Monday, August 17, 2009

Obama Blinks in Health Care Reform Standoff, May Drop "Public Option"

It looks like President Obama may be caving in the the wing nuts on health care reform. After weeks of pushing the public option plank of his health care reform platform, Obama's mouthpieces were all over the tube on Sunday suggesting that government run health insurance for the uninsured was never the centerpiece of the president's reform package.

In town hall meetings across the country in recent weeks, congressional democrats have been trying to muster support for the administration's public option plan. The events have turned ugly when speakers were shouted down by wing-nuts who have never had a thought in their heads that wasn't put there by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and the folks at Fox "News".

The New York Times reports in Monday's edition:

"In an interview on Sunday, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, said the president remained convinced that a public plan was “the best way to go.” But Mr. Axelrod said the nuances of how to develop a nonprofit competitor to private industry had never been “carved in stone.”

On Capitol Hill, the Senate Finance Committee is expected to produce a bill that features a nonprofit co-op. The author of the idea, Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota and chairman of the Budget Committee, predicted Sunday that Mr. Obama would have no choice but to drop the public option.

“The fact of the matter is, there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option,” Mr. Conrad said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There never have been. So to continue to chase that rabbit, I think, is just a wasted effort.”

The co-op, modeled after rural electric and agricultural cooperatives in Mr. Conrad’s home state, would offer insurance through a nonprofit, nongovernmental consumer entity run by its members. Mr. Axelrod said one downside of a co-op, from Mr. Obama’s point of view, was that it might be unable to “scale up in such a way that would create a robust” competitor to private insurers."
In the months following the president's inauguration, it looked like Obama could get anything he wanted from the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. Looks like the honeymoon is over.

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