It is more important that health-care legislation inject stiff competition among insurance plans than it is for Congress to create a pure government-run option, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Monday.
"The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest," he said in an interview. "The goal is non-negotiable; the path is" negotiable.
I am pleased by the progress we're making on health care reform and still believe, as I've said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest. I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals.
What happened here? Rahm likely was blabbering to a reporter and just went with his natural gut instinct -- to be weak, and cave to Republicans. As I told the New York Times Caucus blog recently:
Advisers like Rahm Emanuel operate out of fear — like it’s 1994 — instead of operating like people who just won a huge mandate in 2008. They obviously haven’t mastered the bully pulpit yet, which is a shame since Obama is a master communicator. If Obama insisted on the public option and held rallies in Montana, Nebraska, and Louisiana, it would happen.
Today's quote by Obama was a great step. Good job, White House (minus one). Rallies in Montana, Nebraska, and Louisiana would be another good step.
But here's a step progressives can take without waiting for the White House...
Today, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee will announce to our email list that we're redoubling efforts to push Senate Democrats in the right direction -- buying a second week of TV ads in DC with your name in it. Sign your name at WeWantThePublicOption.com and help us keep these ads on the air as long as possible by chipping in here. (A few $50 contributions allows the ad to run one more time on MSNBC.)
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do bold things that truly help people. We can't let scared politicians like Rahm or Ben Nelson mess it up.