Hill Aides: More senators would back Public Plan if Obama pushed harder

Joe and I have been arguing this for a while. Now Sam Stein at the Huffington Post has found Democratic Hill staffers confirming it. If the White House actually tried, we could have the public option. Let me repeat – the problem isn’t that we don’t have the votes, the problem is that the White House refuses to even try to get the votes. And if they did try, they could likely get them.

There is a growing sense on Capitol Hill that the White House’s refusal to weigh in more forcefully in the health care debate could come at the cost of a public option for insurance coverage.

Democratic aides said that a “handful” of senators who are skeptical of a public plan likely could be persuaded if not to support it then at least to oppose a Republican filibuster, if the administration were to apply a bit more pressure — or even guidance.
“There is a clear sense that it would be helpful,” said one senior Democratic aide. “Throughout this entire debate the White House line has been ‘We will weigh in when it is necessary’…. Well now we need 60 votes. So if it’s not necessary now, then when will it be?”

“I think folks in general in Congress were looking to the president to clearly define his feeling on the issue,” another aide said. “And I don’t think he has done that on the public option from the get-go… With a lot of senators nervous because of elections or other political dynamics, it would be helpful for the president to send a strong signal that this is what he wants in the final bill.”

Joe and I have lived in this town a long time. We’ve worked in politics just as long. The President’s “I care, but not that much” message about the public option is signaling that he doesn’t care about the public option at all. And the Hill is responding in kind. All we need to pass thing thing is for the president to lead. That’s how legislating works in this town. The President has enormous influence – enormous. And the fact that he’s still sitting out, the fact that Rahm again said on Sunday that it isn’t yet time for the President to get involved in health care reform, is simply bizarre.

The polls about the public option are on our side. Is the White House?


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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