“Read My Lips” There Will Be a Public Option

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on September 4th, 2009

Will President Obama go the way of George H.W. Bush? There’s speculation that the president will not keep his promise to include a public option in the health care reform bill. That’s more than unfortunate. Moreover, word has it that the anti-rescission provision might fail as well.  Fully aware that the president is rescission bytmpphpXbDfYd[1] difficulties few presidents ever faced, failure to keep his promise can be devastating to his presidency. Surely any hope of being a transformative president seems already gone. The forces that have killed universal health care for the past half century will simply be emboldened by another victory. It would be better for the president to serve one term fighting for principle than hanging on to two terms by playing politics. Yet, he might not even succeed at that. The House progressive caucus has threatened not to support such legislation. Failure all around. A bad bill is not better than no bill at all. The president must resist a bill that includes a so-called “triggering” mechanism for a public option if the insurance companies do not control costs is a bad bill. There’s no way to guarantee compliance. It’s simply cosmetic. I sympathize with the president. But consensus-seeking is an inappropriate strategy when one hasn’t a partner in the consensus-seeking enterprise. Standing for principle, committing oneself to health care reform that is fair, cost-efficient, and universal, even if it fails, is better than a self-congratulatory bill that is unfair, doesn’t contain costs, even it covers more Americans.  How valuable is a bill that doesn’t preclude rescission of coverage? What kind of coverage is that? Please Mr. President take the high road. Keep your promise to principle. Even if we lose at least we will at least know what we’re fighting for?


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