Obama working behind the scenes for public option?

The president is reportedly campaigning in Congress on behalf of the idea of a government-run insurer


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Alex Koppelman
October 5, 2009 6:35PM (UTC)

Progressives who want to see a public option -- a government-run health insurance provider -- included in healthcare reform haven't been particularly thrilled with President Obama or his White House. Yes, Obama's said multiple times that he supports the idea, but he and his administration have also made it clear that they don't consider it pivotal, that if the final legislation doesn't include such a plan, it won't be a dealbreaker.

Those same progressives might be a little happier now, since on Monday the Los Angeles Times reported on a backroom campaign the White House is running on behalf of the public option.

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"In the last week ... senior administration officials have been holding private meetings almost daily at the Capitol with senior Democratic staff to discuss ways to include a version of the public plan in the healthcare bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring to the Senate floor this month, according to senior Democratic congressional aides," the Times reports. "Obama has also been reaching out personally to rank-and-file Senate Democrats, telephoning more than a dozen in the last week to press for action."

Perhaps not coincidentally, last week, two senior Senate Democrats -- Reid and Iowa's Tom Harkin, who chairs a committee that's got a key role in this -- promised that the final bill will include a public option. The question, though, is what form it will take; or, really, the question is what form will attract enough votes from those members of the Senate's Democratic caucus who've been reluctant to back the proposal.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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