There is an argument taking place right now in the progressive blogosphere about whether or not President Obama supports a public insurance option in health care reform. There are two quick responses to this fight:
We are at an impasse where, due to a Progressive Block in the House, health care reform legislation cannot pass that chamber without a robust public option. In the Senate, it appears that no bill with a robust public option can reach 60 votes. As such, whether or President Obama supports the concept of the public option is not the important point. Rather, the important point is whether the Obama administration, in order to achieve a health care bill, is more willing and able to pressure the Progressive Block in the House or the Conservadem Block in the Senate.
- In the theoretical abstract, of course President Obama supports a public option. He said so on the campaign trail. White House spokespeople reiterated that support yesterday. Inside sources I have tell me that President Obama has told them personally that he supports a public option. And I'm not the only one. So yes, every indication is that President Obama supports a public option.
- The goal isn't to have a President who agrees with the concept of a public option. Rather, the goal is to actually have a robust public option that is available to all Americans. Some people might be confusing these two ideas. Personally, I think this is because some people in progressive media are more interested in engaging the long running "Obama is a progressive versus Obama hurting progressives" argument, rather than actually achieving legislative results. I don't know how large either group actually is, and even combined they are certainly not a majority of the progressive blogosphere community, but both groups are more interested in winning that argument than actually achieving legislative results.
In this light, I don't actually blame the Obama administration and elite Democratic surrogates from starting to apply more pressure to the Progressive Block in the House. From the bailout, to the housing bill, to the stimulus, to the climate change bill, Progressives have consistently proven more willing to fold than Blue Dogs and / or Conservadems. Given this, the White House is simply pressuring what recent history has shown to be the more easily pressured group when it needs to pass legislation. Past collapses have made the Progressive Block on health care less credible, and so pressuring Progs is the obvious play.
Well, we have to change this dynamic once and for all. It needs to be made clear that Blue Dogs / Conservadems are just as, if not more likely, to fold than Progressives. Otherwise, not only will be lose meaningful health care reform, but we will lose pretty much all legislative fights down the road.
So, it is up to us is making sure that the House Progressive Block turns out to be stronger than the Senate Conservadem Block. That is the only way we are going to win this, not with arguments about what the White House supports or does not support in the abstract. As such, get on the phone and thank as many of the members of the Progressive Block as you can for standing firm. Make sure that the easier play for the White House is to push Senate Conservadems to fold. That is the only way we are going to win this.