Pelosi Reps the Public Option; Obama Admits He Abandoned It
(Blog updated below @ 3:15 p.m. PST)
The White House released its own version of a health care bill this week that did not include the public option. When asked to explain that missing component, official word was that there wouldn't be enough votes for it so why include it?
Well, there's good news out of the presidential health care summit today. Nancy Pelosi who has gone back and forth time and time again over the public health insurance option has really repped it today. Addressing the President, Pelosi said:
"... you said the public option is one way to keep the insurance companies honest and to increase competition. If you have a better way, put it on the table.
Well, I bring that up because we have come such a long way....As a representative of the House of Representatives, I want you to know that we were there that day in support of a public option which would save $120 billion, keep the insurance companies honest, and increase competition. [This describes the Medicare-rates version of the public option, not in the House bill. The current weaker version saves $25 billion.]
We've come a long way to agreeing to a Republican idea, the exchanges...because the insurance companies opposed the public option. They couldn't take the competition.
We have in our bill [which includes a weaker public option], market-oriented, encouraging-to-the-private-sector initiatives. I think the insurance industry, left to it's own devices, has behaved shamefully. And we must act on behalf of the American people.
We have lived on their playing field all this time. It's time for the insurance companies to exist on the playing field of the American people."
Pelosi's remarks were followed by what may be Obama's first public admission of what many of us have been pointing out for some time now -- that he abandoned the public option he campaigned on... and not for lack of votes as has been the official mantra, but because the GOP can't swallow it, and he was striving for a bipartisan bill. He said:
"There were criticisms about the public option. That's when supposedly there was going to be a government takeover of health care. And even after the public option wasn't available, we still hear the same rhetoric...We have the concept of an exchange, which previously has been an idea that was embraced by Republicans before I embraced it. Now, suddenly, it became less of a good idea."
(h/t Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, otherwise known as BoldProgressives.org)UPDATED:
The PCCC just put out the following statement:
"President Obama gave Republicans one final chance, and the verdict is in: Bipartisanship is dead. It's clear that no Republicans will vote for health care reform. So Senate Democrats should pass the highly popular public option through reconciliation. Starting tomorrow, we will ramp up our pressure on Senate Democrats to do the will of the people -- and do what's best for America's health care system -- by passing the public option into law."
Well, let's hope!