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Obama, Lieberman Express Support for Triggers

The public option was dealt away last summer by Rahm and the Baucus Caucus. The question then became — how could the President backpeddle on something that had been a central tenet of his campaign? How could they not package it in any way that did not look like a political failure?

The original plan — Sista Souljah the "left" when they got upset. Well someone’s calculator wasn’t working that day, 77% of the country is not the "left." President Obama’s poll numbers began to slide precipitously. "Anonymous administration officials" were dispatched to reassure everyone that the President supports a public option, but won’t "insist" on one.

Translation: Congress gets to take the hit.

The public drumbeat for triggers began yesterday, with "progressive" members pushed into service who were among the 60 that said they will vote for a bill that doesn’t have a public option. Leadership toady Sam Farr and Michael Capuano (who subsequently postponed filing papers to run for Ted Kennedy’s seat in the ensuing shit storm) laid the groundwork for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to push triggers yesterday, and today the trial balloons are flying:

Aides say Obama thinks it would be hard to get to true choice and competition without a public option or a fallback to a public option — the so-called trigger, which would kick in based on the insurance market.

And according to the Hill, bipartisanship is "on" over triggers:

[Susan] Collins and [Joe] Lieberman both told The Hill they are more supportive of a “trigger” concept floated by Collins’s Senate colleague, Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, which calls for a public option to be implemented if insurance companies fail to fix the current system’s cost inefficiencies….[Lieberman’s] state is home to several large insurers.

As Brian Beutler notes, triggers don’t "scare off the insurance companies in quite the same way that a regular public option would." Well that is the point. To find an acceptable way to crawl out of this situation where Obama and the "progressives" can save face for abandoning their core principle that won’t "trigger" insurance companies to fund a GOP resurgence.

Up until now, the President has been able to have it both ways. Vague public endorsements of a public option have allowed progressive supporters to believe that the President wants one even as his administration does nothing either publicly or strategically to work for one. Trial balloons like the one above are dismissed as "Politico’s GOP propaganda" and they feel reassured when he makes statement of abstract support. Many have dismissed the overt implication of a commitment to a "bipartisan bill" — since the GOP will never support a public option, no "bipartisan" bill will ever include one.

That needle will soon become impossible to thread.

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Obama, Lieberman Express Support For Triggers

The public option was dealt away last summer by Rahm and the Baucus Caucus. The question then became — how could the President backpeddle on something that had been a central tenet of his campaign?  How could they not package it in any way that did not look like a political failure?

The original plan — Sista Souljah the "left" when they got upset.  Well someone’s calculator wasn’t working that day, 77% of the country is not the "left."  President Obama’s poll numbers began to slide precipitously.   "Anonymous administration officials" were dispatched to reassure everyone that the President supports a public option, but won’t "insist" on one.  

Translation:  Congress gets to take the hit.

The public drumbeat for triggers began yesterday, with "progressive" members pushed into service who were among the 60 that said they will vote for a bill that doesn’t have a public option.  Leadership toady Sam Farr and Michael Capuano (who subsequently postponed filing papers to run for Ted Kennedy’s seat in the ensuing shit storm) laid the groundwork for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to push triggers yesterday, and today the trial balloons are flying:

Aides say Obama thinks it would be hard to get to true choice and competition without a public option or a fallback to a public option — the so-called trigger, which would kick in based on the insurance market.

And according to the Hill, bipartisanship is "on" over triggers:

[Susan] Collins and [Joe] Lieberman both told The Hill they are more supportive of a “trigger” concept floated by Collins’s Senate colleague, Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, which calls for a public option to be implemented if insurance companies fail to fix the current system’s cost inefficiencies….[Lieberman’s] state is home to several large insurers.

As Brian Beutler notes, triggers don’t "scare off the insurance companies in quite the same way that a regular public option would."  Well that is the point. To find an acceptable way to crawl out of this situation where Obama and the "progressives" can save face for abandoning their core principle that won’t "trigger" insurance companies to fund a GOP resurgence.  

Up until now, the President has been able to have it both ways.  Vague public endorsements of a public option have allowed progressive supporters to believe that the President wants one even as his administration does nothing either publicly or strategically to work for one.  Trial balloons like the one above are dismissed as "Politico’s GOP propaganda" and they feel reassured when he makes statement of abstract support. Many have dismissed the overt implication of a commitment to a "bipartisan bill" — since the GOP will never support a public option, no "bipartisan" bill will ever include one. 

That needle will soon become impossible to thread.  

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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