Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Dem Senator Denies Rahm Said Obama Ready To Nix Public Option"

Greg Sargent:
A key Democratic Senator who met with Rahm Emanuel last night is denying an explosive report saying Emanuel privately signaled the White House’s willingness to take the public option off the table to get health care reform done.
A spokesperson for Senator Kent Conrad tells me that Emanuel was making a far more general comment and was “in no way” talking about doing away with the public option.

This story has been raging since Bloomberg reported Conrad and fellow Senator Max Baucus’s claim that Emanuel had told Senators that Obama could nix the public option. Bloomberg quoted Conrad saying Emanuel and Obama are “open to alternatives” to a public plan.

Not so, says Conrad spokesperson Chris Thorne, who emails:

Conrad says Emanuel was speaking in reference to the need to overhaul the health care system as a whole — to forge compromise and get a bill to the president’s desk. It was in no way a comment on the president’s willingness to do away with a public option.

It’s also worth noting that the Bloomberg story only paraphrases Conrad’s claim. And it seems unlikely that Rahm would explicitly take the public option off the table during negotiations.

It’s true that Obama himself at the presser yesterday refused to rule out backing reform without a public option. But Emanuel was alleged to have gone considerably farther in his private conversation with Senators.

It’ll be a bit of a relief to backers of a public option that Senator Conrad is denying Emanuel ever said it.

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