Custom Search

Saturday, October 24, 2009

White House Sides With Snowe Over Reid


Multiple sources tell TPMDC that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is very close to rounding up 60 members in support of a public option with an opt out clause, and are continuing to push skeptical members. But they also say that the White House is pushing back against the idea, in a bid to retain the support of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

"They're skeptical of opt out and are generally deferential to the Snowe strategy that involves the trigger," said one source close to negotiations between the Senate and the White House. "they're certainly not calming moderates' concerns on opt out."

This new development, which casts the White House as an opponent of all but the most watered down form of public option, is likely to yield backlash from progressives, especially those in the House who have been pushing for a more maximal version of reform.

Snowe is a Republican and the White House is desperate to have at least one Republican on board, somehow thinking that one GOP member joining with the Democrats on Obamacare somehow would make the bill bipartisan.

Obama understands the public is going to hold him and Democrats accountable for any bill that comes out of Congress and makes it to his desk and he is basically trying to hide behind Snowe's skirts, so to speak, against the fall out coming their way.

Erza Klein tries to make sense of all the contradictory reports coming out as the Democrats try to merge all the versions of the Obamacare bills.

On Thursday night, Reid went over to the White House for a talk with the president. The conversation centered on Reid's desire to put Schumer's national opt-out plan into the base bill. White House officials were not necessarily pleased, and they made that known. Everyone agrees that they didn't embrace Reid's new strategy. Everyone agrees that the White House wants Snowe on the bill, feels the trigger offers a safer endgame, and isn't convinced by Reid's math. But whether officials expressed a clear preference for the trigger, or were just worried about the potential for 60 votes, is less clear. One staffer briefed on the conversation says "the White House basically told us, 'We hope you guys know what you're doing.'"

Reaction to Reid's plan is already coming out and Governor Tim Pawlenty has stated for the record that should Reid pass a plan with the "opt-out" option, Pawlenty would lead the charge to make sure that Minnesota does indeed "opt-out" of it.

Well, I don’t know if we would opt out, but I personally would like to opt out because I don’t like government-run health care. And we shouldn’t call it the public option; we should call it what it is, which is government-run health care. They are desperate — the Democrats are thrashing about trying to find some way to get government-run health care into the final package, to embed it in the final package.

“And the rationale is, ‘We have to keep the private sector honest.’ So what’s next then? If you don’t like the price of toilet paper and toothpaste, are we going to have a government-run Target or Wal-Mart to keep the private sector honest? I mean, it’s a ludicrous proposition that government’s going to come in in this space and compete directly with the private sector. Whether it’s opt in, opt out, trigger — I don’t care. I don’t like the idea.”

Video Below.

Think Progress points out that Pawlenty is not alone.

Pawlenty’s not alone. Unfortunately, Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, Creigh Deeds, said this week that that as governor, he would “certainly consider opting out” of the public option “if that were available to Virginia.”