White House Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer posted this on the White House blog tonight:
A rumor is making the rounds that the White House and Senator Reid are pursuing different strategies on the public option.
Those rumors are absolutely false. In his September 9th address to Congress, President Obama made clear that he supports the public option because it has the potential to play an essential role in holding insurance companies accountable through choice and competition. That continues to be the President's position.
Senator Reid and his leadership team are now working to get the most effective bill possible approved by the Senate. President Obama completely supports their efforts and has full confidence they will succeed and continue the unprecedented progress that is being made in both the House and Senate.
Some of the multiple-sourced news stories about the White House not lifting a finger to help Reid are below the fold.
But here's and under-reported quote: The president all-but-saying the Finance Committee bill would be acceptable -- from his speech to OFA last week on Wed, Oct. 21:
Among Democrats and progressives, there are a whole set of views about how we should do health care.
But understand that the bill that you least like in Congress right now. The one you least like, of the five that are out there, would provide 29 million Americans health care.
29 million Americans who don’t have it right now would get it. The bill you least like would prevent insurance companies from barring you from getting health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
Whatever the bill you least like would set up an exchange so that people right now who are having to try to bargain for health insurance on their own are suddenly part of a pool of millions that forces insurance companies to compete for their business and give them better deals and lower rates.
So there are going to be some disagreements and details to work out. But to the Democrats – I want to say to you Democrats – let’s make sure we keep our eye on the prize.
...Sometimes Democrats can be their own worst enemies. Democrats are an opinionated bunch. (laughter)
Yay bill we least like! Yay insurance for 29 million people -- by mandating they buy insurance from rip-off artists with no choice of a public option!
Here's what the White House needs to understand:
Expressing a preference for the public option is not the same as fighting for the public option. Telling Harry Reid "good luck with that" is not the same as the president saying, "I am there helping Reid fight for those final votes."
Americans clearly favor a strong bill over a bipartisan bill and are clamoring for President Obama to make good on the mandate for sweeping change that was given to him in the 2008 election. President Obama will be judged by many of his biggest 2008 supporters on whether he fights for a strong public option at this critical moment.
If you haven't yet signed the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's emergency petition to President Obama, you can do it here.
On Thursday night, Reid went over to the White House for a talk with the president. The conversation centered on Reid's desire to put Schumer's national opt-out plan into the base bill. White House officials were not necessarily pleased, and they made that known. Everyone agrees that they didn't embrace Reid's new strategy. Everyone agrees that the White House wants Snowe on the bill...
Multiple sources tell TPMDC that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is very close to rounding up 60 members in support of a public option with an opt out clause, and are continuing to push skeptical members. But they also say that the White House is pushing back against the idea, in a bid to retain the support of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).
After a weekend of furious activity on Capitol Hill, 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.
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.