Loss of public option is Obama's gain
By Ben Pershing
During his "combative" interview with 60 Minutes this past weekend, President Obama appeared particularly irritated by Steve Kroft's suggestion that he had simply "turned over" health care -- his top legislative priority -- to Congress.
"That's not true," Obama responded, before agreeing with the idea that he had "set the guidelines" for the congressional debate. Indeed, the White House signaled months ago (but denied it) that it was willing to give up on the public option in order to get a reform bill through the Senate. And now here we sit on Dec. 16, with the last vestige of a public option -- the Medicare buy-in -- gone and chances suddenly good that the chamber will approve a measure before Christmas. After meeting with Senate Democrats Tuesday, Obama said they were "on the precipice" of victory and added that the bill included "all the criteria that I laid out" during his address to a joint session of Congress.
Perhaps the White House was right all along about where the negotiations would end up -- without a public option -- but Harry Reid may have chosen the right way to get there. If the public option had been dropped for good weeks ago, without Christmas and the end of the year looming, would liberal senators have gone along? On Tuesday, the Washington Post writes, "Liberals fumed over the abandonment of a government-run insurance option, but they did not defect, and as a final vote neared, strenuous efforts to win the support of even a single Republican seemed increasingly unlikely to succeed." The Hill's headline: "Liberals grit their teeth and gather behind healthcare reform bill." After meeting with Obama, the Boston Globe writes, lawmakers "said they would rather pass a weaker measure than go home empty-handed and miss a rare opportunity for a historic expansion of health care."
December 16, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: The Rundown
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