This all started in August when Health and Human Services said that the public option was “not the essential element of health care reform.” Within hours anonymous administration officials were walking back Secretary Sebelius’ quote by claiming that “she misspoke.”

A couple weeks later,Robert Gibbs chimed in by claiming that the White House shouldn’t dictate Congress’ decision on a public option. David Axelrod chimed in with a quote referring to the fact that the health care bill will “include the spirit of the public option.” Those two quotes went over so well Axelrod himself was walking it back a mere week later.

Then the President himself didn’t even bother to pick up the phone and lobby Senators on behalf a policy he’s called the “best way to achieve his health care goals.” This has lead Senator Jay Rockefeller, and other progressives, to be baffled at the White House’s actions.

Then Axelrod, Rahm Emmanuel, and Valarie Jarret tried bury the public option again 6 weeks later. They were rebuffed health care reform supporters making 300,000 calls to Congress in a single day, and by the fact that 80% of those calls directly asked members of Congress to support a public option.

Now the President told Harry Reid, who of all people was prepared to make a strong stand for the public option in the Senate, not to bother with it because President Senator Olympia Snowe might not like Reid’s policy preferences. And within hours, the White House was yet again walking a disastrous trial balloon aimed at killed the public option back.

There is a pattern here. Five times senior administration officials–four on the record, one as an anonymous quote–have attempted to kill the public option. And five times they’ve been forced to walk it back for two simple reasons: first, the public option is good public policy; second, the public option is supported by 60 to 65 percent of the American public, and even picks up significant support from rank-and-file Republicans.

I hope that one day soon the administration will realize that opposing 2/3rds of the public on a key issue in order to not upset powerful politicians and special interests is bad politics. I hope they will stop banging their head against the wall, and realize that serving the President means fighting to include his best interests in the final legislation. A strong public option is in the President’s best interests. Simply put, Americans are tired of being squeezed while the powers that be party as if nothing ever happened.

thebagofhealthandpolitics

thebagofhealthandpolitics

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