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Press Conference With Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Anthony Weiner (D-NY) Regarding Public Option

ALERT: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is live-blogging the healthcare reform summit on DKos.

Earlier today, I participated in a call-in press conference with Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)], [Anthony Weiner (D-NY), and others regarding support for the public option- both in Congress and in America as a whole.

(Imagine my surprise to get this invite! And I must say, the call waiting music was particularly snazzy stuff for a dreary day…)

Some background:

Upon hearing in January that the public option portion of the health care reform bill was all but dead, Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Polis sent out a letter to members of the House- and the Polis-Pingree letter garnered 120 signatures in just one week for passing the public option through reconciliation.

This past week, 24 senators signed a similar letter by Sen. Michael Bennet(D-CO), also calling for the public option.


So, Pingree and Weiner, along with folks from Democracy for America and Clear Action held an informative media press conference today regarding the real numbers regarding support in America for the public option.

From zero support exactly 1 month ago to now 120 members of the House and 24 Senators signing on- nice numbers of support. But is it going to be enough to get the ball rolling, especially when WH spokesman Robert Gibbs recently stated that there was not enough political support for a public option?

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: “I think that we have seen obviously, and I talked about this some yesterday, that though there are some that are supportive of this, there isn’t enough political support in a majority to get this through. The President wanted to find-took the Senate bill as the base and looks forward to discussing consensus ideas on Thursday.”

Now, here’s where it gets really interesting. Because as one person just put it during the conference call when asked why Gibbs would say that, he is “factually not right”.

(I’m guessing that means Gibbs is wrong– still trying to figure out this newspeaky journalism lingo stuff!) Anyways…

The truth is, Robert Gibbs IS wrong- and HOW:


What would make you more likely to vote for Democrats in the 2010 elections: If they pass health care reform that includes a public health insurance option but gets zero Republican votes OR if they pass health care reform without a public option but with some Republican votes?


NEVADA (Reid)  

ALL                   53%  40%  9%  

INDEPENDENTS  56%  33%  11%  

OBAMA VOTERS  77%  11%  12%  

ILLINOIS (Durbin, Burris)  

ALL                   61%  30%  9%  

INDEPENDENTS  68%  25%  7%  

OBAMA VOTERS  79%  10%  11%

WASHINGTON (Murray, Cantwell)  

ALL                   61%  25%  14%  

INDEPENDENTS  69%  17%  14%  

OBAMA VOTERS  80%  8%  12%  

MISSOURI (McCaskill)  

ALL                   49%  36%  15%  

INDEPENDENTS  55%  32%  13%  

OBAMA VOTERS  76%  11%  13%  

VIRGINIA (Webb, Warner)  

ALL                   55%  33%  12%  

INDEPENDENTS  63%  32%  5%  

OBAMA VOTERS  81%  7%  12%  

IOWA (Harkin)  

ALL                   58%  29%  13%  

INDEPENDENTS  67%  23%  10%  

OBAMA VOTERS  76%  11%  13%  

MINNESOTA (Klobuchar, Franken)  

ALL                   51%  39%  10%  

INDEPENDENTS  53%  37%  10%  

OBAMA VOTERS  75%  12%  13%  

COLORADO (Udall, Bennet)  

ALL                   46%  43%  11%  

INDEPENDENTS  47%  38%  15%  

OBAMA VOTERS  75%  12%  13%  

Okay, these are polled voters and not members of Congress; I get that. But since it’s the voters who decide who gets to be in Congress, I think an argument could be made that this is indeed “political support”.

And in fact, a remarkable tidbit was shared during the presser: When asking respondents in Nevada who had already indicated that they would be voting FOR a Republican INSTEAD of for Harry Reid for Senate, 21% of them said they would indeed vote for Reid- if Reid could get the public option passed through the Senate.

That’s “political”- and it’s HUGE.

What’s more, the most recent New York Times poll  showed one-third of Republican voters join 59% of Independents and the overwhelming majority of Democrats in supporting a public option. So there is indeed solid bipartisan support for the public option “on the ground” outside of the Beltway.

More below the fold, as I watch the summit and opine…Can I go on the record here as saying how disgusted I am that Maine’s Olympia Snowe DECLINED the President’s invite to attend today’s summit?

I now hereby put my full support behind ANYONE who wants to run against her in a few years, including a dead rotted raccoon. It would represent Maine better right now…


10:30 am EST- TN Sen Lamar Alexander: “Health care reform bill should be scrapped and we should start over”.

10:35- CA Rep Nancy Pelosi: “Americans don’t have time for us to start over”.

10:45- NV Sen Harry Reid To Lamar Alexander: “You have a right to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. Let’s make sure we talk about facts.”

Also stating how reconciliation has been used 16 of 22 times recently- BY REPUBLICANS.

Cut away: Lamar looks like he found a bug in his soup…

Bonus: Here is Anthony Weiner’s press release issued yesterday, regarding the public option:

Washington, DC – Representative Anthony Weiner (D – Brooklyn and Queens), member of the Health Subcommittee and Co-Chair of the Caucus on the Middle Class, released the following statement on the apparent loss of the public option:


“The most vexing mystery in Washington right now is what happened to the public option.”

“The President supports a public option.  72% of Americans support the public option according to a recent poll.  The House already passed a health care bill that included a public option.”

“Yet the public option is not on the agenda at the bipartisan health care summit and the President failed to include a public option in his comprehensive health care plan.”

“When asked to explain why the public option is off the table, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that there aren’t enough votes in the Senate.”

“Really?  We deserve an answer to this question.  Let’s see the U.S. Senate vote on whether they support a public option before the President, the House, and the American people before we write the obituary.”

“At least in the game Clue you find out who committed the murder at the end of the game.”

“Let’s give the American people credit for wanting the answer to this question.”

“If this maneuver was just to court Republican votes, I defy anyone to point to a single one we will have gotten in return for killing the public option.”

11:00- Squabbling back and forth between Lamar and President Obama regarding cost containment; now Miss Mitch is butting in and calling on Tom Coburn to speak to the cost containment.

11:10- OK Sen Tom Coburn: “We’re creating more cases of diabetes through the food stamp and school lunch programs”.

(Snooky reminiscing about back in the 1980s when the Reagan Administration labelled ketchup as a vegetable, to comply with school lunch vegetable requirements…)

“33% of costs should be there”.

(paraphrase) “We should be sending in ‘indercover patients’ to doctors to figure out where the wastes are occurring.” (regarding malpractice and waste)

11:15- Obama adressing Coburn.

11:15- MD Rep. Steney Hoyer up to bat to discuss cost containment. MSNBC cutting away. Switching to C-SPAN.

11:20- MT Sen Max Baucus

11:25- MN Rep John Kline – a shame Michelle Bachmann isn’t there… ūüėČ

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