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. Richie

    We need a single payer system. That is the only way to eliminate the 35% overhead we are currently suffering from. Why aren't we doing this? Because the politicians are in the health industry's pocket. And for you guys that say you don't want a government bureaucrat deciding on your health care - why are they worse than the insurance company bureaucrat you have now, who is motivated purely by profit?

    July 8, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  2. Joanna in PA

    To add, lets stop the corn funding. Our animals shouldn't be eating it and it is bad for our environment. We need to change the food we eat, It is all Fat and salt, no real nutrition. Everything is per packaged, the fruit is injected with coloring to make it look healthy. think about it... Everything is mass produced, nothing can really grow to its full potential due to the fact that there are so many people to feed. We need better food, not sick drugged up animals that are on deaths door than get put on our plates. Our children eat this stuff!

    July 8, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. Robin

    Interesting. Even his own are turning on him.

    July 8, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. RealityKing

    I pay $3200 a year for a family plan, including dental. Liberals obviously just don't care about the pain they are forcing onto middle America.

    July 8, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. gl, From Pittsburgh

    "Tell them voters want a strong public health insurance option-not half-measures like the 'trigger.'"

    It is time the President act like he is in charge and give us a strong public health insurance not some have baked one throwing down our thoarts. President Obama you have allow this so called partian to high jack the stimulus bill with giving us taxes payers less money then you promise and look what it got you. Republicans have proving time after time they want you to fail so they will go against any thing you propose or try to slow it down and they are doing a great job at slowing you down and making you look like a failure. You have votes to give us a good pubic health insurace instead of a half baked one they will only make you and your Administration look like you are letting the people that voting you in down to get bipartian votes.

    July 8, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  6. Rudolph

    Any improvements to health care must rely on a strong economic condition. People with marketable skills must be able to find decent paying jobs and buy private insurance. The governments role should be to first ensure that American business can compete globally and secondly, ensure many choices in a healthy comepetitive private insurance market.
    Obama, Move On and others have no concern for American competetiveness or a long term sustainable economy. Their goal is a grossly expanded government where the productive elements are raped and redistribution fuels an ever growing cancerous Federal bueracracy. We've seen it before and now we see it first hand in California. This is the Move-On future.

    July 8, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. katiec

    Way to go!! We who support the public option need to speak out loud and clear.
    There is a White House comment line, 202-456-1111 (be prepared to be on hold) that you can call stating your discontent. Asked one of the people what was done with the comments and he said were sorted etc, put in subject categories and given to the president.
    Also continue to e mail, call your sentators (ussenators.com)
    The house is not that user friendly for us. Very limited on who
    you can contact.
    It is so important to us that we not allow the politicans ruin Health
    Care Reform.

    July 8, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. Dean

    It appears that the liberal faction is not going to be happy until the government controls every single thing in this country. Unless Americans wake up, we are going to soon be a second world country with a one class economy. Lower middle class with everyone being the same.

    July 8, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. Duke

    If we don't cut out the middle man ( crook insurance companys ) nothing will change. We will still have high cost of insurance, the poor will have poor care and the rich will have it all. We don't need insurance companies dealing with the medical profession to allow them to give cut rates for the insurance company and extreme rates to those that have no insurance. Let the government pay for Doctors schooling with an agreement to work for the goverment 10 years at a reasonable rate. That would stop the rip off doctors and medical facilities charging extreem prices and give competition to those doctors that choose to gouge their customers. No insurance companies and regulate charges by the medical profession. A health care package could work. Not if we have to line everyones pockets though. Get rid of the greedy.

    July 8, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  10. phil

    I think the goverment made a huge mistake bailing out banks,creditcard company's , I T hink they should of gave every american 500,000 to restart economy.Pay off the bills house note's do whatever the middle class keep's taking a beating.We can't get ahead what so ever all these ceo's make me sick!!!! we all NEED MONEY TO SURVIVE KNOW THERE TALKING ABOUT SECOND STIMULUS who is doing the math here? GIVING THE MONEY TO THE WRONG PEOPLE AMERICAN PEOPLE WORK VERY HARD FOR THERE MONEY WE SHOULD BE AWARDED THAT STIMULUS BEFORE THE BIG CORP'S THEY LOST IT THERE MONEY LET THEM CRAWL THERE WAY OUT. EVERYDAY WE ARE TAKEN MORE HIT'S WERE STARVIN THEY HAVE EVERYTHING.NOT FAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    July 8, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  11. Josh in GA

    God! I know, right? If we get anything less than all-out socialism from this president, I think we should all just revolt! How dare "the government" not pledge to take care of everyone! Don't people understand that's what it's there for?

    This health care package is a huge and wonderful step in the right direction. It can lead to fully socialized medicine, which in turn will lead to socialized everything else.

    I'm willing to share my Hyundai AND my $10/hour salary with everyone else. Why isn't everybody willing to share everything?! I just don't understand. Didn't their mothers teach them anything? Every individual should be willing to "sacrifice" for "the common good."

    July 8, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  12. Peter E

    Why would a 'trigger' be necessary anyway? If the current health insurance corporations are so innovative and competitive then they wouldn't have anything to worry about in the first place. The necessity of the public option is not a problem. It is a symptom of the problems caused by the profit-mongering of these corporations. How come Canadians have the same life expectancy for half the cost per person? That half is the corporate profit! That half is already destroying small businesses that can't keep up with price speculation by health corporations, and that profit also keeps every sixth American on the brink of disaster because they can't afford the outrageous price for health insurance!

    July 8, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  13. Tom Bachman

    LOL!! The radical left opposes ANYTHING other than full government control of our lives. So much for creative ideas, compromise and rational discussion.

    July 8, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  14. Limbaugh is a liberal

    The GOP politicians are lying hypocrites! We already pay in taxes for health care and health insurance for many of them. Can we get the same public health care they get?

    July 8, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  15. DirtyDiana

    Dirty Little Secret Alert:

    Use your head, America. Think about it. When the White House says "a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete...," have you ever thought about what that means?

    If you are a private entity of any kind, and you are competing with the government (which, for all practical purposes, has limitless funds), what is the likelihood that you will beat the government? Hint: it's less than 1%.

    Which means what, you ask? It means that, in very short order, a "public option" will put private "options" out of business or force them to become government puppets, effectively eliminating private health care in our country.

    By the way, that is not a good thing. Go to Canada & talk to people who were diagnosed with a very serious issue who needed urgent care, and were told that they would have to wait 18 months for it. That is an example of a government-controlled healthcare system.

    Not that I expect ultra-liberal CNN or its "filter-readers" to post this comment.

    July 8, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  16. mjm

    So MoveOn.com is calling the shots now? Who voted them into office?

    They don't even know what's in the public option. They have no idea what it will cover and how much it'll cost. They just want "it".

    If private insurance meet needs of the people then we should go with that.

    Let's face it, Medicare and Medicaid are failing "public options". We don't want to force more people into a failing system.

    July 8, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. ken

    what else is new with this administration? Promise one thing then do another. can't say I'm surprised. Then they'll simply say yadayadayada while moving on to the next issue as being more important...it's all bs in the end...change? what change? oh you mean the exact opposite of everything obama has said and promised. Ooooh, ok, got it...and no i'm not a republican, nor a democrat. i'm just a fed up citizen that has to live with the mockery of what is our "government." I mean you got that guy Chris Dodd on tv lying to the people. Is it not his job to serve the people. Yet he lied and still keeps his job. And what about these chumps that don't pay their taxes? they still have their jobs. Bafoonery in washington as usual...

    July 8, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  18. Ms. D


    You need to stick to your guns because Bush did!! You are not going to please everybody but you have to do what is right!!

    July 8, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  19. wally

    Typical broken promises. I've been paying $230. per week for health care coverage and every year the premiums and co-pays increase about 20%.
    I'm in charge of negotiating the healthcare benefits for our company and because of the exorbitant cost placed on both business and employees, many opt to take their chances on health insurance coverage. Why are we coddling the very same people who have fleeced Americans for so long? Now factor in all the denied health claims and the moral delinquency of profitting from someones poor health and continuing the path of profit driven healthcare is simply wrong.
    The American people have spoken and they overwhelmingly demand single payer healthcare provided by the government that we all pay in to.
    Let's not let these health insurance companies pay their way to further profits through lobbyists, let's give Americans what the majority of other nations provide, healthcare that isn't driven by profit!

    July 8, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  20. paul

    Hmmm, When will this popular president ever stick to one of his campaign promises?! He has broken more promises than I would consider fair. Just so you know, Mr Obama, NOT every promise needs to be a compromise.

    July 8, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. joseph

    I wish everyone would relax and let these guys do their jobs! You cannot fix a lifetime of government problems within 6 months.

    July 8, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. Ex-Repug Gal

    Without the public plan, health reform cannot work. It amazes me that so many countries have so much success with is in different forms yet we cannot get it passed here. I can barely afford my health insurance now, this is the best way for some relief.

    This plan has been the best of Obama. I hope he doesn't let us down.

    July 8, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. Ryan Wing

    If you allow insurance companies to get by unchallenged from a public plan, they will play nice until health care isn't the hot button issue any more. Then they'll start disqualifying for pre-existing conditions, denying coverage unfairly, and raking in massive profits on the backs of hard working people.

    July 8, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  24. Stuffit

    MoveOn.org, which has poured millions of dollars into a campaign supporting the president's health care proposal.

    If all of these groups spending tons and tons of money to try and get government to raise our taxes and push through some of these programs would just give that money over to the cause they are trying to champion, the problem would be greatly diminished, if not eradicated.

    How much insurance could be bought for the uninsured were MoveOn contribute those MILLIONS to that cause? Add to that all of the other (cess)pools of money thrown around by political groups and the problem would be solved. This country needs to get back to first principles.

    July 8, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. dale

    This plan of government healthcare will divide this country even more. Taxing working people more to pay for people who don't work will divide the country. Create jobs and get out of companies way is the best way to help. 2010 can't get here soon enough

    July 8, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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