April 16, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER
Roll Call

Emanuel Reassures Democrats on Public Insurance Option

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reassured House Democrats on Tuesday night that President Barack Obama strongly backs a government-run health insurance plan, seeking to quell a firestorm among liberals upset at Emanuel’s comments in the Wall Street Journal that suggested such a plan could be delayed.

Progressive Caucus Co-Chairwoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) warned Emanuel that he would lose the caucus’ votes if the White House compromised on the issue and included a “trigger” that could delay a public insurance plan indefinitely. The trigger idea is backed by conservative Democrats but is anathema to liberals.

“We have compromised enough, and we are not going to compromise on any kind of trigger game,” Woolsey said she told Emanuel. “People clapped all over the place. We mean it, and not just progressives.”

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said he was reassured by Emanuel. “He doesn’t stand by that trigger,” Waxman said. “He said the president and his administration and he are for a public plan as one of the options.”

Waxman, who said he remains a bit rundown after a hospital stay last week, said he is feeling “very optimistic” about passing the overall health reform package.

But other Democrats said there is still work to be done to sell the plan — and the tax increases to pay for it — to the public, and said Obama needs to get more involved.

“I think the president should get out front of it,” said Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), noting that Obama is far more popular than Congress. “The issue is, on top of the bailouts and on top of the cap-and-trade and on top of the stimulus package ... if we don’t keep the American people with us, then we can’t do it.”

Scott said Obama in particular should lay out a plan for paying for the massive bill. “They have not said how much it’s going to cost and who is going to pay for it,” Scott said.

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