July 8th, 2009
02:05 PM ET
5 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. Doug, New Jersey

    As long as liberal Democrats can be convinced that older Americans who have busted their butts their whole lives, who have never asked for a thing from anyone, who have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, who have made a positive impact on society each day of their lives are denied a life threatining treatment while a younger taker lib who foams with anger about how someone else's money belongs to him gets to fake an illness to get free drugs, the libs will unite in their hate based anti-America so called health care legislation.

    Lib finds joy in thier enemy (hard working conservative Americans) being denied care that will allow them to live that could pay for the care they need today.

    July 8, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  2. Mary

    Health Care should start at home, eating healthy - stop the high fructose corn syrup in everything !! Exercise more - stop smoking.
    It's deplorable that everyone has the idea that they can do whatever they want and someone else is going to fix them. Time for everyone to take a short course on nutition and start taking better care of themselves - right down to drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. NONE of us have such deep pockets that we can indiscriminately throw money at the health care industry - By the way, why is it called the 'health care industry'? Because profits are now the motive - they figure everyone including our governments will pay whatever they propose - to 'try' and get someone back on track healthwise. Well, we can't aford that philosphy anymore - everyone MUST start taking control of their own eating habits which translate to health ! Used to be, it was the 'healthcare profession', my how times have changed.

    July 8, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. wally

    who cares what these clowns think. moveon.org and the others are not the voice of mainstream america. surly the obama administration knows that.

    July 8, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. Carole

    Good! Why the heck are they worried about what the Rethugs think. When Bush was in he shoved the Iraq war. Paulson gave our money to the banks for free and no accountability to this day. You give the Rethugs the power they are like drunken sailors gone wild.

    Some things are not bi-partisan. Republicans do not care if poor people have health care. They just care if rich get tax breaks.

    I think ALL lawmakers, Congress, Senate and House, should decline from taking social security monies they have not paid into.

    July 8, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  5. Melissa

    I'm with the liberals on this one. No delaying. No pandering to the rich and greedy. Not anymore. Just fix it. With or without Republican agreement.

    July 8, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  6. JB

    IF "certain conditions were met on cost and coverage". . . . . who cares how they get to those costs and coverage goals. If they can do it without the pubic option, then great. But no, that would not further the goals of the DEMS. . . .ALL THINGS CONTROLLED BY BIG BROTHER.

    July 8, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  7. Ron

    I wonder how all of you Dems will blame the Republicans for this one?

    July 8, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  8. Randall in Torrance - Desert Storm Veteran

    Enough. Pass Health Care reform NOW while we have 60 Democrat Senators. To hell with any crticism from the right. America's families and uninsured children MUST have health coverage TODAY. This has been debated enough and the right wing rich arseholes are going to delay this until Sarah returns from Alaska's wilderness where she is currently humping Sasquatch. Viva la Revolucion. Obama-Biden 2012. Palin August Playboy centerfold.

    July 8, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. Mark - Berwyn, PA

    Liberal Congressmen need to move to Europe if they think public health care is so great. I would venture to guess that none, ZERO, of these liberal Congressmen would ever "lower themselves" to put their families on such a healthcare plan.

    This Congress, and this Administration, are a farse and need to leave quickly. It cannot happen soon enough.

    God Bless America!!!

    July 8, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  10. windrider

    The goal of the health care program is to provide affordable health care insurance to as many Americans as possible. If insurance companies make the necessary changes in coverage and cost, so that goal is met, then what's the beef? Of course I'm suspicious of the insurance companies who put greed and excessive CEO salaries above all else. And some kind of public option is going to be necessary if America is going to climb out of the basement and into the world of modern democracies with respect to providing health care for its citizens. But if the private sector can be harnessed to provide more help in achieving the goal of the program, so much the better.

    July 8, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  11. Hugo

    You want to fix health care? TORT LAW REFORM, TORT LAW REFORM, TORT LAW REFORM, TORT LAW REFORM, TORT LAW REFORM, TORT LAW REFORM. Regulate lawyers not health care!! Lawyers and the leftist courts are a leading factor in why every other industry in America has had to increase their costs to cover every conceivable liability clause that a lawyer can dream up to take your earnings. If you don't think so, why are there 10 lawyers for every engineer or doctor graduating from our Universities? Why is our government promulgating new laws to cover existing laws that they don't enforce? Clean them all out in 2010 and 2012!

    July 8, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  12. Randy

    If Obama can't get a public health option for the American public his presidency will be a complete failure. He has a mandate to establish public health insurance but it seems once again the wealthy insurance companies are going to bribe the government officials to continue the financial rape of the American public by big business. We didn't vote for change "Lite".

    July 8, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  13. jim

    Here's a comment for all the senators and representatives 48 states now are having trouble paying bills. Not one senator or representative in Congress is thinking of the people everything they want to do will increase taxes on the people, raise energy rates, wake up Senators stop playing politics and pay attention to what your politics are doing to the Country and The People enough is enough it is time to ..SAY NO TO THE SPENDING FOR A CHANGE.. IT MIGHT FEEL GOOD....as Layoffs continue .. revenues decrease.......

    But based upon this story I guess the only people that matter are lobbyist with contributions to the parties

    July 8, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  14. Cowboy in West Texas

    I think we are a long way from a national health care system – the more talk and discussion the better – lets talk it out and talk it long enough to get it right!

    July 8, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  15. jaye

    We need healthcare for everybody – not just the wealthy.
    Millions of people lost their jobs and now have no healthcare at all.

    The republican politicians could care less about health coverage for anybody....they already have good coverage from the government.
    They would rather start wars than spend money on Americans well being.
    The republicans are nazis.

    July 8, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  16. tess

    we can only hope that a majority of democrats have finally realized that move-on is anti-american and that to be associated with them is to risk losing their seats in congress! americans are waking up to soro's socialist, communist policies – he should be deported and/or tried for treason against america! the sooner that horrible man is totally exposed for who and what he is the better off we all will be – especially the fools in politics who have followed him -----

    July 8, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  17. Wm Scot Ellis Tacoma Washington

    We voted the President into office with a clear understanding we would have a national healthcare provsion in place for everyone. To let the drug companies and insurance companies still run the health care system is not in the best interests of this country or what we voted for.

    July 8, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  18. SPJ

    If the gov wants to ensure medical access to the uninsured, including illegal immigrants, then let the gov open up gov clinics where the uninsured may go. But please, leave the rest of us alone.

    July 8, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  19. Fidel

    The US Chamber of Commerce contributes more money to defeat health care reform than even the insurance providers. Clearly, it is business vs the rest of us. Small business is not excluded from this anti populist position.They are members of the same organizations and therefore guilty of the same atrocities.Buy nothing from these businesses.Check your local Chamber of Commerce web site for a list of members to boycott.

    July 8, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  20. ken in cal

    the public option is the only way to let the health care industry know that the american people are tired of the foot dragging incompetence and political b.s. while their family members have all the coverage they will ever need and the rest of us cant afford it or its not available or it is available but denied by the plan which did not cover everything in the first place but they still take our money just like the mortgage companies now they want buy the rule book and change in their favor both the democrats and gop are for sale on this matter and we should see what health care companies are spending on their contributions then lets see where the votes fall and fire them all
    TIME LIMITS TIME LIMITS TIME LIMITS

    July 8, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  21. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    What really amazes me is that Republicans stand lock-step in passing everything they want. They have done it for years. The got us into a war without provication, taxed the poor and middle class over the rich, promote big business over small. Why can't the democrats stand in lock-step for us. We voted for this in Nov. Most democratic Senate members got their seat due to President Obamas win.

    I know my Senator Nelson here in Florida will be on the fence until he says no in the end. I wish he would realize that there is huge support for a public option. There will be a huge grassroots (President Obama's grassroots movement) to get him elected again if he would just vote for the public option.

    July 8, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  22. Glenn

    Progressive democrats who argue against the "trigger" may be losing sight of the goals of the proposed legislation. The goal is not a public option, but affordable health care. If the market can produce what the people need, which then implaments the trigger, aren't we getting what we want without government involvement in the private sector?

    July 8, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  23. lynn in NM

    It's not a good idea to upset your own party. The votes will still be there, but it's not a good idea.

    July 8, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  24. Dan, TX

    Liberals ought to be getting people to write their congressional representatives, not just complaining to the president. Congress writes laws, remember?

    July 8, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. Larry Craig

    At least Democrats have the courage to challenge their party,unlike the republicans who votes are almost ALWAYS partisan.
    The cowards.

    July 8, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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