Monday, October 26, 2009

Where Is Obama's Leadership On The Public Option?

Is President Obama providing the leadership we need to pass a government-run public option for health care? Not according to Democratic and administration sources:

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. In its place, say multiple Democratic sources, Obama has indicated a preference for an alternative policy, favored by the insurance industry, which would see a public plan "triggered" into effect in the future by a failure of the industry to meet certain benchmarks.

...Administration officials say that Obama's preference for the trigger, which is backed by Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, is founded in a fear that Reid's public option couldn't get the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. More specifically, aides fear that a handful of conservative Democrats will not support a bill unless it has at least one Republican member's support.

Without the President's support, the failure to pass a public option may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have complained about the President's tepid leadership on the issue:

“I’ve not been very happy with the White House’s lukewarm support of the public option,” [Harkin] said, articulating a gripe liberals have been making for months.

“I would hope the president would speak out more forcefully in favor of the public option,” Brown said, adding “I expect he will.”

The Progressive Campaign Committee has taken out an ad in Maine, Senator Snowe's state, calling on Obama to step up to the plate on an issue critical to meaningful health care reform:

To sign a petition calling on President Obama to fight for the public option, click here.

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