UPDATED: Fire Rahm Emmanuel

Rahm Emmanuel was wrong about Howard Dean, the direction of DNC, and Dean'd 50-state strategy. He's wrong on the kind of Health Care Reform Bill that's worth fighting for.

First Rahm Emmanuel implied to the WSJ that in the health care debate, the "public option" (a government offered plan to compete with private insurance thus forcing real competition as opposed to the monopoly that is the insurance industry of today) is, well, optional (and that the "trigger option" for getting a public option (meaning after several years if the insurance industry hasn't lowered cost the public option would kick in) is well, possible going to be triggered:

Rahm on the public option (from the WSJ):
It is more important that health-care legislation inject stiff competition among insurance plans than it is for Congress to create a pure government-run option, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said.

"The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest," he said in an interview. "The goal is non-negotiable; the path is" negotiable.

Rahm on triggers (from the WSJ):
Mr. Emanuel said one of several ways to meet Mr. Obama's goals is a mechanism under which a public plan is introduced only if the marketplace fails to provide sufficient competition on its own. He noted that congressional Republicans crafted a similar trigger mechanism when they created a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare in 2003. In that case, private competition has been judged sufficient and the public option has never gone into effect.
Here's how Think Progress reported on this horrible news - giving a bit more of the back story & how Sen. Max Baucus is one of the chief instigators of those trying to dismantle real heath care reform:
In his efforts to fashion a bipartisan compromise on health reform, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) has been trying to find alternatives to a robust public plan, which many Republicans refuse to consider. One of Baucus’s ideas has been to institute a public plan “trigger.” Under this proposal, the public plan would be created only if private insurance companies don’t make “meaningful, affordable coverage available to all Americans” within a certain period of time.

The Wall Street Journal reports that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is now lending Baucus his support for the public plan “trigger”:


The concept of a public plan “trigger” seems to be driven by a desire to protect the private insurance industry. As The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky writes, “Why shouldn’t we require private industry to deliver on their promise to contain costs? Health reform isn’t about protecting private industry; it’s about adopting policies that are most likely to lower health care costs.” And as former Sen. Tom Daschle said, “I can’t think of a tool that more effectively controls costs than a public option.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has been pushing the Senate Finance Committee to adopt a public plan, said a “trigger” is unacceptable. On Face the Nation this past Sunday, he said a public plan “has to be available on the first day to everybody…so there shouldn’t be a trigger.”


Then Democrats freaked (and rightfully so). First, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Howard Dean ripped into Rahm Emmanuel.
From Huff Post's Sam Stein:
Two major progressive voices in the health care debate took White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to task on Tuesday for suggesting that a public option with triggers could be a potential compromise on reform.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (via Sam Stein):
"I think that it is fair to say that there are a number of us who would not be voting for anything resembling a Baucus-type plan as we understand it right now," the senator told the Huffington Post, referring to Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus' effort at constructing a reform bill.


"Emanuel is dead wrong," Sanders said. "The triggers are meaningless. The American people have shown in poll after poll their contempt for private health insurance companies. They don't trust them and for good reason.

"Now, where we are right now politically is the HELP Committee, of which I'm a member, is going to bring forth a public plan," Sanders added. "The House of Representatives is supporting a public plan. And President Obama ran for office talking about a strong public plan. Why, with that political reality of the American people wanting it, the House going forward, the Senate HELP Committee going forward, would Rahm Emanuel suggest that we would compromise on this issue?"


"There is, I think, a growing awareness that it is absolutely important that now that we have 60 people in the caucus, that every member vote to end a Republican filibuster," said the senator. "So I think the strategy right now is that we will get 60 votes to defeat a Republican filibuster and come up with a strong health care reform piece of legislation which absolutely includes a strong public plan.... Sen. Dick Durbin is talking about it Sen. Chuck Schumer is talking about [corralling those 60 votes for cloture]. I think other people are talking about it as well."
Howard Dean (via Sam Stein):
"I think that a public plan with triggers is not a real public plan and it is going to be a trillion dollar failure," Dean said. "Anyone who thinks a trigger is going to lead us to a good place five years from now is wrong... It is not a sensible policy compromise."
Then, MoveOn.org came in from behind Sanders & Dean.

From TPM:
President Obama may have acted swiftly to put out the fire Rahm Emanuel set when he suggested the White House might support delaying a public option. But he seems to have missed some embers. The progressive group MoveOn--which has taken an active role in campaigning for the public option--is now urging its members to call the White House and demand they reject the idea of a trigger mechanism altogether.

"President Obama has been speaking out for weeks about the heart of health care reform: a public health insurance option that will lower costs and help cover everyone," the letter reads.

But yesterday, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel signaled support for a "trigger" provision--a proposal that would undermine the public option, and put off real reform for years....

Right now, when key committees are finalizing health care legislation, Emanuel's remarks will only embolden conservative opponents of reform. He should be standing with the majority of Americans for a strong public health insurance option--not disastrous half-measures like the "trigger."

Can you call the White House switchboard and tell them you're disappointed in Chief of Staff Emanuel's comments supporting the "trigger"? Tell them voters want a strong public health insurance option--not half-measures like the "trigger."

Earlier today, I noted that some reformers remained concerned that the White House hadn't gone far enough in responding to Emanuel's comments. You can read the entire letter below the fold.

read the letter MoveOn sent it's mllion of member (who flooded the White House with calls & emails).

While they/we were freaking, the President tried to walk Rahm's comments back:

Also from Sam Stein:

In an effort that seemed designed to appease concerned progressive advocates, President Barack Obama issued a clarifying statement about the administration's commitment to a "public option" for health insurance while traveling in Russia on Tuesday.

"I am pleased by the progress we're making on health care reform and still believe, as I've said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest," read the statement. "I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals."

The vague reassurance came hours after Obama's own chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel suggested that the White House would be comfortable with legislation that had a public plan "triggered" in only by worsening economic conditions.

My opinion on the President's comments: NOT. GOOD. ENOUGH.

It seems Harry Reid finally found his balls on all this watering down of the Senate's version of a health care bill. Whether it was in response to the uproar or whether or not the President picked up the phone and said enough of trying to placate rethugs & the handful of sell out conservadems (like Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad & Evan Bayh).

From Roll Call:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday ordered Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to drop a proposal to tax health benefits and stop chasing Republican votes on a massive health care reform bill.

Reid, whose leadership is considered crucial if President Barack Obama is to deliver on his promise of enacting health care reform this year, offered the directive to Baucus through an intermediary after consulting with Senate Democratic leaders during Tuesday morning’s regularly scheduled leadership meeting. Baucus was meeting with Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) Tuesday afternoon to relay the information.

According to Democratic sources, Reid told Baucus that taxing health benefits and failing to include a strong government-run insurance option of some sort in his bill would cost 10 to 15 Democratic votes; Reid told Baucus it wasn’t worth securing the support of Grassley and at best a few additional Republicans.

read more....
Never thought I would say this: BRAVO, HARRY. BRAVO.

Here's how TPM's Brian Beutler reported on the news:

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) takes his knocks for not driving a hard bargain with Republicans and conservative members of his own party. But a breaking report suggests that might be changing on the issue of health care reform.


If Baucus got the message, it would indicate a major change in the committee's direction. His is the only relevant panel not to have introduced a draft of health care reform legislation thanks in large part to internal wrangling over provisions like financing and the public option. Finance was widely expected to eschew a public option in favor of privately run health care co-operatives, and to propose paying for the bill by taxing employer-provided health care benefits. Neither idea has support among liberal Democrats.

If the Finance Committee does indeed change course, then all committees of jurisdiction, in both the House and Senate, will be working with legislation that calls for the creation of a public option--something Republicans have vowed to oppose.

And Think Progress stated the significance Reid's stance like this:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has “ordered Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) to drop a proposal to tax health benefits and stop chasing Republican votes on a massive health care reform bill.”


If Baucus’s attempts to secure Republican support delay the process any further, the “planned merger” of the Finance Committee’s health reform proposal with that of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee could be “scrapped in favor of allowing each one to move to the floor on its own.” The lack of a public option is a deal-killer for some Democratic Senators because, as Igor Volsky explains, it is perhaps the most effective way to reduce the cost of health care, while ensuring affordable coverage for all.

Here's the bottom line as far as I'm concerned and it was the gist of the letter I faxed to President Obama yesterday afternoon:
One of the main reasons Democrats lost control of Congress in such a stunning turnaround during the 1994 midterms elections: Rahm Emmanuel & all the other triangulating, Clinton cronies who were more interested in getting a half-assed wins on President Clinton’s books, rather than do what was right for the country – which meant of course stepping up, taking a stand and then fighting tooth & nail for that stand.

Rahm’s DLC mentality – the mentality that says we need to give away the baby with the bath water in order to appease republicans – or avoid a big public fight with them – is the exact opposite mentality that got you elected and the exact opposite mentality required of you now to ensure that the Health Care bill isn’t some watered down joke. It’s not what those of us who have been fighting for and standing behind you from before the first Primary/caucus ever took place expected of you, and it won’t be what anyone who knows exactly what you, Hillary Clinton and the DNC were promising expect. Rahm’s definition of healthcare reform won’t fool anyone.

Rahm is not serving you well. In fact, he’s about as wrong for your needs – for the country’s needs – as anyone you could have put in charge of your agenda could be.

Bottom line? If you continue allow Rahm Emmanuel to negotiate away real Health Care Reform – because he is more interested in putting a “big win” on your books – you will go down in history as a average President – just like Bill Clinton. While that’s not such a bad thing, it’s certainly not what we voted for.

If this final Health Care Reform bill doesn’t have an unadulterated, full-throttled Public Option – one that maintains perfectly the original definition of a Public Option – expect democrats to lose the house in 2010 and at least two if not three of the vulnerable Senate seats.
If Rahm Emmanuel had gotten his way, Howard Dean wouldn't have taken over and reformed the failed DLC-Clintonite mentality. There wouldn't never have been a 50-State strategy. And there would never have been a President Barack Obama, who built upon Dean's already thriving strategy to win the Presidency.

If Rahm and his DLC, conservadem stooges get their way - there will be no real health care reform. All there will be is some half-assed piece of bullshit legislation doing nothing the public expects and once again that mentality will kill Democrats at the polls.

Rahm is just wrong, and he should be fired, that is if the President expects to remembered as more than just an average President. If that's what he is hoping for, he's going to have to get rid people who continually whisper in his ear what he can't do and replace them with people who tell he what he must do.
NY Times Poll: 85% of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed. 85%
NY Times Poll: 72% of respondents said they want real health care reform. 72%!
Pew Poll: 75% of those polled support changing Health Care completely. 75%
This isn't brain surgery. If people like Rahm, Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad & Evan Bayh and all the other DLC, Conservadems aren't going to lead, then they should get the fuck out of the way.


Last night Congressional Democrats met with Rahm to give his a piece of their mind. Lesson to Max Baucus: This is what working for the people really looks like. Oh, and grow a fucking pair (h/t slinkerwink):

One of the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, demonstrated just why she has bigger balls than Senator Max Baucus:

Progressive Caucus Co-Chairwoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) warned Emanuel that he would lose the caucus’ votes if the White House compromised on the issue and included a "trigger" that could delay a public insurance plan indefinitely. The trigger idea is backed by conservative Democrats but is anathema to liberals.

"We have compromised enough, and we are not going to compromise on any kind of trigger game," Woolsey said she told Emanuel. "People clapped all over the place. We mean it, and not just progressives."

And her fellow member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Raul Grijalva, also chimed in support of the public option:

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chairman of the 77-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, fired off a letter to President Barack Obama warning him against dropping a public insurance option from health care reform plans.

Grijalva described the "alarm and dismay" he felt after reading a Wall Street Journal story that cites White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel offering support for a "trigger" mechanism, under which a public plan option is only part of health care if the marketplace fails to provide sufficient competition on its own.

"I want to be crystal clear that any such trigger for a strong public plan option is a non-starter with a majority of the Members of the Progressive Caucus," Grijalva said.

"Moreover, I consider it unacceptable for any of the cost savings that you are negotiating with hospitals and other sectors of the health care industry to be made contingent upon a robust public plan option not being included in the final legislation," Grijalva continued.



I forgot all about this. Hoard Dean was on Countdown last night and they discussed not just Franken, but Health Care Reform and the 60 vote myth in the second half of the segement.

From DKTV:

Keith Olbermann pays tribute to Al Franken’s first day as U.S. Senator, followed by a discussion with former DNC Chairman and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

And of course, Sen. Bernie Sanders said the same thing on the Ed Schultz show - only more forcefully:

Also from DKTV:

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