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 Emanuels 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 doesnt 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 dont keep the American people with us, then we cant do it.
Scott said Obama in particular should lay out a plan for paying for the massive bill. They have not said how much its going to cost and who is going to pay for it, Scott said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.