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Friday night, Rep. Keith Ellison appeared on TPT’s Almanac. During his appearance, he said something that I don’t think President Obama wants public. Here’s a partial transcript of the crucial part of the interview:

Kathy Wurzer: Politics is the art of compromise.
Rep. Ellison: It is.
WURZER: So how are you all gonna compromise?
REP. ELLISON: Most of us are co-authors of HR676, which is a single-payer bill so we feel like we’ve already compromised. I think that the reality is the public option has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as saving $150 billion, so this actually helps deal with the fiscal responsibility issues…It offers choice, which is a good thing…
Eric Eskola: Isn’t the public option really just a step towards the single-payer system that you want so much?
REP. ELLISON: Yes but the reality is that for many people that’s not what it is.

OOPS!!! That last sentence says everything. Rep. Ellison admitted that the public option is just a step to getting a single-payer system. He then compounds that mistake by saying that people don’t view the public option the way he views it. Admitting those two things during a TV interview, especially after saying he’d participated in a conference call earlier in the day with President Obama and the Progressive Caucus, is a major mistake. (I suspect he’ll start backtracking on that statement the minute he hears that he’s been caught.)

The biggest problem for President Obama is that he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. If he says that he’s for a public option, he’s admitting that he prefers a single-payer system. He can’t credibly say that he doesn’t know that members of the Progressive Caucus see the public option as an intermediate step to a single-payer plan.

Likewise, President Obama can’t abandon the Progressive Caucus outright because that’s a big litmus test for Netroots nation. Dumping them is fraught with political dangers for 2010.

The bottom line is this: President Obama has a serious problem selling his health care plan because people see it as a government takeover of the health care system. Rep. Ellison just confirmed that to the people.

That’s a bell you can’t unring.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

7 Responses to “Did Rep. Ellison’s Loose Lips Sink Obama’s Ship?”

  • Of course they want a singlepayer system, thought Congress will save themselves a Cadillac plan.

    The so called public option (which isn’t an option, if they force the uninsured to buy insurance) will be subsidized by private insurance, the same way Medicare and Medicaid are.

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