Posted by Curt on 3 September, 2009 at 11:26 am. 7 comments already!

Obama and friends are taking a play from the Hillary Clinton playbook….proposing a “trigger” Socialist takeover of health care instead of a single payer system from the start:

My colleague Dana Bash and I have learned from a source, each one of us, that this White House right now is very quietly in serious conversations with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, a key moderate.

She is basically the last Republican out of those gang of six senators who have been negotiating, really the last Republican that has an open line to this White House right now.

What we’re hearing that she’s talking about with White House staff is sort of a scaled-back bill that would focus on insurance reforms that both sides could agree to, but would not have a full public option, instead, would have a so-called trigger. What that means in layman’s terms is basically that the insurance companies would have a couple of years to make some dramatic changes.

If they do not make those changes, then a public option would be triggered. So, it would be used down the road. They would hope that this would appease liberals by saying it’s not completely off the table. And the big hope is that this could bring along another moderate Republican, like maybe Susan Collins of Maine, some conservative Democrats, like Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu in the Senate, who don’t want a public option, but would sort of potentially be open to a trigger like this.

Nancy is saying no way:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is firmly committed to passing a comprehensive healthcare reform bill with a public insurance option despite signals from top White House aides that the president may forge another path to gain bipartisan approval. “We can’t pass a bill without a public option,” Pelosi told reporters after speaking at a healthcare event hosted by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce in her home district.

Which means there is no coincidence that Obama will host the two nimrods of Congress just before his speech next week:

And I’m also told that next Tuesday afternoon, the president, the day before the speech, is going to host Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid here at the White House Tuesday afternoon to kind of run through the final details with them.

Yup…he will lay down his backdoor plan and they will go along with it. No question about it. But Karl at Protein Wisdom thinks there could be a silver lining in this new tactic:

Sen. Snowe has pushing the notion of a “public option with trigger” for months, and it has been the Left expressing dismay over the idea. True believers like Robert Reich say Snowe is fronting for Big Pharma and health insurers, with conditions that would be easily met by other pieces of the emerging legislation. Rahm Emanuel has been floating the trigger idea since January, again to the dismay of lefty groups like MoveOn. The left notes that congressional Republicans crafted a similar trigger for the Medicare prescription-drug benefit in 2003 — and it has never been triggered. For the left, the “public option” deferred is the “public option” denied.

However, it is a proposal that serves the administration’s interests. Pres. Obama reportedly would like not only to pass a takeover of health insurance based on an individual mandate, but also to get back some of the post-partisan image he had as a candidate. Some administration officials welcome a showdown with the left wing of the party to achieve these goals. The maneuver would also lure Blue Dog Democrats to the bill — and many Blue Dogs still expect to pass some healthcare reform bill.

This tactic carries its own measure of risks for the administration. The first risk is that the progressives continue to balk and refuse to vote for a final bill with a trigger. This seems unlikely, but most of them are from safe seats and plan to hold those seats long after the Obama presidency, so there could be some rebellion at the margin.

The second (and larger) risk is that a proposal designed to grab the center holds only a handful of votes. That is what happened in the dying days of HillaryCare in 1994. Those proposals never made it to any sort of vote.

The third risk is that whatever momentum is left for ObamaCare rests on the notion that politically, failure is not an option on healthcare reform. The theory that Democrats in swing districts are better off voting for an unpopular takeover of one-sixth of the economy has always seemed counter-intuitve. Now, Sean Trende has done a regression analysis of the 1994 midterm election showing that holding all other things equal, had Democrats gone ahead and passed HillaryCare, their losses likely would have been even greater than they were.

Myself, this is all a move by Obama to shore up his falling numbers. Like Bill Clinton, he will sway in the political wind, saying and doing whatever it takes to be liked. We knew the man had no convictions long before he was elected and this just proves it. Remember this?

And I think this will end up biting him in the ass. Moderates and independents are leaving his side, and if he back-peddles on the public option the left will start to leave also.

Either way, we cannot afford to let our guard down. These “triggers” will probably be so easy to trip that the public option will become a reality anyways…

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