AlterPolitics New Post

Obama’s Biggest Broken Promise: The One On Special Interests

by on Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 1:28 pm EDT in Healthcare, Politics

Barack Obama told the Washington Post that he never campaigned on the public option.  I recently provided resounding proof — as aggregated by Think Progress — and also included a new scathing ad being run by The Progressive Change Campaign Committee SHOWING Obama telling his supporters that he would only sign a plan that contained a public option.

Obama had in fact made the public option a major part of his health care reform promise during his campaign.  Anyone who supported him knows this, and so his lying about it is only going to polarize him even further from his base — or should I say, whatever remains of it.

Chris Matthews, last night, feebly attempted to spin Obama’s Washington Post lie, when dueling with Joan Walsh of Salon.  Matthews tried to make a distinction between Obama’s having promised he would provide a public option, and his having ‘campaigned’ on a public option — which is what Obama was quoted as having told the Post:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

All that inner-beltway selective-nuance crap feels a bit like ‘grabbing at straws’ to me.  You can slice and dice it all you’d like Chris, but Obama ran on it.  Again, check HERE for the proof (and keep in mind ALL this information was available online at least 10 hours before Hardball aired last night).

Leave it to Uber-Blogger, Digby, to masterfully capture the real essence of Obama-supporter angst:

There is a lot of back and forth about what Obama promised about a public option and what he didn’t. The PCCC is running ads today pointing out that just a few months ago he promised that he wouldn’t sign a bill that didn’t have one. Whether or not what he called a “public plan” during the presidential campaign is up for grabs.

But when I went back and looked at Obama’s speeches during the campaign to get an idea of how he talked about it and health care in general, I was struck by something else: how much his rhetoric revolved around changing the culture of special interest dominated Washington. In fact, virtually all of his domestic program was wrapped in that promise:

This election is about them. It’s about you. It’s about every one of the 47 million Americans in Virginia, in Tennessee and across this country, who are going without the health care they need and the millions more who are struggling to pay rising costs.

But let’s be honest – we’ve been talking about this for a long time. Year after year, election after election, candidates make promises about fixing health care and cutting costs. And then they go back to Washington, and nothing changes – because the big drug and insurance companies write another check or because lobbyists use their clout to block reform. And when the next election rolls around, even more Americans are uninsured, and even more families are struggling to pay their medical bills.

If Obama had come out of the gate last January, forcefully projecting his campaign imperatives upon both Democratically controlled houses — after all, we ushered him in with a clear, indisputable mandate — and he came back with this lousy, crappy health insurance giveaway, the Left would have been just as grief-stricken, but likely would have given the President the benefit of the doubt.

The thing is, anyone who watched knows with certainty, that with Obama’s popularity at the time, with control of both houses, with this being his single-biggest policy initiative, and with reconciliation at his disposal, he had everything he needed to run roughshod over the Republicans and Blue Dogs, and could have delivered nearly everything he promised us.  We made the mistake of believing he was working for us — the people.  That’s what this fury on the Left is all about.

Obama’s biggest campaign promise, as Digby reminded us all, was that he would not be beholden to special interest groups — the ones who always manage to thwart all efforts of meaningful reform (as Obama eloquently described above).  And, yet, before the health care initiative was even launched, Obama essentially smothered ‘Change’ in its crib, by doing EXACTLY what he said he wouldn’t — he struck backdoor deals with the entrenched interest groups.

And the President now pretends that he fought hard — though we all saw he didn’t.  In fact, not only was he MIA — refusing to outline any priorities for a health care reform bill — his own White House was undermining his campaign promises at every turn, insisting they weren’t essential for Obama’s signature.  He now pretends the opposition was just too fierce, too dug in — though we’ve heard from the Senators themselves that he never once pressured anyone on the public option.  And, of course, he clearly didn’t want Reid using reconciliation.

Obama wanted the bill he got — the one cooked up by the entrenched interests in his back door deal.  By not using reconciliation, he believed the Blue Dogs would give him the cover he needed to emerge from this industry giveaway unscathed.

And now Obama appears frustrated; frustrated that the Left won’t give him HIS due victory, and applaud him for this bill — this trillion dollar wealth redistribution from the middle class to special interests.  He clearly believed the Left would allow him to white-wash this bill as ‘meaningful reform,’ but no one is buying.  Obama’s brand is now the embodiment of everything the public detests about Washington.

In the past — before the net roots — this kind of corporate capitulation routinely flied like a stealth aircraft over the electorate.  Bill Clinton could have pulled it off in the 90s — in fact, he did.

Mr. President,

WAKE UP!  We’re not in the 90s anymore.