Friday, October 23, 2009

Barack Obama, Yeah, awesome, health ca. fxdkdfjda....... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 

From TPM (which is not leftwing and has supported Obama to a fault):

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).

"They're skeptical of opt out and are generally deferential to the Snowe strategy that involves the trigger," said one source close to negotiations between the Senate and the White House. "they're certainly not calming moderate's concerns on opt out."

This new development, which casts the White House as an opponent of all but the most watered down form of public option, is likely to yield backlash from progressives, especially those in the House who have been pushing for a more maximal version of reform.

It also suggests for perhaps the first time that the White House's supposed hands off approach that ostensibly allowed the two chambers in Congress to craft their own bill has been discarded.

High level White House officials have floated the trigger idea a number of times, and it seems they continue to do so, even at this, crucial stage of the health care reform process, when their involvement is greatest. That has senators who support the public option concerned.

"Historically, 'trigger' mechanisms have not been successful, and they are not a substitute for a strong public health insurance option," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) in a curiously timed statement. "A 'trigger' simply delays price competition, which in turn will delay affordability for consumers and moves us farther away from the goals of health care reform. Already, we are seeing insurance companies threatening to game the system, by raising their prices in advance of reform. The only way to curb price-gouging by health insurance companies is with real competition on day one--that is the public option."

Update: there were a million leaks today, each one saying the opposite of the previous one. The TPM story mentioned above was a leak that deliberately contradicted previous leaks saying the White House and Senate were on the verge of agreeing on the opt-out public option. After the TPM story saying that the White House was against the public option, other leaks insisted that the TPM story wasn't true. I'm not sure what this means, but it would seem consistent with the strategies discussed in previous posts.

One thing is certain: the blizzard of contradictory leaks is intentional and is a basic part of whatever Obama is trying to accomplish.


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