medicare itself.

Now's the time to double down. We're WINNING, folks!

Posted by: ouroborous | October 26, 2009 9:04 PM

Posted by: rooster54 | October 26, 2009 1:31 PM

Are you really naive enough to believe what you just said?
When money talks, democracy walks.

Posted by: rooster54 | October 26, 2009 1:18 PM

rooster54 says: "2/3rds of Americans want the public option."

If that were true there would already be a bill on Obama's desk. You are evidently attempting to convince yourself of your opinion.

Posted by: OregonStorm | October 26, 2009 11:44 AM

Talk about sweeeeeeet. I love the idea of a state by state opt out. Come on Red staters-opt out. It's just what I would expect from products of schools ranked at or near the bottom in education, (although my guess is that over half of you are already on "socialized medicine", but are too obtuse to realize it-or use the ER as your main source of health insurance).

Posted by: whereareweandwhatarewedoinginthishandbasket | October 26, 2009 11:36 AM

The president is sending signals I cannot fully understand.

But clearly this 'trigger' approach is off key --given what we were made to believe. However, in time, I hope to get some sense of the strategy behind all this.

Posted by: Victoria5 | October 26, 2009 11:07 AM

The president is sending signals I cannot fully understand.

But clearly this 'trigger' approach is off key --given what we were made to believe. However, in time, I hope to get some sense of the strategy behind all this.

Posted by: Victoria5 | October 26, 2009 11:07 AM

What a wonderful Congress we have. 500 billion cut in medicare and all the seniors are supposed to be jumping around in joy. Does anyone realize that the baby boomers are just entering medicare? Does this mean rationing of health care to seniors? Duh.

Posted by: buzzychief | October 26, 2009 10:58 AM

2/3rds of Americans want the public option. You're either with the American people, or you're with the terrorists, er I mean insurrorists.

Posted by: rooster54 | October 26, 2009 10:49 AM

On the one hand, what can Obama do? He's supposed to keep us all together and lead us. But, on the other hand, he won with a mandate. He stood for change, and we need it. We need leadership. If only Republicans weren't such obstructionists.

Visit my blog to discuss!

Posted by: thepoliticrat | October 26, 2009 10:35 AM


The house and senate both had votes on all the issues that grew the government and the appropriations which funded those. Democrats are just as much to blame as Republicans.

Posted by: colascguy | October 26, 2009 9:54 AM

A hidden danger of addressing health care reform before human rights violations?


• Deposed Honduras President Manuel Zaleya confirms the essence what unjustly targeted citizens worldwide -- including this journalist -- have been reporting for years...

...military, secret security and intelligence services of many nations, including the U.S., silently assault and torture "targeted individuals," including those regarded as "dissenters" or slandered as undesirables, with debilitating, health-degrading, "slow-kill" electromagnetic microwave and laser radiation weapons systems -- reported to include a nationwide installation disguised as cell towers.


OR (if link is corrupted): RE: "Gov't Tortures" and "Gestapo USA."

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 26, 2009 9:53 AM

After Bush grew govt. 60%, spent 1.5 trillion on the Iraq mistake, and gave billions in tax breaks to those who didn't need it, and never vetoed a Rep. spending bill while Pres., I can appreciate getting healthcare right, or just throwing in the towel on the middle class. The Rep. created the largest wealth disparity since the robber baron days, and if we don't get cheaper healthcare, I, as a small business owner will just lay people off so I can afford my own healthcare.

Posted by: crossroadsnow | October 26, 2009 9:43 AM

How can anyone doubt that Obama is just another Corporate Shill ?

Posted by: tru-indy | October 26, 2009 9:10 AM

Wow suddenly the right is concerned about the deficit, where were they when they were spending without limit in Iraq ? what did we got from our adventure there ?

Posted by: tqmek1 | October 26, 2009 9:07 AM

I also am concerned about the deficit and the national debt.
It is time for Congress and the Administration to provide us with their ideas to address this growing problem!

Posted by: mwhoke | October 26, 2009 9:04 AM

Someone should be asking the CBO what it is going to cost if the US loses its AAA rating. Our congress needs to get a clue that the National Debt and Budget Deficits do matter.

Posted by: colascguy | October 26, 2009 8:59 AM

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