Liberal Group Urges Obama Not to Cater to GOP’s Olympia Snowe on Public Option

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Oct 24, 2009 2:03pm

Liberals are telling President Obama not to cater to Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. My colleague, ABC News' Teddy Davis, has more: A liberal group launched a television ad and petition on Saturday pressuring President Obama on the public option. Watch it HERE: The new ad by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee will air at least 100 times in Maine, broadcast and cable, augmented by online fundraising at The PCCC's prior Maine ad raised over $100,000 online. The PCCC is concerned about a report in Saturday's Washington Post which says that President Obama is "wary of alienating (Sen. Olympia) Snowe — the only Republican so far to support a Democratic health-care measure — and had already concluded that her plan for a 'trigger' that would create a public option if private insurers don't offer affordable rates represented a satisfactory compromise." The PCCC wants Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to press on with plans to persuade Senate Democrats to permit a health-care bill with an opt-out public plan to come to the floor, even if there is no guarantee that all 60 senators who caucus with Democrats would ultimately vote for it. The PCCC does not want the White House to cater to Snowe because she indicated earlier this week that she will join the 39 other Republican senators in blocking legislation that allows for the immediate creation of a government insurance plan — even if individual states are given the chance to opt out. Snowe favors a public option with a trigger. Under her plan, the public option would only come into effect in regions of the country where the private insurance industry does not make affordable coverage available in the wake of national health-care reform. The PCCC contends that there is majority support in the country, as well as in Snowe's home state of Maine, for the immediate creation of a public insurance option. Progressives worry that insurers will find ways around the trigger mechanism without actually bringing down the cost of coverage. Update: WH: Obama & Reid Are on Same Page re: Public Option; Liberal Group Doesn't Buy It The co-founder of a liberal group pushing for the public option is continuing to question President Obama's commitment to the issue despite a Sunday night effort on the part of the White House deputy communications director to beat back reports that the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., are pursuing different strategies. "Here's what the White House needs to understand," writes Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (P.C.C.C.), in a statement posted to and e-mailed to reporters. "Expressing a preference for the public option is not the same as fighting for the public option. Telling Harry Reid 'good luck with that' is not the same as the president saying, 'I am there helping Reid fight for those final votes.'" Green was responding to a Sunday night post to the official White House blog from deputy communications director Dan Pfeiffer. "A rumor is making the rounds that the White House and Senator Reid are pursuing different strategies on the public option. Those rumors are absolutely false," wrote Pfeiffer. The Washington Post reported on Saturday that President Obama is "wary of alienating" Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and had "already concluded that her plan for a 'trigger' represented a satisfactory compromise." The PCCC cited the Washington Post report on Saturday when it launched a new television ad in the state of Maine, urging President Obama not to cater to Snowe on the public option. The White House wants Snowe to vote for health-care legislation so they can characterize the final bill as bipartisan and provide political cover for moderate to conservative Democrats who vote for it. Snowe supports a public option with a trigger. She does not, however, support the immediate creation of a public option – even one which would give states the option of opting out of it. In addition to taking issue with Pfeiffer's statement, Green mocked a Wednesday, Oct. 21 speech that President Obama delivered to his campaign arm, Organizing for America. From Green: "Does this sound like President Obama fighting for the public option to you? From his speech to OFA last week — on Wed, Oct. 21:" He then quotes Obama saying the following: 
Among Democrats and progressives, there are a whole set of views about how we should do health care. But understand that the bill that you least like in Congress right now. The one you least like, of the five that are out there, would provide 29 million Americans health care. 29 million Americans who don’t have it right now would get it. The bill you least like would prevent insurance companies from barring you from getting health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Whatever the bill you least like would set up an exchange so that people right now who are having to try to bargain for health insurance on their own are suddenly part of a pool of millions that forces insurance companies to compete for their business and give them better deals and lower rates. So there are going to be some disagreements and details to work out.  But to the Democrats – I want to say to you Democrats – let’s make sure we keep our eye on the prize. … Sometimes Democrats can be their own worst enemies. Democrats are an opinionated bunch. (laughter) After reproducing the president’s speech, Green writes: "Yay bill we least like! Yay insurance for 29 million people — by mandating they buy insurance from rip-off artists with no choice of a public option! Here is Pfeiffer's full statement on the White House blog: The Public Option: Rumor Check
Posted by Dan Pfeiffer on October 25, 2009 at 8:56 PM EDT A rumor is making the rounds that the White House and Senator Reid are pursuing different strategies on the public option.  Those rumors are absolutely false. In his September 9th address to Congress, President Obama made clear that he supports the public option because it has the potential to play an essential role in holding insurance companies accountable through choice and competition.  That continues to be the President's position.  Senator Reid and his leadership team are now working to get the most effective bill possible approved by the Senate. President Obama completely supports their efforts and has full confidence they will succeed and continue the unprecedented progress that is being made in both the House and Senate. Dan Pfeiffer is Deputy Communications Director.

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