Sunday, September 6, 2009

Are Dems Poised To Give In On A Public Option?

Is that the Democrats' white flag?

From the AP:
White House officials said Sunday a government health insurance option is negotiable, signaling a potential compromise on an issue that President Barack Obama's liberal supporters consider do-or-die.
As Obama prepares for a Wednesday night speech to Congress in a risky bid to salvage his top domestic priority, political adviser David Axelrod said a public plan is not the core issue in the health care debate. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs danced around a question about whether Obama would veto a bill without the public option.
The president "believes the public option is a good tool," said Axelrod, who joined with Gibbs in a one-two punch on the Sunday talk shows. "It shouldn't define the whole health care debate, however."
Their appearances came ahead of Congress' return this week from a summer break that saw eroding public support for an overhaul and contentious town hall meetings in lawmakers' districts.
Gibbs called the government plan a valuable tool. But asked if Obama would reject legislation that didn't include it, he responded: "We are not going to prejudge where the process will be."
"I doubt we are going to get into heavy veto threats" in the president's speech, Gibbs added.
Their comments on the public plan echoed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' remarks last month that a government alternative to private insurance is "not the essential element" in revamping the system to guarantee coverage for all and try to curb unsustainable costs.
Liberals — many of whom want to do away with the private health insurance industry and replace it with Medicare for all — were furious. At the time, White House officials said Sebelius' remarks were being misinterpreted. Left unclear was Obama's bottom line.
Now it seems that Obama and his top aides are coming around to the view that a public plan is not essential. On a call with prominent liberal House members Friday, Obama refused to be pinned down on the issue, a participant told The Associated Press.
Democrats rule the House and the Senate, and Barack Obama was elected in part due to his campaign pledge to reform health care. Most agree that true reform must include a public option. And now that option is being described as a "tool," and non-essential.
Why are Republican ideas still winning in Washington?

BeltwayBlips: vote it up!

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