Did Obama Even Want the Public Option?

Chris Lewis

Health care reform is pretty much in the bag. President Barack Obama was triumphant in at least getting a bill passed, and folks on the left seem to have come to some consensus that hey, at least it’s better than nothing.

But over at The Progressive, Matthew Rothschild is having none of it. “Seems to me that Obama played us all for fools,” he writes. Rothschild muses that perhaps Obama only gave lip service to the public option so that progressives would back his reforms; the president never actually had any intention of including it in the final reform bill. Says Rothschild:

“If you’re a good progressive, and you wanted single-payer health care for all, or, second best, Medicare for All Who Want It, or third best, a robust public option, or fourth best, a paltry public option, now you’ve got nothing, nada, zippo.

Has it ever crossed your mind that this is the way President Obama wanted it to be?

That he tossed in the public option at the beginning only to get progressives on board, knowing full well that he was going to jettison the public option by the end?”

His evidence: Obama never insisted on a bill with a public option. He minimized its importance repeatedly in the media. Rahm Emanuel was in regular contact with Senator Max Baucus when Baucus dealt the first blow to the public option. And when Joe Lieberman threatened the reform process with his whining, Obama didn’t step in.