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Tonight: Obama Supports Public Option, But Other Reforms Are More Important

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That’s supposedly the takeaway from the prime time address to Congress, and I think it’s the right message to send. The public option has been the sticking point for nearly everybody. On the right it was tantamount to socialism. On the left, any modification of the plan was considered weak and worthy of scorn. So it’s time for it to get seriously scaled back or discarded altogether.

So what we’ll hear tonight is Obama trying to reset what a “public option” means so that his White House can go with a localized version (aka co-ops) that only happens if universal coverage doesn’t happen in a state. Basically, they’re telling insurance companies to find a way (via private competition) to get everybody covered without preexisting condition clauses or the government is going to come in and fill the gap. To me, that’s a great deal for Republicans who are serious about reform and Democrats who are realistic about what can get passed.

Here’s what Obama said this morning about the speech…

Acknowledging a flawed opening strategy, Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts in an interview aired on “Good Morning America”: “I, out of an effort to give Congress the ability to do their thing and not step on their toes, probably left too much ambiguity out there, which allowed then opponents of reform to come in and to fill up the airwaves with a lot of nonsense ….

“So, the intent of the speech .. is to … make sure that the American people are clear exactly what it is that we are proposing … to make sure that Democrats and Republicans understand that I’m open to new ideas, that we’re not being rigid and ideological about this thing, but we do intend to get something done this year. And … to dispel some of the myths and, frankly, silliness that’s been floating out there for quite some time.”

Translation: I didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of Bill and Hillary, so I let Democrats take this legislative ball and run with it. However, they sprinted right into a wall because they were so tied to the idea of centralized public entity providing health federally subsidized health care. Meanwhile, Republicans were spreading a lot of misinformation and it actually caught on. So, I’m coming back into this thing and working out a compromise between the two parties that can actually pass with 60 votes. In short, I got this.

We shall see.