In an interview this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Obama White House adviser Valarie Jarrett expressed the president’s firm commitment to the public option. Jarrett said, “He’s committed to it, he’s pushing for it, and he’s absolutely committed to delivering on health care reform this year.”
Here is the video courtesy of Daily Kos TV:
In response to earlier comments by Mike Allen of Politico that the president doesn’t want the public option, Jarrett said, “No, I think the President has always said that he’s committed to the public option. Why? Because he thinks it will create competition and therefore bring down costs. He’s always said he’s open to new ideas, but at this late stage in the game, he still thinks it’s the best option. So I don’t know whether Mike Allen can actually count votes or not. A lot of people said President Obama didn’t have the votes to win, but he did. So we’ll see. He’s committed to it, he’s pushing for it, and he’s absolutely committed to delivering on health care reform this year.”
However, Jarrett hedged when asked by Joe Scarborough if the White House has the votes to pass the public option, “You know, we’ll see. I think it’s too soon to tell. All I know is that we’re going to keep pushing until the very last moment. But I think it’s important to understand why. We want to bring down the costs. Joe, there’s some states, such as Maine or Alabama, where you only have a couple of insurers, and in those states, you see that the prices are going up. And so what we want to do, on behalf of the American people and our taxpayers, is to bring down those costs so that it’s more affordable. That’s what we think the public option will do.”
I think that Obama wants the public option, but he is not willing sacrifice the passage of a healthcare bill for the public option, which means that if push comes to shove, he will drop the public option. The White House has signaled this position repeatedly over the summer. They can’t come out and say this, or their base will go ballistic, so instead they keep saying how much they like the public option, but they don’t push for it.
There are a lot of good in the healthcare reform bills besides the public option. I would hate to see all of the potential reforms lost over the sticking point of a public healthcare option. I believe that barring a public option, the best alternative is an opt in/opt out public option. I am in favor of letting each individual state decide if they want to have a public option. Let it be resolved on a state by state basis.