Obama: How Long Will He Refuse To Fight?

by: AdamGreen

Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 23:29


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.

Silly rumors.

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.
AdamGreen :: Obama: How Long Will He Refuse To Fight?

More silly rumors...

From the Washington Post's Ezra Klein:

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...

More from TPM's Brian Beutler:

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).

More from The Hill:

"I've not been very happy with the White House's lukewarm support of the public option," [Sen. Tom Harkin] said.

More from The New Republic:

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.


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Adam - (4.00 / 4)
That is an absolutely wonderful ad that speaks directly to me. I've donated twice and tried to get everyone I know to do the same. It's up to 40K - I hope enough is raised to flood Maine's airwaves.

good TNR article (4.00 / 2)
Another one worth reading, with what appear to be his own sources.

But when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid briefed the president at the White House on Wednesday, Obama responded with a series of tough questions--not rejecting the idea, but not rushing to embrace it, either. When word of that meeting leaked out, public option supporters took Obama's reaction to mean that the administration continued to prefer the "trigger" compromise, under which a failure by private insurers to deliver affordable coverage would trigger the creation of a public plan.

Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, the lone Republican working with Democrats on health care, favors a trigger. And it's no secret that the administration has worked hard to keep her on board--either because Obama wants at least one Republican vote, because he believes losing her might mean losing some moderate Democrats, or some combination thereof.

Whatever his reasons--and it's possible only Obama himself knows--his reaction prompted complaints that generated headlines in the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo, among others. The administration responded by stating, clearly, it was not trying to undercut the Senate leadership. But it still did not go out of its way to support the opt-out--something the Senate leadership noticed, according to the senior staffer.



New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

Are we expecting too much from the President? (4.00 / 1)
I don't believe it is his nature to fight. Take his financial regulatory proposals that were carved up and pretty much rendered useless in House committees.  And all of this was greeted with silence to actual slight approval from the Administration.

We want him to be fight but I just don't think he is a fighter.

RebelCapitalist - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.


no - we're not expecting too much (4.00 / 3)
All we're asking is that he side with us instead of the crooked corporations and that he us all the power we gave him to do it.

[ Parent ]
Doing your job (4.00 / 5)
is not too much to ask. Regular people do it every day, I don't see why elites like Obama can't be expected to do the same.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
He fought pretty hard to get elected (4.00 / 1)

 Now that it's time to actually govern, of course, he's markedly less enthusiastic about fighting.

 

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
Close (0.00 / 0)
He fought a lot harder against Democrats than against McCain, IMO.  And in governing, he's fighting a lot harder against Democrats than against Republicans.  Same pattern.  That may make sense within the city of Chicago but not on a national level.

[ Parent ]
reid allowed to poll caucus, um? (4.00 / 4)
cohn's piece makes sense. obama is not psuhing po. letting reid poll his cacus or something. its clear, like harkin has said, wh isnt pushing po like we need. we could be 2 votes away from a po but im not seeing a push for it from wh which could kill it in the end.

TARP, otoh, was worth some Obama enthusiasm... (4.00 / 6)
The man can fight.  He apparently just doesn't think people and their health care are worth it.  His deal with pharma is probably why.  

[ Parent ]
2010 (4.00 / 5)
There's an article in Politico (which I think refers to a NYT story) that states some Dems are pushing for "key benefits" to be available sometime in 2010.

I think we would all agree that this would be a no-brainer...why not make the PO available on July 4th, or better yet Labor Day 2010. No only is this morally right, but I can't think of a better start to the official campaign season...talk about controlling the debate!


See for yourself (4.00 / 1)
Rep Debbie Halvorson (IL-11) put this 35-page pdf analysis of the bill on her website. You can do a search on 2010 and see just how many times it's in this version. I sent the page numbers to Ed Schultz, hoping he'll give it some exposure. Turns out it's 22 times on 7 pages of the 35.

[ Parent ]
Not good enough; Non-denial denial (4.00 / 3)
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.

Ok, so the WH and Reid have the same strategy of letting Reid poll his members and determine what course to pursue. See, same strategy. Both want the best PO possible. While the WH believes triggers are the best they can get through to final passage, Reid may believe opt outs are doable. Either way, both Reid and the WH want the best PO they think is possible. See again, same strategy. So all this WH spin is technically true.

However, this statement is absolutely non-responsive to the charges made by multiple sources in several publications that Obama and the WH "actively discouraging Senate Democrats" against opt outs. They want you to believe their denials mean this allegation is false, but they simply have not made that clear. Indeed, they deliberately avoided any statement whatsoever on what the WH has or has not been communicating to members on the PO topic.

This new WH statement changes nothing. The allegations are still out there, unaddressed and not denied.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


Walk-back from one Huff Post source (4.00 / 1)
From Sam Stein's report tonight on the WH statement:

Still, sources on the Hill and off remain skeptical. One Democratic aide quoted in the Huffington Post's report on Saturday night, restated (after Pfeiffer's blog entry was published) that the president and his team "want to continue to work" with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) on a public option that could be "triggered" into existence - leaving Reid to push the opt-out without the White House's cover.

"[The president] is not working against us- he just continues to be non-committal," the aide said. (emphasis added)

This is markedly different from Stein's previous report, which lead with "President Barack Obama is actively discouraging Senate Democrats in their effort to include a public insurance option with a state opt-out clause as part of health care reform." (emphasis added)

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


So that's a LITTLE better (4.00 / 5)

 But the fundamental question remains -- why does Obama always have to be pushed and prodded to act like a Democrat? Why does he CONSTANTLY revert to the right-wing position when left unattended for even a minute?

 The pattern with the Obama White House, on just about every issue, has been:

 1. Express support for the least progressive position.

 2. Endure an outcry from activists and supporters.

 3. Issue semi-denials claiming they didn't really mean it.

 4. Revert to the non-progressive position eventually, once the furor has died down.

 It's been this way on TARP, on gay rights, on Afghanistan, on torture, and now on health care, supposedly the "signature" issue of the administration.

 And it's frankly getting tiresome. If 60 million Americans had wanted John McCain's policies, they would have voted for John McCain.

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
He is fighting. (4.00 / 3)
Just, behind the scenes. And not for us.

Montani semper liberi

Typical $ocial Cla$$ problem. they don't fight (0.00 / 0)
cuz they're $o far from u$ peee-on$ that they really got no f'king clue what our exi$i$tence is about.

dukakis-clintonhealthcare-gore-kerry ... when they lost, they still had their fat paychecks and great benes.

if barack SELLS US OUT to be 'pragmatic' to fascists, he'll still be living large.

I wonder how many 'bipartisan' campaign workers he'll have next year?

rmm.

It is too full o' the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way


Was Bush a better leader than Obama? (4.00 / 6)

 Don't get me wrong -- George W. Bush was a loathsome person and horrible president who did an enormous amount of damage to the country. I'm not defending his policies in any way. And from a strictly policy perspective, Obama is a vast improvement over Bush.

 But Bush wanted his Iraq war, and no one was going to stop him. He didn't send his chief-of-staff out to castigate right-wing activists for being unrealistic about getting their war on. He didn't dither and hem and haw over getting one or two Democratic votes for his war. Every statement and every action from the White House advanced his agenda, unequivocally. He didn't signal that he might be open to diplomacy or any sort of non-military approach to Iraq. He just did it.

 Why? Because Bush REALLY WANTED his Iraq war.

 Barack Obama's not acting like he really wants a public option, or any real health-care reform, really.

 He'll pay for it next year. Bigtime.

 

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


It's not a matter of leadership. (0.00 / 0)
It's a matter of strategy or style.  Bush was reckless and impulsive but, yes, was determined to get what he wanted and his people knew how to do it.  They didn't care or worry about exposing their moderates as long as they had their base behind them that is all that mattered to them.

Obama Administrations strategies or style is much different.  It has respect, maybe too much respect, for the legislative process.  And it is incredibly worried about its moderates in the party - it seems to the detriment of its base.

RebelCapitalist - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.


[ Parent ]
I never believed there was a mandate (0.00 / 0)
even though the numbers were staggering, I don't not believe there was a mandate.  instead, there was a massive outcry against Bush.  I believe anyone on the democratic side could have won this election and won big.  People came out to vote against Bush (including huge numbers of Republicans).  I guarantee you, the numbers will not be same next go around.  especially with Iraq, Afghanistan, Public Option, Cap & Trade, and of course the big one on everyones mind...Unemployment. The outcome of these legislative agendas will determine who is President in 2012.

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