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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:

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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.

Public Option Dying In Senate, Just As New Poll Reveals 60% Of Americans Want It

by on Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 6:31 pm EDT in Healthcare, Politics

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has yet to come up with the 60-required votes to pass ANY variation of a public option.  The key obstructionists remain as dug in as ever, and any who’ve hinted at compromise are adamant that any public option be so watered down, as to lose any effectiveness:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is unyieldingly opposed to any kind of public option. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) says time and again she won’t support a “government-run, government-funded” insurance program. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) says there is room for compromise, maybe on a public option that states could opt into.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) will only consider a public option that serves as an optional fallback if private insurance reforms fail, an idea that Lincoln and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) say has appeal. Liberals adamantly oppose a fallback/trigger public option.

Now Reid is attempting to garner support for, yet a new watered down version of a public option, called “The Hammer,” devised by Senator Tom Carper.  This one is sort of a hybrid between the public option already in the current bill and the trigger option that Olympia Snowe prefers.  The Hammer acts as a state-by-state trigger, where a public option would kick in immediately — as opposed to taking a year to kick in as the trigger option stipulated — for states where insurance companies have failed to meet certain standards on plan availability and affordability.  The bill would establish a national public insurance program but have a non-governmental board run it.  Outside of its initial seed money, it would have no access to taxpayer dollars.

Though there’s little detailed information out yet on this proposal, from the surface it looks better than the trigger option.  But make no mistake about it, Republicans are going to feign outrage — declare it’s still  a government takeover — to ensure those like Olympia Snow can’t claim they were able to remain true to their principles [whatever they are] and still support this legislation.

I just don’t see the politicians in the pockets of the health insurance industry agreeing to anything that resembles a public option at this point.  Meanwhile, here are the findings of a new Thomson Reuters poll:

  • Believe in public option: 59.9 percent yes, 40.1 percent no.
  • 86 percent of Democrats support the public option versus 57 percent of Independents and 33 percent of Republicans.
  • Quality of healthcare will be better 12 months from now: 35 percent strongly disagree. 11.6 percent strongly agree. 29.9 percent put themselves in the middle.
  • Believe the amount of money spent on healthcare will be less 12 months from now: 52 percent strongly disagree, 13 percent strongly agree.
  • 23 percent believe it will be easier for people to receive the care they need a year from now.

The survey shows that a MAJOR MAJORITY of Americans are in favor of a public option, but have absolutely NO CONFIDENCE in their elected representatives to actually pass anything that makes health care more affordable, more accessible, or that improves its quality.

President Obama and the Democratic majorities in both houses would be wise to pay close attention to what Americans are telling them, here.  If you believed for a second that you could pass some watered down farcical excuse for a health care bill and try to sell it as “real health care reform” the public is already a step ahead of you on that.  Americans have so little confidence that you’ll do the right thing, they’re anticipating there will be no real reform.

Senator Reid, if The Hammer initiative fails I’d say it’s about time to reconsider reconciliation …


Please sign MoveOn’s new petition, found HERE.  It reads:

“Senator Reid, don’t let a few senators derail what the majority of Americans want and need. We’re counting on you to use every tool at your disposal to make sure the Senate bill includes a public option.”