Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Public Must Do Rahm Emmaneul's Job on Health Care Reform

One of the options that many people have considering in the Senate recently is that you might be able 60 votes for cloture on a bill that includes the public option, but some of the more conservative Democrats like Sen. Nelson might then decide to vote against the actual bill. This might take some work, but many high ranking members of the Senate believe that it's doable. Nonetheless, it appears as though Rahm Emmanuel has continued the White House's tradition of weakening their rhetoric in support of the public option. As the Hill points out, right as momentum as been gaining for this potential option Emmanuel has said that he doesn't believe that a public option will be able to pass in the Senate.
Emanuel professed pessimism that healthcare reform would include a strict public (or "government-run") option, though he signaled an expectation that House liberals may still push for the prized reform.

"I think Senate's been clear about the prospect there is," Emanuel told PBS's Charlie Rose when asked if healthcare can pass with the public option. "That doesn't mean in the House they're not going to come to the table and demand it."
Now Emmanuel did go on to say that the public option might be able to find it's way into the bill worked out in conference between the House and the Senate, so he's not completely ruling out the public option. Since the administration has a history of backtracking when progressives call them out on moves like this, I'm sure this is what the administration will be pointing towards when Obama's base raise concern about the comments.

What most people who are following the discussion have realized, however, is that these comments likely mean Emmanuel and others at the White House aren't going to be pushing terribly hard for a strong public option. When you combine this with the fact that Administration officials have been trying to push Olympia Snowe's trigger plan, many pro-reform advocates are concerned about where exactly the White House stands on the issue.

In the end, this really means that citizens must take action themselves and let their Senators know that we must have a strong public option if we want true reform. While you're on the phone with the office of Members who might be on the fence, let them know that we absolutely must at least have their support for cloture. To get in touch with your Senators' offices, you can call the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and simply asked to be connected. For those of you in Virginia, these phone calls could prove to be extremely important as Warner and Webb are paying attention to what their constituents are saying on the topic.

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