Strength + Weakness Signaled From Obama On Health Care

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We're getting mixed signals from the President, both in a positive and negative position.

For now, White House officials said, Mr. Obama remains committed to the goal of insuring all Americans and still prefers to foster competition for insurance companies by creating a new government insurance program, or public option.

White House officials are combing the versions of health care legislation approved by four of the five Congressional committees with jurisdiction on the issue, both to find common ground and to jettison provisions — some relatively minor — that have drawn fire from critics on the political right.

Bully to keeping the public option, but the President needs to move from saying he'd like to have it in the bill versus saying it's got to be in the bill. That's not a subtle distinction, but its one he hasn't made. For whatever the White House thinks they may gain among conservative Dems and a random GOPer or two (probably none), the bottom is liable to fall out of the entire thing among the base. If the White House gives up on the public option they're telling the base to stay home next year and possibly giving up the House.

The second sign is even troubling. And I don't get it. I'm okay with bipartisan horsetrading on the edges of issues if it means getting some people on the other side on board. The GOP is not going to budge on health care reform. All the current legislation already concedes more than enough to the right, and they won't vote for it anyway. It's almost like the Herschel Walker or Ricky Williams trades - but without Herschel Walker or Ricky Williams!