July 8th, 2009
02:05 PM ET
9 years ago

Emanuel faces liberal pressure over 'trigger' comments

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel came under fire from MoveOn Tuesday.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel came under fire from MoveOn Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The president's health care reform package - which has faced resistance from conservatives who oppose a public insurance option - came under attack from liberals yesterday, with most of the fire focused on White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel's apparent suggestion in a Wall Street Journal article published Tuesday that the White House would be willing to consider a "trigger" clause on a public option - to delay full implementation of the plan if insurance companies met certain conditions on coverage and cost - drew outrage from liberal members of Congress and MoveOn.org, which has poured millions of dollars into a campaign supporting the president's health care proposal.

Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona immediately sent a letter to President Obama denouncing the idea. And MoveOn - which has launched ad campaigns in recent weeks pressuring equivocal senators to support the president's plan, and a public option - quickly turned its criticism on the White House.

"Can you call the White House switchboard and tell them you're disappointed in Chief of Staff Emanuel's comments supporting the 'trigger'?" MoveOn asked in a message sent to supporters Tuesday. The e-mail included the number for the White House switchboard. "Tell them voters want a strong public health insurance option-not half-measures like the 'trigger.'"

Within hours, the president issued a statement from Moscow that did not mention the controversy, but stressed his support for a public option. The statement did not specifically mention - or rule out - the use of a "trigger."

"I am pleased by the progress we're making on health care reform and still believe, as I've said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest," he said. "I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals."

Yesterday afternoon, Emanuel himself headed to Capitol Hill, where he heard complaints from liberal lawmakers. The idea of a trigger option is popular with conservative Democrats - but according to Roll Call, legislators the chief of staff met with yesterday told him its inclusion in a final health care package would cost the proposal their support, sinking the measure.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman said Emanuel had said what members were hoping to hear. "He doesn't stand by the trigger," Waxman told Roll Call. "He said the president and his administration and he are for a public plan as one of the options."

Filed under: Health care • President Obama • Rahm Emanuel
soundoff (280 Responses)
  1. inofritzn

    It's not a good idea.. cooler heads will prevail... moveon.org is a JOKE!!

    July 8, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  2. Johnny DC

    Color me surprised that a hispanic congressman from Arizona is overzealous for a public health care option that will likely provide much needed care opportunity for illegal hispanic immigrants from his state, who contribute no money towards the federal or state budget and are a constant drain on our resources, not to mention (often) a drain on our safety.

    Bravo, Mr. Grijalval. Well played.

    July 8, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. RR

    Is anyone else sick of billionaire George Soros and his pet project moveon.org trying to run this country?

    July 8, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. Dave

    We all know this "trigger" will not be part of the final legislation as President "Moveon.org" will not allow it. First we have the Relgious right forcing President Bush's hand on many issues, now we have the equally harmful Looney Left forcing President Obama's hand.

    Wouldn't it be nice if one day our President actually made decisions that are made with the American Public in mind – one can dream

    July 8, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. Forget health reform.....

    if we don't get a vaccine for swine flu by October, we're all in deep doo doo.

    The swine flu is out of control in areas going through winter now like Australia and Argentina......

    And if you've studied the pandemic of 1918, you'll know that death ran rampant during that winter....

    Obama needs to focus on this rather than Honduras....

    July 8, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. WaitandSeeIndie

    That tells me all I need to know. The far left and MoveOn want it. If it does pass, in any shape or form, it will be a disaster.

    July 8, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. Leo

    People like me, on the progressive left, voted for Obama. But, that was only to get rid of scum Bush and the right-wingers. We were right! Obama has sold us out. Economist Paul Krugman was right about the lack of stimulas funneling into the system, also.

    Get ready Dems. 2010 and 2012 is gonna hurt when conservatives(who scewed up this country for 8 years) gradually find their way back into power. And, all because of middle-of-the road, wishy-washy Democrats who lack backbone. People on the left are gonna make you pay!

    July 8, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. Megan Summers

    Who cares about this any more. All I know is that the Stock Market is headed back up, making everybody money. I'm so happy about this. The market took a little bit of a pullback, after being in a clear up-trend, and is headed up. The futures were up at the market's open. There will be EASY earnings comparisons to beat this Quarter. It is a great time to start investing in America again...and, to start MAKING MONEY!!!

    July 8, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. Mark

    Socialist form of health care will NEVER pass. Sorry, libs, but Americans are smarter than that.

    July 8, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  10. TomJay

    The Democrats starting their circular firing squad.

    July 8, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  11. Shawn - GA

    Blue or Red, the lies and half -truths to one another and the people of this country are never ending it apears.

    July 8, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. Carla Martin-Wood

    I supported Obama because he promised a strong universal healthcare system. The corrupt liaison among doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and health insurance companies is resulting in more lives lost than lives saved. It does us no good to be the most advanced country in the world in our science if it is not available to everyone. Healthcare has become a luxury item that only the wealthy can afford. This "trigger" idea is just falling into line with the republican philosophy of Survival of the Wealthiest. SHAME on Obama and Emanuel and any other Democrat who supports this trigger concept or even considers compromise in the most important issue before this nation today.

    July 8, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  13. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Rahm-bo has the right to his opinion. The important thing is that the President wants a public option. As for Rahm, You Don't Mess With the Zohan.

    July 8, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  14. pointofview

    Hey CNN, the economy is blowing up and we are trillions of $ in debt and you want to report on pet projects and wall to wall coverage of Palin and Jackson? Hardly a word on Cap and Trade that is heading to the senate which will further the spiral of this economy and you want to play soap opra with Palin? worthless!

    July 8, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  15. Yahbut

    I hope everybody is enjoying Chicago style politics on a national level.

    I, personally, do not want to see the government take over any more of health care than they already have.

    Also, if such a horror should come to pass then congress MUST BE MADE to join in. The members of congress and their staffs, who are actually employed by the citizens of the US , should have the lowest health care option available unless they wish to pay a lot more for their coverage.

    I do not want the government deciding which doctors I will see and when I will have surgery, if it is ever needed.

    One thing that is never mentioned is the CARE that anyone receives. It is always about the cost of everything.

    Uninsured people do receive medical care even if they do not have any insurance.

    July 8, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  16. Bill, Bloominton IL

    It is well known that MoveOn has their own agenda and it has nothing to do with whats best for the people. MoveOn has already said this is a great idea when none of the facts were known such as funding, who is eligible, who would be in charge.

    July 8, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  17. RI Moderate

    Wow. The fringe left pressuring the far left!

    July 8, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  18. changing my screen name to see if it helps getting my comments posted

    As much as I'd love to see a public, single-payor system (because if done right it's the best option for consumers because we'd be able to use our collective weight to push around insurers for the best price) it just isn't going to fly in this current day and age. Plus, it really doesn't get at the heart of the problems with the health care system.

    Fee-for-service physicians do more tests then necessary because it makes them more money. Malpractice rights are sky-high becuase people sue anytime something bad happens even if there was no negligence involved and it was unavoidable. To cover themselves physicians do ever test in the book even if not needed just so they can prevent being sued (good thing they get paid for each one too!). If we can save a live we will no matter what the cost, even if it's $500,000 to save a 99 year old man in the ICU to have him be discharged and die peacefully in his sleep two days later.

    A public option won't solve these and other problems with the system.

    July 8, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  19. Evan

    I've got an idea. Whatever form of health care plan we have, let's make sure that 1) Congress at least reads the bill before voting and 2) that all Congressmen, Senators, and the White House (Pres., VP, Staff, Cabinet Members) have to take the gov. plan.

    Probably a plan would never pass if #1 and #2 were mandatory.

    The NYT made a very good point about prostate cancer. The treatment ranges from do nothing to proton radiation therapy. The cost range is $0 to over $100,000. Which plan do you think the government would pay for?

    July 8, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  20. KBIW

    Come on liberals.....President Obama has to ensure he addresses the needs and concerns of a majority of Americans....so sometimes you will not get all that you desire nor will the moderates or conservatives....that is politics. He is not your slave, who will do what you will him to do at anytime for any cost or cause.

    July 8, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  21. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Careful Rahm, upsetting the liberal members of Congress is one thing, but upsetting George Soros and standing in his way, you could end up in a very bad way. Look what happened to Sarah Palin when she opposed his hand picked candidate, your current dear leader. Geroge has been making billions from the recession he and moveon.org (in cooperation with ACORN and the unions) caused and you are threatening these left wing nut jobs, be careful. You cannot be a true patriot and a liberal.

    July 8, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  22. larry buchas

    I'm with MoveOn on this. Americans voted for Obama to change the status quo. That means health care and energy reforms. These issues will also lead to the new jobs of the 21st century.

    Forget the Republicans. They have become the party of "NO." Grassley's comments at that Iowa town hall meeting proves that. They take their agenda from Limbaugh. Democrats need to follow its own agenda, like FDR.

    July 8, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  23. Audacious

    Now is the time to be bold and audacious. I am in favor of the health care plan that President Obama talked about during his campaign. I have a great health plan. I want to keep what I have. There are many American's that do not have a health plan at all. They should be able to select a plan to meet their needs. I for one would be willing to pay additional taxes so that everyone is covered. Stop trying to get an endorsement from Republican's. If you're for it then they're against it – PERIOD.

    July 8, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  24. No Incumbents 2010

    Ignorant liberal haters who have never run for office will never understand that politics is the "art of the possible". These far-left groups would rather sabatoge any health care reform than support a plan which can get 60 votes in the Senate. Rahm Emmanuel will not be deciding what plan members of Congress send to Obama.

    July 8, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  25. Fair is Fair

    And there you have it. Once again, the democratic party is being hijacked by the far left – just as the republican party is being hijacked by the far right.

    Once again, the democratic party will steal defeat from the jaws of victory.

    When will democrats learn that Soros is no friend of America?

    P.S. – If 72% of Americans want this so-called "public option", that would come out to 115 million people, assuming a base of 160 million over the age of 18. I want just ONE of those 115 million people to tell me ANY details of the "public option". Since you CANNOT, how is it that you know you "want" it???

    July 8, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
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