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Ear to the Ground

Obama Feels Liberal Backlash on Public Option

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Posted on Aug 17, 2009
Joe Biden and Barack Obama
White House / Pete Souza

We keep hearing that the president can’t get his health care reform without the support of conservative Democrats in the Senate, but he also can’t pass anything without progressives in the House, who are none too happy with the administration’s hints that a public option could be dead.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, drew a line in the sand: “Our position has not, and will not, change. ... I will not support any bill that does not include a public option.”

Rep. Barbara Lee said, “The Congressional Black Caucus remains committed to ensuring that health reform is meaningful, and that means making sure that a public option is part of the package.”

The White House is still spinning, though, as of Monday, to the left. Linda Douglass, director of communications for the Office of Health Reform, said in a statement: “The president has always said that what is essential is that health insurance reform must lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans, and it must increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. ... He believes the public option is the best way to achieve those goals.”  —PS

Read AP on the liberal backlash
Read CNN on the White House response

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By samosamo, August 18, 2009 at 12:23 am Link to this comment

By KDelphi, August 18 at 12:35 am
““By KDelphi, August 18 at 12:35 am
You know you are beginning to sound off as a conservative operative because I DON’T THINK OBAMA and the current congress are about to help the common good, as matter of fact CSMFer I don’ think any good will come from obama’s current obfuscation as I consider him a traitor to the republic from all his ACTIONS as of now.

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By KDelphi, August 17, 2009 at 11:06 pm Link to this comment

ChaoticGood—I agree, but, if they only had the GOP to worry about, they wouldnt have any problems…

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By pecosfarmer, August 17, 2009 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well at this point I have to tip my hat to another successful PR campaign brought to us by the GOP. This one looks alot like the one which so graciously gave us the patriot act, the Iraq war, and the 2000 Florida supreme court decision. Kudos, “mark my words, we will win Florida, you can write it down”. Now we once again have a mainstream media on steroids, touting the loss of a public option, how nice is that, one for the knuckleheads zero for the people.
“Reform”, I get it, that means reforming the insurance companies bank accounts with 50,000,000 new law abiding mandated citizens. A large portion of which are healthy. Those of course we’ll profile as the ching-ching bunch, we can all get ching-ching tees (made by Hanes in the Honduras of course). To coin our favorite White House opener: “Let me make this absolutely clear”: along with the loss of your public option you’ve just lost your base, the 2010 congressional majority, and the 2012 presidential election all in one shot big guy. Now we’re the silent majority, the poor man must feel like Nixon about now!
Speaking only for myself, I will say this much, I will not be forced into taking part in a for-profit private system. Now this may sound a little redneck
but you can carry me into the forest and let the ravens figure out what to do with a dying corpse before I’ll let a pirate rob me. That’s about as “American” of a statement as there e’re was, it is not meant to be a libertarian statement, I’m as Democratic as they come and someday I’ll make a good Republican, why it just rubs me the wrong way to think that they’d even try to make me take part in their pirated system. It infuriated me just the same when they let Wall St. and them greedy bankers get up off the ground, they can bail em out a hundred times we’re still headed for a populist revolt now or later, lets “hope” it’s a peaceful one.
What I think everybody wants to know right about now is whose congress this is anyway, you can write letters or light a bag of dung afire on their doorstep it don’t seem to make any difference. There seems to be a tendency to believe that a political base will stay with you no matter what, that aín’t the way we roll, this’ll be 1979 all over again here pretty quick. There’s a part of me that thinks that as savvy as this administration is that this is little more than an attempt to wake up the mainstream voters that put him there. It might work, it sure did get my attention.
It’s pretty ironic to think that these raucus Reagonite citizens will humbly receive their medicare their disability their unemployment and the VA and are especially fond of their government run military and their national parks and their interstate highways and so many other successful programs, yet are too stubborn or misinformed to admit that a public option will bring down the price of everybody’s premiums. Why is there not more support for this,  we ought to be cheering for having the opportunity of making another predator stop gouging us just because they can get away with it. Let me put it to you as I know my fellow Americans that are always looking for the best deal, we all talk high and mighty about our liberties, but let me ask a question of you all, both Democrat and Republican alike: If you could spend 5 dollars to save a 100 how many of you would do it? That’s what I thought, I don’t know many people that would pass that up in the name of liberty. We’re American and we want the 95 dollar return on 5. So to say that while your taxes will go up 1 to 2% your premiums will drop until they stabilize at a reasonable market price. Even if you don’t take part in a public system you still save money! What is the point in defending a system of insurers whose only obligation is to their shareholders, and that my friend rarely has much to do with your well-being. But if you insist we can go on paying $10,000,000. yearly salaries, fine, may the public option R.I.P.

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By ChaoticGood, August 17, 2009 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment

Obama is risking the loss of his base all to please some Republicans who will not vote for the final bill no matter what is left out of it.  Compromising with a drowning man means you get pulled under with him.  It is time to cut the ties with Republicans and let them go down.  Any compromise is foolish.

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By KDelphi, August 17, 2009 at 9:35 pm Link to this comment

What bullshit!!

The Blue Dopgs are not going to vote against a bill , promised by their president during his campaign, just because it has a puny “public option”, which is a very poor excuse for universal coverage anyway!


If the Dems wanted to pass it, they would. Vote Dems again, and good luck sleepng at night.

A Third Party may never win, but at least I dont have to beat myself up every day for falling for Obamas’ bs.

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By Ian, August 17, 2009 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Look anyone that doesn’t favor reformed health care doesn’t know what its like not to be able to afford proper health care for there family. Health care related debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country. Does that tell you people anything. Look at it from my point of view. I work seven days a week make a good living, but After I give the government my 30 percent of my hard earned money I cant afford health care. My tax money should go to help me and my fellow americans not foreign affairs like give Israel money for free health care and free education, and thats exactly what we do. your tax dollars buy Israel free health care and eduction. Dose any one out their think that alright. because I don’t and I need health care PLEASE!

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By Robert M. Deniz, August 17, 2009 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Health care reform without the Govt’s public option is a sell out to the Health care industry. The Democrats control all three branches of govt.,yet they are running scared of the Gop, Fox news and corporate America. America still has miltary personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, public option has been shelved and the U.S. economy is only benefiting Wall street. What kind of change is this? I want a country where the people come first.

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By samosamo, August 17, 2009 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment

I wish I could believe that voting 3rd party would break up this corporate hold on our governments, but as long as a lobbyists can just walk in with sack full of cash to buy a senator or representative, it just won’t happen no matter how illegal it is and the judiciary just don’t care.

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By wanked, August 17, 2009 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Oblabla had chosen Howard Dean to chair Health and Human Services, I would have believed he was earnest about real health care reform. He and rahm wouldn’t even consider it. I knew then the game was rigged. Bahbye barry.

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By Robert Ryan Reece, August 17, 2009 at 6:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The average Cuban has MUCH better health care than the U.S. citizen - how do THEY afford it?  Perhaps by realizing that health care is a right for everyone and not just there to gift a profit to the providers.  SHAME!  Wake up America!

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By WriterOnTheStorm, August 17, 2009 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment


Great letter. For those of us who would like to send our own, can you (or some other contributor) provide links for addresses of CA senators and congressfolk?

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By DBM, August 17, 2009 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

It’s not easy to run the government from the presidency.  The last president who tried to do much that went against the Washington agenda was Carter ... and he was shot down.

If Obama is going to make changes, and I think he will, he will have to bring public opinion (and political pressure) along with him.  He will always be confronted with corporate resistance and to some degree he’ll have to “work with” them too.

It’s a big ask.

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By StarTrekLivz, August 17, 2009 at 6:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Democrats will have a hard time in 2010, and Obama in 2012, if this keeps up.  We voted for Change We Can Believe In.  We got The Same Old Crap, with Wall Street Bailouts and Bonuses while main street is unemployed, bankrupt, and evicted.  Instead of Health Care for All, we’re getting health care for the wealthy employed few.  Still in Iraq and Afghanistan, and still in Guantanamo Bay, with no end in sight.  I should have voted for Nader.

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By knobcreekfarmer, August 17, 2009 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment

Dear Pres-O-dent,

Run. Hide. Pray that you’ll end up with as good of a public approval rating as Bush had when he left office. What did they buy you off with? Money. Power. Continue breath? It makes no matter, you’re toast in my book.

Good luck with that next book, “How I fucked the people who elected me. A how to in one term text.”

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By BobZ, August 17, 2009 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

Letter I sent to Senator’s Feinstein and Boxer:

fter seeing President Obama perform very impressively in his town halls this week, i felt the Democrats were regaining the initiative on health care reform. Thus I was disturbed this morning to read that the public option component of health care reform might be off the table. I can’t fathom why the Democrats would do this when it is such a key to true reform. The idea of substituting an “exchange” is ludicrous. It will not accomplish the type of reform that is needed and that is to give the private health insurers some much needed competition. And if the reason we are thinking of jettisoning the public option is to achieve bi-partisanship, that is a mirage. The Republican’s will not support any type of reform no matter what scraps of support they throw out in public. They sense the opportunity to sink the Obama presidency and will go all out to once again defeat reform just as they did in 1993.

Even though I fought hard for the President in 2008, I am willing to go the extra mile for health care reform also, which is why I am writing you, and also walking through my neigborhood to solicit views on health care reform. I hope you will support the President fully in fighting for the public option and not caving in to the Republicans. After all it was we who won the election in November 2008, not them and elections have consequences.

I know I am speaking for millions of other American’s who want our President to succeed on the most important issue facing us today. When I saw the thousands of people lining up this week in Los Angeles to receive free medical care I was hearbroken to realize that America is the only industrialized country in the world that would have to resort to this type of care usually provided in third world countries. Our country is better than that and we need you to fight for us in passing significant health care reform this year with a public option.

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By GregDiablo, August 17, 2009 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment

The moment Obama picked his chief of staff, you knew his old liberal stances (Iraq War, single payer, greater transparency, anti-Bush imperialism, etc.) were going to have to be jettisoned.  Rahmbo is a DLC Wall Street suck up, but Obama picked him to curry favor with the Blue Dogs and get legislation passed.  Only problem is, in order for this strategy to work, the progressive coalition has to roll over and play dead in order not to appear anti-Obama.  But as the president’s popularity drops, this strategy becomes less tenable.

The only hope, IMO, is to go for the Carville option which is to let the Rethugs kill health care, and then run on that in 2010.  With Harry Reid gone from the Senate majority leadership spot, and a few more Dems getting elected, Blue Dogs will roll over for the public option in the second round (2011) to save their asses.  It’s a big gamble, but it’s the only realistic strategy because most Americans are just too stupid to not be fooled by Reich-wing propaganda a la Faux News and druggie Limbaugh.

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By Pennythoughts, August 17, 2009 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I hope he stays the course and gives it his best shot before giving up.  Frankly, I don’t see how any president could hope to do something for the American people with the current situation.  Observing from Canada, the remarks that are made about our healthcare system, the ugly racist comments, the religious fanaticism, the incredible political partisanship and the corporate ownership of the government would seem to make the task impossible even for god - if there was such an entity.  America seems to have lost its way, lost its humanity and its pride.  The people are angry and embittered and disenfranchised.  Was this what your founding fathers envisioned?  I don’t think so.  Your internal dissension and the hatreds between the various groups are doing more harm to your way of life than any external terrorist every could.  I see your country in decline - morally, financially, intellectually and politically and I think its fair to say that millions of people around the world do feel sorry indeed to see the failure of such a magnificent experiment in freedom, humanity and democracy.  If you cannot somehow find a way to pull together, you will pull yourselves apart and be in peril of ending up with fascism.

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By glider, August 17, 2009 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment

Is it possible Obama has a oreo cookie complex?

When I was a much younger man I always found it very upsetting that a successful black (back in the 70-80s) would frequently be ridiculed by their black peers of selling out to their race, of not really being black, and just being an “oreo”.  I felt really good when Obama got elected that this phenomena appeared to be gone.  Blacks had made it and Obama was a great role model for the next generation of black youth. 

Given what has transpired with Obama’s bankster bailouts and the incompetency of his drive for healthcare reform, I keep having this nagging suspicion that Obama may have an “oreo” personality complex.  Could it really be that blacks who are successful in white society are more prone to bend and make concessions to get ahead.  In other words they may have a tendency to kiss a lot of ass?  So that therefore Obama can not be a strong president?

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By thekingofcheap, August 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

At least someone in Congress has the testicular fortitude to stand up and make demands while holding majority status ...

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By glider, August 17, 2009 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment

President “Caveman” Obama is quickly becoming a silk tongued con artist to the left and a weakling to the right, who cut deals with corporate america for the money to run his con-artist campaign (give me my grass roots campaign donation back!).  He certainly deserves that marketing campaign of the year award.  What he will not be winning is any acknowledgment of being a great president.  That takes guts and character which Obama is sorely lacking.  What a f*cking waste.

Reap what you have sown.

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By politicjock, August 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have volunteered for President Obama’s campaign and have made over 2,000 phone calls over a 2 month period. I, like many progressives, doctors, nurses, etc., strongly believe a single payer system to be the easiest, most effective way to deal with the health care crisis.

With the understanding that we live in a world of compromise, progressive have settle on the compromised position of a public option in order to accommodate the interests of the much too powerful insurance industry and its representatives in Congress, the Republican party.

The elimination of the public option would be an unacceptable capitulation to the will of the minority (70% of Americans have consistently supported single payer over many years) and for this reason, it will not be something that I, and many other progressives would support.

The President, and the Democratic party should better pay attention to the following: any health care bill that shall pass without a strong public option will simply be seen by progressives like myself as a mandate to deliver more customers to private health insurance companies; and if that is what comes to pass you will have lost my support for the foreseeable future.

If the Democratic party capitulates to the pressures of big business and deny the people the choice of a strong public option, it will be the final nail in the coffin of the party as the representative of working people. I, for one, will actively begin working to build a truly progressive party to the left of the apparently centrist, corporate driven Democratic party.

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