Free Markets, Free People


House Progressive Caucus to Obama: No Public-Option, No Support

The battle lines are being drawn prior to the speech President Obama will deliver to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday. One group which has now put itself on record with an either/or demand is the House Progressive Caucus. In a letter delivered last night to Obama, the Caucus said:

Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, a public option built on the Medicare provider system and with reimbursement based on Medicare rates-not negotiated rates-is unacceptable. A plan with negotiated rates would ensure higher costs for the public plan, and would do nothing to achieve the goal of providing choice and competition to keep rates down. The public plan with set rates saves $75 billion, which could be lost if rates are negotiated with providers. Further, this public option must be available immediately and must not be contingent upon any trigger.

The Progressive (they don’t like the word “liberal” anymore) Caucus, as I recall, has about 77 members. The lack of a public option, however, could cost Democrats upward of 100 votes and coupled with Republican votes against – not to mention Blue Dogs – would doom the bill in the House.

So what the Progressive Caucus is doing is drawing a line in the sand over which they claim they will not budge. In actuality they’ve put President Obama in what most would consider a no-win situation.

Of course word has it that a pubic option is very unlikely in the Senate version of a bill and if it is forced into a bill it will cost all Republican Senate support (even the usual 3 that go along with the Dems) and most likely a few Democratic Senators (Landreau, for instance, who has stated publicly that she won’t vote for a bill with a public option) . That would put them well below the 60 needed to end debate. It would also leave them with only the reconciliation process which needs a simple majority to pass a bill, with which to turn. And that is fraught with all sorts of dangers for the Democrats as the process allows parliamentary objections at almost every step and allows non-budgetary items (reconciliation is a budgetary process) to be stripped from the bill.

This has left the White House with few options. But one is an appeal to party loyalty and loyalty to President Obama as well as a smidgen of “post-racial” politics:

White House advisers will likely insist that liberals mustn’t deny the president a historic victory and enable a defeat that could cripple the first African-American presidency.

And cripple it we must – bad ideas are bad ideas, regardless of the race or party of those pushing them. This health care insurance reform scheme is the penultimate bad idea – along with cap-and-trade, TARP, the unstimulative “stimulus” bill, the omnipork spending bill, the take over of GM and Chrysler, the bailout of the (selected) financial institutions and the projected 9 trillion in deficits. I wouldn’t care if the the president were purple, I’d want anyone pushing those sorts of ideas politically “crippled”. I’d figure that since the president and Congress had already managed to hobble the nation, hobbling their ability to do more damage is the only good idea to come along is quite some time.

Of course I’d also most likely be labeled a racist and obstructionist by them if I actually said such a thing, wouldn’t I?

~McQ

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10 Responses to House Progressive Caucus to Obama: No Public-Option, No Support

  • If they stick with this, it will be contrary to their usual incrementalist strategy. Normally, they demand the moon, the sun, and the stars, and then content themselves with just the moon and a few asteroids, expecting to get more of the rest the next time.

    They may feel that the overall socialized medicine goal can’t be subdivided past the public option, and so the time to push it over the finish line is now. This concurs with Obama’s “last chance for a generation” comments a while back. In this case, they realize it’s risky, but feel they have no other choice than to go nuclear. Any face-saving, tinker around the edges compromise might very well kill the notion of healthcare reform past when most of them are out of office.

    Or maybe they’re just out of touch with the events of the summer, and don’t think the obstacles are that great. Or maybe they simply think Obama owes them and are calling in the check.

    No matter which it is, if the opposition to the public option is as strong as it looks, this could be the final deal killer. Let us hope.

  • I wouldn’t care if the the president were purple, I’d want anyone pushing those sorts of ideas politically “crippled”.

    Is that like code for homosexual? Because you know there’s nothing you and say that can’t be construed as offensive.

  • So the progressives are threatening to kill health care reform?

    “Please don’t throw me in that briar patch Brer Fox!”

  • Go ahead … make my day

  • White House advisers will likely insist that liberals mustn’t deny the president a historic victory and enable a defeat that could cripple the first African-American presidency.

    This is both pathetic and offensive. So, people are supposed to give The Annointed One whatever he wants just because he’s the first black president???

    It can also be construed as a slam on TAO and a pretty blatant example of the soft racism of low expectations: “C’mon! We all know he’s an incompetent boob, but we’ve got to give him things because he’s black and therefore can’t be expected to be competent and do things on his own!”

  • “This health care insurance reform scheme is the penultimate bad idea…”

    It’s the next-to-last bad idea?

  • This that the crap is DEAD. It was dead before, it has been dead, and August has only confirmed how dead it is.

    It is dead. Anyone who comes on television or writes for the media and says that there is still a good chance of passing something, they need to be called delusional once and for all.

    • I’m not sure about that. You may underestimate the gullibility of certain Republicans to allow Obama to get his “bipartisan compromise”. I don’t think the whole public option thing is going to fly, but some grab bag of things might.

      That said, I certainly hope you are right. Given the last ten years, I just don’t want to underestimate the capability of the Republicans to talk themselves into doing the wrong thing.

  • The bit about any public option having to mimic Medicare’s reimbursement model is telling. One of the biggest drivers of health care inflation is providers “amortizing” the costs the government won’t pay for Medicare patients on the private market. It almost seems as if they know this and want to further burden private markets.

    Nah, couldn’t be.