Two Months After He Negotiated It Away, Obama Argued for Public Option in Joint Address to Congress
We now know that the White House, in secret negotiations with industry lobbyists, quietly killed the public option in July 2009. But when the President gave a nationally-televised, joint address to Congress on September 9, 2009, he implied that the public option was still on the table.
…an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Let me be clear – it would only be an option for those who don’t have insurance. No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance. In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5% of Americans would sign up. […]
It would also keep pressure on private insurers to keep their policies affordable and treat their customers better, the same way public colleges and universities provide additional choice and competition to students without in any way inhibiting a vibrant system of private colleges and universities.
It’s worth noting that a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort I’ve proposed tonight.
Obama later said that the public option was “only a means to and end” but then added,
I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice.
Uh-huh. And here’s the choice we got: would you like WellPoint or Aetna?
So, two questions about this. One, why did Obama make a detailed argument for a program on national television that he’d already killed? And, two, if you’ve already killed it in the sleaziest way possible, why on Earth would you broadcast the fact that a strong majority still favored it?