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. Kevin in Ohio

    Left-wing loons are never happy with anything it seems..... its their way or nothing because they financed the election of this administartion. That sounds like corruption to me. Conservatives are accused of not giving this president a chance by the very same left-wingers.... the moment that his administration actually says anything that might be the least bit acceptable to us, he is attacked. Do we need any more proof of the ultimate goal of the left-wing??????

    July 8, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. Enlightened Voter

    Wish we could model after Canada's health care system, theirs is awesome. Ask any Canadian and they will tell you they receive top care. Don't listen to the GOP, they lie. They just don't want a public option because it will mean their Insurance buddies will have competition and won't be able to rape our insurance any more.

    July 8, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. Terry from Texas

    The goal of America's health care system is to produce a healthy population. To the extent that preventable health problems occur and medical conditions go untreated, the system is failing.

    America's health care industry believes that the purpose of the system is to enrich themselves. They do not consider the health and well being of their patients, only of their stock holders. My health insurance is provided by my employer. My insurance company tells me what doctors I can go to and what medication I can take. Yours does too.

    My neighbor is a working mom with a child. She was layed off from her retail management job and is now working as a shop clerk while looking for a better position. Her new employer does not provide insurance. She had breast cancer five years ago and no insurance company will touch her. Her insurance comes from the Texas Assigned Risk Pool, and it costs her about $400 a month. It has a $5,000 deductible and no dental coverage. Think about that the next time you buy a dress from a smiling, helpful shop girl.

    I believe that we must have a federal option OR we must regulate the insurance industry very stringently, like we do the airline industry.

    July 8, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. elizabeth

    we will not get healthcare reform while the insurance companies dictate what happens in washington, ever

    July 8, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  5. Peter E

    Exactly what's the purpose of this 'trigger' option? The GOP will still harp about how government shouldn't even impose conditions on the health companies. The compromise is completely useless anyway.

    July 8, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  6. matt

    This tells me that the WH is willing to compromise on the public option in order to gain bipartisan support. The conservatives are against a public option. The use of the "trigger" would force health insurance companies to meet certain cost and coverage levels. If those levels are met, then why do we need a public option? The entire issue behind healthcare reform is lowering the costs so that all people can afford coverage. The most obvious way to make the insurance companies more competitive is the public option. However, if you can use the public option as a carrot to bring down cost and increase coverage, why wouldn't you try that as well?

    July 8, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Melissa

    I am outraged regarding the "whimpy" wing of the Democratic party. If the Dems do not get a backbone and stick up for what is right, they are going to go limping and whimping out of office in 2010. We were promised health care reform. We do not want a water downed version . We need a public plan.

    July 8, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. Terik Ororke

    Every American should have the same health care benefits as every member of Congress. Anything less is totally unacceptable. It is also time to get the Health Care Industry off the backs of the American people who they are slowly bankrupting.

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

    Who cares? What I don't understand is why in any way shape or form I should be forced to pay for the health care of others. I take responsibility for my own life and actions, I refuse to shell out cash to pay the freight for those who are too lazy or irresponsible to manage their own lives and health.

    July 8, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  10. Peter E

    Fun fact: Americans spend over $2 trillion every year on America's privatized health care and insurance. About 30% of that money is going to bureaucracy, which is a larger percentage than for nearly all US governement programs.

    July 8, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  11. Dave

    Let's all be realistic here. Nationalized Health Care has been put on the table since the Franklin Roosevelt Administration. It has been pulled off the table each time it has been put there because of lobbying (bribing) by Health and Insurance lobbyists. Our Senators and every individual in our so called "government" are all for sale. Someone has gotten to the deciders and Emanuel with enough money or threats and the idea has been bought off again...just like it will always be bought off by the slimes in industry...same ol same old
    what a surprise

    July 8, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  12. Millie Bea

    Mr. Emanuel's comment was a perfectly reasonable option to consider. We need to find a solution that fixes the problem, not just throws money at it. The Democrats would have more of a leg to stand on if they had gotten the fraud out of Medicare and made the VA medical system state of the art. This would be proof to Americans that the government is capable of running a health care system that delivers service and doen't cost more than it is worth.

    July 8, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  13. curious

    Why doesn't CNN provide its readers with a simple overview of the plan that all federal employees currently enjoy? The actual premium costs (with the ratio that the employer (we taxpayers....) and the employee pays), and the scope of the benefits. It would likely be a good thing for constituents to understand prior to their elected officials time at home during the summer recess.

    I believe that adopting that plan as the "public plan" would be beneficial to all, except perhaps those politicians who are supported by the health care industry, and would keep the federal government out of the business of running health insurance.

    Why is it being kept out of the public eye?

    July 8, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  14. Bertina

    If people don't realize compromise may be the only way then they are asking for failure.

    July 8, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. vince

    I believe the 'Public Option" is a good idea. How its structured is very debateable, maybe not for profit insurance companies can administer the program. (I believe Japan uses not for profit insurance to cover all its citizens).

    Consumers should have to pay a fee to buy into the public option just like they do for private insurance. I also believe that co-pays for visits and prescription drugs should still come out of patients pockets.

    Primary doctors should be compensated better since this is where you get the most bang for the buck. Specialist should be be compensated a bit less since these specialists have been driving up the cost.

    July 8, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  16. Voter

    Obama and Company are going to give us a watered-down health care plan that will serve few and be paid for by all of us.

    I bet people wish now – decades later, that they didn't let the insurance companies push them around when Hillary tried to give us a GOOD plan.

    Oh, well, you're second mistake was voting in this all-things-to-all-men chameleon, Barack Obama. What a phony! And you bought it, people, hook, line and sinker.

    We could have had Hillary. We could have had it all.

    July 8, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  17. Brian

    Gotta remember, a compromising bi-partisan bill requires compromise from both sides. I don't forsee the Dems being able to get everything they want without leaving a very sour taste in a lot of peoples mouths.

    July 8, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  18. Joe

    Can someone please politely tell these folks to WAKE UP and Focus on Fixing the ECONOMY! We can socially reengineer America next year.

    July 8, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  19. Think

    Military tribunals, privatizing public schools, non-release of photos, flaking on health insurance, and the protection of Bush administration officials...the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    July 8, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  20. Ken

    So I guess the idea of the government health plan to make insurance companies compete is not actually part of the plan. Because, the "trigger' would only happen if insurance companies met those type of conditions.

    July 8, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  21. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Let's get our priorities straight! The only reason republicans oppose the public option is because it will drive down prices and cut into the profit margins of private companies. Excuse me, why is my health for profit in the first place? If health giants can't figure out a way to be competitive in prices then they are useless! Did you know that Americans spend twice as much on health insurance and care per person than any other country in the world, and yet there are plenty of other countries with public health care that have the same, or better life expectancy! If private companies are so smart, why couldn't they figure out a way to compete with that? Oh right, they lobby congress to NEVER provide competition so that they can take huge profits! That's why our health care is so expensive, because it's for greed!

    July 8, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  22. Joanna in PA

    I love Rahm. But we need a public plan or else nothing will ever change. This is the time, now or never. I vote for now. Once and for all let us get this done. There is NO reason me at 33 and healthy should pay 450 per month for coverage. My sister can not get any coverage at all. She works, but she has changed employers and has a small per existing condition. She is 29. They quoted her 850 per month. That is insane!!!! There are tests i know i need to get done, but can not. I have an appointment in Sept to see a specialist. It is now July. That is not acceptable!! The cost up front may be more, but over time it will be much lower and our care will be much better.

    July 8, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  23. Chris D.

    DEMS.......hold steady, and get this plan together........ The naysayers who've been adamant since January, and the oil salesmen who are selling independents in America, the quick fix mantra on the economy after only six and a half months, are ratcheting up their attacks......this is no time for the weak.......the bills on healthcare, energy, and regulation, that need to pass through congress, are good ideas.....we've had no real domestic agenda, for 10 years......our "free market" is to blame for the crter in the economy, yet we think running back to them in full swing will restore prosperity........The GOP, which now cries restraint, and anti government rhetoric, showed no restaint for years.......They gave bad ideas to America for years.......They justified the house of cards.....and didn't know that it was falling until it fell. The GOP hates government but wants the gov. power back badly......I for one do not trust them, and I still trust the DEMS.......We Americans need to cut w/ the instant gratification, and the tearing down of an infant admin.....and have some patience!!!!!!
    Really and truly......

    July 8, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  24. Jean Quinlan

    Public option should be the ONLY option – HR676 is the right answer and we who voted for President Obama are angry that this is not even being given consideration. It should be submitted for costing by the CBO as the other so-called "reform" plans have been. I feel, no doubt many others do also, that we are being sold down the river by Congress at the behest of lobbyists for big pharma and the health insurance industry – AGAIN! Are these our elected representatives? Or are they just lining their campaign pockets once more – guess which is correct. I'm mad and disappointed at how this is going.

    July 8, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  25. audacity of a dope

    Wow....I guess we see who is running the country Moveon.org. Wait untill ACORN complains then it is really on

    July 8, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
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