Tuesday 1 September 2009

A flabby trial balloon from Obama

According to the Atlantic, Obama is expected to publicly list his deal-breakers on health care, the things he insists on including in any bill he signs. The core issue: he needs a mechanism that will increase competition, preferably a public option, but not definitely. The proposal is also vague on numbers and trigger mechanisms. The hope is to win over Democrats in Congress and give them something they can sell. Once they sell it, the public will understand the need for resorting to reconciliation.

This still sounds too vague and tentative too me: Congressmen can’t win this battle in the town halls – they need Obama to pick a plan and sell it himself. If this is a temporary trial balloon, so that when we hit the September 15 deadline for the almost-dead bipartisan process, Obama can then fling his hands in the air and say ‘well, the Republicans stonewalled, so get ready to pass the public option via reconciliation!” then so be it. But this can’t be anything close to the last word. Obama must do more than this.

Or this trial balloon could be (pardon the mixed metaphor) a big head fake. I doubt it, but I hope so.

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