We know that Chuck isn't a progressive and more of a DLC type, but he made it pretty clear on Meet The Press that the public option will be in the final bill and that surprised me. He actually said it's essential to get the costs down. We'll see.
SEN. SCHUMER: If you don't like, you have an option of the public option, which will help bring costs down. And so it is indeed essential to getting the costs down, which is our number one problem.
MR. GREGORY: You're not backing away from it, but there is concern within the Democratic Party that President Obama is backing away. Here was the headline in the New York Post this week that spoke for a lot of liberals, actually, both publicly and privately: "Sellout! Liberals howl as Bam `caves' on the health plan." This is what the reference was to, the president's weekly radio address back in July during which he said this.(
Videotape, July 18, 2009)PRES. OBAMA: That's why any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, costs and track records of a variety of plans--including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest--and choose what's best for your family.(End videotape)
MR. GREGORY: That was July. But just a week ago the president said this.
Videotape, August 15, 2009)
PRES. OBAMA: All I'm saying is, though, that the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of healthcare reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it.(End videotape)
MR. GREGORY: You say it's essential, Senator Schumer; the president saying now it's just a sliver. He's backed away, hasn't he?
SEN. SCHUMER: I don't think he's backed away at all. I've talked to the president personally about this in the last few weeks. He believes strongly in the public option. Obviously he is working hard to get a bipartisan bill, because that would be a better bill. But I believe that at the end of the day we will have a public option. And frankly, I believe we could get a public option that could be passed with the 60 Democratic votes we had. A level playing field public option, where the public option competes on a level playing field with the insurance companies, was backed in the House by both Blue Dog Democrats and more liberal Democrats. And I think that's the direction we're going to end up in.
I know there's a lot of horse trading going on between the White House, Congress, Rahm and every other pol that can get their two cents in during the August recess, but I was surprised to hear Schumer be as supportive on the public option as he was with Gregory. Now, I'm not saying that his words are gospel, but it still was interesting that he didn't back off the public option.