Bowing to Republican pressure and an uneasy public, President Barack Obama's administration signaled Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.Fortunately, the guy that lost the presidential election because he once elevated his voice to that of a human being is not letting Obama waffle out of this:
Facing mounting opposition to the overhaul, administration officials left open the chance for a compromise with Republicans that would include health insurance cooperatives instead of a government-run plan. Such a concession probably would enrage Obama's liberal supporters but could deliver a much-needed victory on a top domestic priority opposed by GOP lawmakers.
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A day before, Obama appeared to hedge his bets.
"All I'm saying is, though, that the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform," Obama said at a town hall meeting in Grand Junction, Colo. "This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it."
It's hardly the same rhetoric Obama employed during a constant, personal campaign for legislation.
"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," Obama said in July.
Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, a leading figure in the liberal wing of his party, said Monday he doubts there can be meaningful health care reform without a direct government role.Others are joining in:
Dean urged the Obama administration to stand by statements made early on in the debate in which it steadfastly insisted that such a public option was indispensable to genuine change, saying that Medicare and the Veterans Administration are "two very good programs that have been around for a long time."
Dean appeared on morning news shows Monday amid increasing indications the Obama White House is retreating from the public option in the face of vocal opposition from Republicans and some vocal participants at a town-hall-style meetings around the country.
The White House insisted there had been no shift in position, adding the president still favors a federal option for the sale of health insurance. "The bottom line is this: Nothing has changed," said a memo containing suggested answers for administration allies to use if asked about the issue.I'm not sure any of this matters, though. Obama thinks he can be successful on health care reform if he sits back and let the chips fall where they may. At least Clinton had a plan when he failed. Obama is going to lose due to indecision and incompetence. That, and good old fashioned American ignorance.
But some supporters of health care overhaul sounded less than reassured.
"You really can't do health reform" without allowing the government to compete with private insurers, said Howard Dean, a former Democratic Party chairman. "Let's not say we're doing health reform without a public option," he added in a slap at the administration's latest move.
His remarks were echoed by lawmakers as well as AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, who said the option was the only way to force "real competition" on the insurance industry.
I happened to be in the same room as a television playing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire last night. Ellen Gaines from Dunnsville, Virginia (heart of the Confederacy), was asked this $1,000 question - "In a New York Times Election Day crossword puzzle, which of these answers had the clue “Blue State” and not “Red State”?" Her choices were Melancholy, Communism, Outrage, and Insolvency.
She chose communism.