I took the time to transcribe the exchange between Mary Landrieu and Howard Dean last night on Hardball because I wanted to be absolutely sure of what Landrieu says and place it in context.

It’s a patent absurdity to claim, as she does, that the President didn’t campaign on a public option. It was in his health care platform, for those like Landrieu who weren’t paying attention. But her assertion to Howard Dean about what the Senate always intended is gobsmacking:

DEAN:  You would not let us choose another program. You forced us into the insurance industry. We don’t want to be forced into the insurance industry. You took away our choice. That is wrong.

LANDRIEU: That is not true, you never had that choice to begin with.

DEAN: The President campaigned on it, Mary.

LANDRIEU: In this bill we always wanted…

DEAN: The President of the United States campaigned for it.

LANDRIEU: No he did not campaign for public option, he did not campaign on Medicare for all, he most certainly did not.

The only bill to pass so far, the House bill, has a public option. And there is a public option in the merged bill that Reid delivered to the Senate, which Landrieu voted for cloture on.

To say “you never had that choice to begin with,” and that this is the bill they “always wanted,” means that it was all just smoke and mirrors.

Courtesy of Harry Reid.  Who was always just putting on a show until they gave the insurance industry what they wanted.

Transcript after the jump:

LANDRIEU: Senator Lieberman has helped us on dozens and dozens of votes when we needed 60 votes, and he’s been there. He just does have a little different view than many in the party, but actually, I understand his view. He says we’re going to reform health care, which means we’re going to reform the insurance market, not eliminate it. There are governors like Governor Dean who wants to eliminate the insurance companies in America. The President did not run on that.

DEAN: That’s simply not true

LANDRIEU: That is true. Governor, that is. The President didn’t run on it, he ran on reforming it and fixing it, so Joe has a little different view of wanting the private sector to have more at the table. I sort of agree with that, but I”m a little bit more open to compromise on it than he is. But nonetheless, we need 60 votes, we’re still working with Olympia Snowe, hoping we can get her vote as well.

MATTHEWS: Well good luck Senator Mary Landrieu, thank you. And a last thought, Governor…

HOWARD DEAN: First of all, it’s obviously not true that I want to eliminate the insurance market. Second if all, I’d be interested to know why Senator Landrieu…

LANDRIEU: (interrupts) Well you just spent a half hour beating up on them, Howard, we need to reform them. And there’s plenty…

DEAN: Mary, I’d like to know why you deny my people the choice to sign up for an alternative. You are forcing us into insurance companies.

LANDRIEU: There is plenty, there is plenty of reform in this bill for insurance companies. I’ve never supported (it?) before either.

DEAN: You took away our choice. You took away our choice.

MATTHEWS: We’re in overtime here. 30 seconds for the Governor, and then 30 seconds for the Senator

DEAN: You would not let us choose another program. You forced us into the insurance industry. We don’t want to be forced into the insurance industry. You took away our choice. That is wrong.

LANDRIEU: That is not true, you never had that choice to begin with.

DEAN: The President campaigned on it, Mary.

LANDRIEU: In this bill (he/we) always wanted…

DEAN: The President of the United States campaigned for it.

LANDRIEU: No he did not campaign for public option, he did not campaign on Medicare for all, he most certainly did not.

DEAN: Yes he most certainly did. He most certainly did.

LANDRIEU: He most certainly did not.

DEAN: He absolutely did. You are not accurate in that. He campaigned for a federal employee benefit with a public option. That’s what he campaigned for.

LANDRIEU: He told people if you have what you — if you like the insurance that you have, you’ll be able to keep it.

MATTHEWS: Governor.

DEAN: And he also said there would be a public option along with a federal employee benefit package. That is what he said.
LANDRIEU: And there is, there is one in the bill.

DEAN: There is no public option.

MATTHEWS: I’ve got to stop you, Governor. I’ve got to let the Senator respond.

LANDRIEU: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: The Senator gets to respond. Is that your last word, Senator? Because I want you to have the final word.

LANDRIEU: Yes, my last point, thank you Chris. In the bill that the Governor is now saying he’s not for, there is a national, non-profit option that gives the same choices that members of Congress and federal employees have. If that’s not enough, I don’t know what is.

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.
Subscribe in a reader

193 Comments