Is The President Jumping On The Public Option Revival Bandwagon?February 19, 2010 - by Eric Naing
The liberal push to resurrect the public option may have gotten a very big boost.
I’ve been fairly dismissive of a letter supporting the use of the reconciliation process to push a separate public option bill through the Senate, but now the White House may have just joined the cause.
Open Left highlights an interview between Rachel Maddow and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in which Sebelius implies that President Obama will support the public option effort if “Senate leadership” (i.e. Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV]) will allow it:
Maddow: “The private insurance company writ large hasn’t done a great job. That’s why we want a public option to compete with them. These 18 Democratic senators want to bring that back into the fold. If that happened, would the administration fight for it?”
Sebelius: “Well, I think if it’s…Certainly. If it’s part of the decision of the Senate leadership to move forward, absolutely.”
As I said before, this public option letter isn’t likely to have much impact unless the White House and Senate leadership get behind it. Since yesterday, Sen. Chuck Schumer [D, NY], the number three Democrat in the Senate, has signed on and now Obama might be next.
It will be interesting to see if the White House will walk back Sebelius’s statement. The president has gone to great efforts to restart health care negotiations in as bipartisan a manner as possible and signing onto the number one liberal priority in the debate would not help. Of course, Reid might just end up being the fall guy by holding back the public option and taking the brunt of the liberal backlash.