September 3, 2009

The news has been fast and furious as we approach Labor Day with media outlets trying to out-do each other with "breaking news stories" about what President Obama will or will not support in the health care fight as we enter the the final few innings of this debate.

Administration officials said Wednesday that Mr. Obama would be more specific than he has been to date about what he wants included in the plan. Doing so amounts to an acknowledgment that the president’s prior tactic of laying out broad principles and leaving Congress to fill in the details was no longer working and that Mr. Obama needed to become more personally involved in shaping the outcome.But the officials said Mr. Obama was unlikely to unveil a detailed legislative plan of his own. And they insisted that Mr. Obama had not given up on the provision that has attracted the most fire from the right, a proposal for a government-run competitor to private insurers, although many Democrats say the proposal may eventually be jettisoned.


For now, White House officials said, Mr. Obama remains committed to the goal of insuring all Americans and still prefers to foster competition for insurance companies by creating a new government insurance program, or public option.

Chuck Todd said on MSNBC that the White House was only going to support the Baucus Dogs:

...what Chuck Todd thinks, he just said unequivocally on Andrea Mitchell that the Finance Committee bill is Obama's preferred bill, that it is being done with the cooperation of the White House, and that once it is released, Obama will do everything in his power to pass that bill.

The Politico said that Obama was not backing the public option.

We have been saying all along that the most important part of this debate is not the public option, but rather ensuring choice and competition,” an aide said. “There are lots of different ways to get there.”

And Ed Henry on CNN said yesterday in their big breaking story that the White House was negotiating to get a Snowe job.

Ed Henry: My colleague Dana Bash and I have learned from a source, each one of us, that this White House right now is very quietly in serious conversations with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, a key moderate.

She is basically the last Republican out of those gang of six senators who have been negotiating, really the last Republican that has an open line to this White House right now.

What we're hearing that she's talking about with White House staff is sort of a scaled-back bill that would focus on insurance reforms that both sides could agree to, but would not have a full public option, instead, would have a so-called trigger. What that means in layman's terms is basically that the insurance companies would have a couple of years to make some dramatic changes.

If they do not make those changes, then a public option would be triggered. So, it would be used down the road. They would hope that this would appease liberals by saying it's not completely off the table. And the big hope is that this could bring along another moderate Republican, like maybe Susan Collins of Maine, some conservative Democrats, like Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu in the Senate, who don't want a public option, but would sort of potentially be open to a trigger like this.

Basically we still don't know what's actually going to happen until the president takes the stage and speaks to the nation and then even after that, the Baucus Dogs still have to release their bill. And then we move on to the next step in the process. This is a massive clusterf*&k, but getting any type of health care reform passed was never going to be easy. We all knew it, I just thought Axelrod's team would have handled it better from the start.

OK, what's the next big breaking story and what will it contradict? I can just see a bunch of WH aides jotting down suggestions and putting them in a shoe box. When a reporter comes sniffing around, they take turns pulling out a piece of paper from the box and passing along their tip. Repeat as often as necessary. Then at night, all the aides go to the bar, get hammered and laugh as it appears in the news.

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