The Washington Post is reporting the White House was taken off guard by the intensity of the left, and the digging in and hardening of their position on the public option.
The White House is lamenting the power of the issue for the left, and that the public option has become the litmus test to them about whether any health care reform, is real reform. Here are the key quotes from the top White House staff — note the use of the word “Waterloo,” and that the quotes have a whiff of whining as well:
“I don’t understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo,” said a senior White House adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We’ve gotten to this point where health care on the left is determined by the breadth of the public option. I don’t understand how that has become the measure of whether what we achieve is health-care reform.”
“It’s a mystifying thing,” he added. “We’re forgetting why we are in this.”
Another top aide expressed chagrin that a single element in the president’s sprawling health-care initiative has become a litmus test for whether the administration is serious about the issue.
“It took on a life of its own,” he said.
While the Post does not report it, the White House has painted itself into the proverbial corner.
And it all started when President Obama over ruled his Chief of Staff, after getting a letter from MoveOn.org urging the President not to abandon the public option. And while President Obama was overseas in Europe, he issued a statement backing the public option being in the House bill.
This is the exact point in time that politics of the Democratic party became self-destructive. This is when the wedge between those on the left-wing of the party, and those opposed to the public option began to drift apart. This wedge grew when Howard Dean and President Obama’s campaign operation began running ads against their own Democratic House members in their districts.
Given the overwhelming negative reaction from the public to the Obamacare plan in general, and the public option specifically, it may be that the White House can not get out of this corner. Time will tell.
One way to tell is if the U.S. House does not have a vote — if the U.S. House decides to wait for the U.S. Senate. This will mean only one thing: the Democrats in the House do not want to take another risky vote (in addition to cap and trade) and it also means that the House leadership does not have the votes to pass the bill.
The fact that the House did not have a vote on the House floor prior to the August recess, was because Speaker Pelosi did not have the votes.
So, just to recap, if the House announces they will wait until the Senate votes, what they are really saying is they do not have the votes to pass Obamacare on the House floor.
Add to this a possible left wing-Blue Dog House Democrat consensus to wait on a vote, because there is no agreement on what to vote on or because both sides know the Democrats do not have the votes, and you have the makings of the politics of no vote at all.
Add to the left’s generally bad attitude the fact that they will be forced to back the Phrma no drug reimportation deal made by the White House (in return for Phrma running millions of dollars of TV ads through the firms that ran Obama’s campaign ads) and well, you have some fairly grumpy Democratic House Reps.
And if you ask the Democratic campaign operatives and the professional class of campaign managers and staff and consultants, they will urge no vote, too.