In case progressives were beginning to feel as if the Obama administration doesn’t really care what they think, they can rest assured: the White House hears them loud and clear. It just doesn’t like the message.
“I don’t understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo,” an anonymous senior White House adviser tells the Washington Post. “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.”
That’s probably not a characterization–“left of the left”–liberals would have chosen for more than five dozen members of the Democratic caucus. And it doesn’t exactly inspire faith that the White House sees the public option as more than a sliver of reform. But it also doesn’t suggest they’re expecting House progressives to fold.
And, in a bit of good news for progressives, it comes just as White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel–who could even be the Post‘s anonymous official–tells the New York Times that the GOP “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.”
If health care bipartisanship is dead or dying, then the public option suddenly loses much (though certainly not all) of its political volatility.