Gibbs on public option: ‘There isn’t enough political support in a majority to get this through’




So, the public option is extremely popular among the American people. There is political support across the country for including it in health care reform. But, the White House press secretary said the votes aren’t there:

The White House made it official on Tuesday: the president doesn’t think the votes are there to get a public option passed through reconciliation and consequently won’t make a push to include or pass the provision.

Speaking at the daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked again why the administration did not include the government-run insurance option in its final health care proposal in light of the fact that 23 Democratic senators signed a letter calling for its passage.

“We have seen obviously that though there are some that are supportive of this, there isn’t enough political support in a majority to get this through,” Gibbs responded. “The president… took the Senate bill as the base and looks forward to discussing consensus ideas on Thursday.”

The leader of the free world can’t wrangle up 50 votes in the Senate for a provision that polls much better than the President’s own health care plan? Doesn’t anyone at the White House know how to corral votes on the Hill? Wasn’t that supposed to be Rahm’s specialty?

If the White House wanted a public option, we could have one. And, Adam Green is right:

The White House obviously has a loser mentality — but America rallies around winners. Polls show that in state after state, voters hate the Senate bill and overwhelmingly want a public option, even if passed with zero Republican votes. More than 50 Senate Democrats and 218 House Democrats were willing to vote for the public option before, and the only way to lose in reconciliation is if losers are leading the fight. That’s why Democrats in Congress should ignore the White House and follow those like Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez who know that the public option is a political and policy winner.

Ezra Klein is right too:

One other point on the public option: This has been a complete and utter failure of White House leadership. They need to give this effort their support, or they need to kill it by publicly stating their opposition. But they can’t simply wait for someone else to make the decision for them, which has been their strategy until now.

If the White House decides that reviving the public option is a good idea, there’s reason to believe the Senate would follow them on that. It would make some sense, after all: The public option is popular, its death was partly the product of industry pressure, and the sudden spate of high-profile rate increases offers a nice rhetorical pivot for anyone who wants to argue that individuals should be able to choose an insurer who’s not a profit-hungry beast. Plus, Democrats need an excited base going into the 2010 election, and this may be the only way to get it.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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