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Monday, August 17, 2009

Trial Balloon or Backpedal...It's Bad Politics

There's all sorts of analysis from all sides right now about what exactly the White House was doing when Secretary Sebelius floated the idea that they may back a health care plan without the public option. Here's Michelle Malkin.

Do you believe the Sunday spin on the White House’s alleged “retreat” from the Obamacare public option?

Video of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s pooh-poohing of the public option provision is here.

Drudge illustrated the AP story with a white flag.

Politico says the White House has “backed away.”

I’m not buying the hype. Are you?

Daily Kos is quoting from Max Baucas from last November. (Baucas suggested there aren't the votes to pass the public option)

The Baucus plan envisions that the Health Insurance Exchange would offer a new opportunity for individuals and small businesses to easily compare private coverage options and a public plan and to purchase the policy that would work best for them.

The Exchange would also include a new public plan option, similar to Medicare. This option would abide by the same rules as private insurance plans participating in the Exchange (e.g., offer the same levels of benefits and set the premiums the same way). Rates paid to health care providers by this option would be determined by balancing the goals of increasing competition and ensuring access for patients to high-quality health care. A number of options could be considered to determine who runs the plan, who is eligible for it, and how to ensure that the public-private insurance competition lowers costs and improves quality. The Independent Health Coverage Council, described below, would inform these decisions.

Meanwhile Representative Anthony Weiner proclaims that 100 votes would be lost if the public option were removed. Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi proclaims the "public option" the best option.

What no one is talking about is the merits of the president's health care plan. The president health care plan is on life support. He's losing support daily. He can't afford to waste anytime and yet his HHS Secretary foolishly floats the idea that they maybe willing to compromise and support a plan without a public option. Worse than that, the White House looks weak and disorganized. No one knows if they are for or against the public option and yet the White House leaves this out there without emphatically clarifying themselves.

As such, the story has become endless speculation over whether or not the White House is or isn't in favor of the public option and everything surrounding that. Now, what we have is endless speculation, inside baseball politics, and political forecasting of the chances that this bill will pass. No one is talking about the bill itself. The health care bill is struggling and now the administration has allowed for at least two days for the oxygen to be spent on things that will do nothing to help it pass.

The White House handed a story to the media and allowed the media to run with it. They've allowed, through this foolishness, to be totally taken off message. They've allowed themselves to look confused and weak. Whether this is a trial balloon or a back pedal, I don't know or care. What I do know is this is terrible politics.

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