White House Never Serious About Public Option
by Deacon Blues
As a follow-up to my piece from last night about a clueless, policy-empty, deal-for-the-sake-of-a-deal White House, I give you this bit of confirmation:
President Obama's advisers acknowledged Tuesday that they were unprepared for the intraparty rift that occurred over the fate of a proposed public health insurance program, a firestorm that has left the White House searching for a way to reclaim the initiative on the president's top legislative priority.
"I don't understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo," said a senior White House adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We've gotten to this point where health care on the left is determined by the breadth of the public option. I don't understand how that has become the measure of whether what we achieve is health-care reform."
"It's a mystifying thing," he added. "We're forgetting why we are in this."
No, those of us who know a great deal about health care reform have known for years why we are in this: to get as many people covered at the lowest possible cost. And the only way to do that is make sure the industries that got us into this mess have true competition. Passing an individual mandate without a public option is simply one of the largest pieces of corporate welfare in the history of this country. And yet this White House is mystified that knowledgeable people, the “left of the left” to them, are insisting that consumers be given a true choice and that insurance companies are not left to run free once again, driving up costs as they see fit, but this time with a requirement that Americans pay the price.
This White House ascribes such policy goals to the crazies on the left of the party. Not only does this cluelessness confirm what I said last night, but it shows you the disdain they have for those who don’t share their deal-for-the-sake-of-a-deal mentality. Yet somehow this White House thinks the public option can be tossed away without consequence. I guess they don't read polls after all.
On top of that, they want to chalk up their problems in pursuing a bipartisanship that was never there to the crazies on the left who insist on effective policy outcomes, not on their own naïve approach to power. It’s easier to blame the “left of the left” for your problems when you never attempted to master the language of selling this, and didn't seem to fully mobilize your own OFA forces to sell this in 2009.
Mr. President, if you weren’t serious about good health care reform policy, weren’t serious about assembling a campaign to sell it, and weren’t serious about communicating it effectively, then your problems weren’t with us inside the party. Your problems are staring back at you in the mirror. You should have waited until 2010 and then used this against the GOP leading up to the midterms like they used the war against us in 2002, giving you time to do this the right way for the right reasons. But no, it’s easier for an allegedly Democratic president to blame this on the liberals.
Please Mr. President, spare us the feigned surprise. You blew this one and need to own up to it. You were never serious about the public option, and still to this day don't know why it is essential to real reform. Yet this story shows that you and your team were simply stringing along the left and serious policy people with your alleged support for it until such time as you clumsily needed to toss it aside to get more imaginary Republican support. Not only is this a sad commentary on how you treat your base, but it shows an utter ignorance about negotiation and sizing up your opponents.
And you have no one but yourself to blame.