White House Trying to Pave the Way for Triggers with Outside Groups

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September 23, 2009 1:18 p.m.

A post at the website Open Left by Mike Lux tells a troubling story for progressives.

“Some senior White House staffers are now beginning to try to sell this trigger to progressive groups as the compromise version of a public option, saying the White House doesn’t want to have a floor fight in the Senate, and that they can always fix it in conference committee,” Lux writes.

That way they can pick up Snowe, satisfy that desperate urge for being officially bipartisan (even though Snowe can’t bring a single other Republican with her), and not have to worry about procedural hassles in the Senate.

Lux is a former staffer for President Bill Clinton, and worked for the Obama transition team–not necessarily the first person you’d imagine warning of “an ugly fight within the Democratic Party, further erosion of Obama’s standing with his base, the specter of more primary fights.”

Off the record interviews and emails with reform leaders resulted in no denials, and two confirmations that Lux’s account is correct.And Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future told Greg Sargent that, more generally, “[i]t appears to me that the White House is not trying for any other strategy accept [sic] to satisfy Snowe with her version of the trigger.”

Progressives on Capitol Hill thus far tell a different story. They say they haven’t been approached by the White House in this way (at least not yet) and they remain committed to the proposition that Snowe’s trigger proposal will not win their votes.

This isn’t the first time that the White House has approached progressive groups to seek their acquiescence on triggers. But the timing of this gambit is pretty interesting. The process is much farther along, and Snowe’s vote–first in committee, and then on the Senate floor–are approaching quickly. But so is the arrival of the 60th member of the Democratic caucus, and that should, in theory, diminish the importance of winning Snowe, and endorsing triggers.

I’ve been warned, as is common, that the situation is very fluid and could change, so I’ll report back if and when I hear more.

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