Monday, December 21, 2009

Russ Feingold Blames White House for Loss of Public Plan

In a statement offering "support" for the Senate healthare bill, Russ Feingold criticizes the White House for failing to support the public plan option:
Sunday, December 20, 2009

I’ve been fighting all year for a strong public option to compete with the insurance industry and bring health care spending down. I continued that fight during recent negotiations, and I refused to sign onto a deal to drop the public option from the Senate bill. Unfortunately, the lack of support from the administration made keeping the public option in the bill an uphill struggle. Removing the public option from the Senate bill is the wrong move, and eliminates $25 billion in savings. I will be urging members of the House and Senate who draft the final bill to make sure this essential provision is included.

But while the loss of the public option is a bitter pill to swallow, on balance, the bill still delivers meaningful reform, and the cost of inaction is simply too high. This bill significantly expands coverage and helps protect Wisconsinites from high costs and insurance company abuses, such as denying or restricting coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The bill also improves a flawed Medicare formula that denies Wisconsin fair reimbursement rates, encourages the kind of low-cost, high-value care practiced in our state, increases access to home and community-based long-term care, and reduces federal budget deficits by $132 billion over the next decade.
See also:

Criticizing President Obama Is Pragmatic

Rahm Emanuel Tells Liberals To Kiss His Arse

Liberals Battle White House Over Healthcare Reform

White House Shows Its True Colors on Healthcare Reform

Irrational Robert Gibbs Says Howard Dean Is Irrational

Salon's Glenn Greenwald Says: Blame Obama, Rather Than Lieberman

Why Is Obama Still Protecting Lieberman?

4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Yeah, Darren, Feingold has the guts to say what most of us know, but some are too reluctant to admit. Obama's been dangling the public option in front of our noses to keep the left and the public (which still favors PO to the tune of 66%) on board with "his" reform plan, but all along kept placating the cartel with sweet deals while also telling us not to get too attached to the PO idea. Well, he was honest, in that slick, non-committal way that allowed us -- some of us, at least -- to read between the lines as to what his real plan was.

And whenever the left got restless, demanding a firmer promise from him, he would send his goons (i.e., Rahmbo, Valerie Jarrett, Axelrod) to put the muzzle back on, or admonished us not to get too uptight about that little "sliver" of the reform.

Boy, oh boy. Can't say I am surprised by this development, but, darn it, I still feel duped. Go figure. Perhaps because so much is at stake and we have come so close (or have been led to believe that we have come so close).

One thing I seriously do not understand from the more or less enthusiastic supporters of this bill is how they envision that the strenghtening of the insurance cartel -- because that's what it is, despite the flowery rhetoric -- would somehow lead to more substantial and real health care reform in the future. The goal of this reform, one of them at least, was to weaken the cartel's grip on our lives. What we have achieved, in the Senate bill as is and as I understand it, is something quite the contrary. What gives?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Elizabeth: Yesterday, Lieberman said that no one in the White House pressured him on the public option. So that pretty much sums it up. Although Gibbs claimed that the WH pressured moderates (see my earlier post on this), no one with good sense believed him. Now, Lieberman himself has confessed what we all suspected: the WH never pushed Senators to support the public option -- because the WH never supported the public option. Remember when those two labor unions dropped out of healthcare talks before they really began -- saying they didn't believe the public option would survive? They were right.

Infidel753 said...

While Obama can rightly be criticized for putting pressure on liberals to compromise with obstructionists instead of the other way round, let's not forget the real reason for the problem -- the Senate's undemocratic filibuster rules which require a de facto 60-vote majority.

The House passed a bill with a public option, because it operates by simple majority. If the Senate worked the same way, Lieberman and the blue dogs would have been irrelevant and the Senate would have been able to pass a bill like the House one.

Tom Harkin was talking about pushing for a rule change to eliminate the 60-vote requirement. Any anger which is felt over the loss of the public option needs to be directed into supporting that. If the rules aren't changed, 40 Republicans plus one troublemaker will be able to inflict this kind of obstructionism on every major piece of legislation from now on.

Getting angry at the majority of Senate Democrats who wanted the same thing we did (as some seem to be doing) is stupid. Get angry at the rules that prevented them from getting it.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Great point, Infidel. But working within those constraints, I think it is becoming very clear where the WH drew the line in the sand. After Obama returned from Martha's Vineyard and made his healthcare speech, he demanded a public option -- but literally, the next day was saying it wasn't essential. He has always indicated to moderates that they don't have to support it.

A friend made another point to me, which I think is worth considering. The Senate process seems a lot less organized than the House process. He believes that Pelosi is a better leader of the Democrats than Reid. Several Democratic Senators publicly threatened to block the deal, while the House Democrats were more constrained on an individual level. Is Reid just a bad leader?

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