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. John

    "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..."

    At least there is some hope and sanity left.

    July 8, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. phonix86

    Rahm,

    Do NOT stand in the way of Pelosi, Reid and Obama's desire to elminate the current healthcare plan of working Americans and replace it with a Single Payer System operated by a branch of FEMA.

    July 8, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. Jerry

    Wheeling and dealing away our kids' future. Obama and his commies in Congress!

    July 8, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. guy

    What a surprise! The White House is still controlled by by insurance companies! Who would have thought? And Emanuel is a Wall Street boy...mmmmmmmm

    July 8, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. John

    Does the buck stop at Emanuel's desk? No, it stops at Obama's. I think Obama should be questioned about this...

    July 8, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. Patrick

    This thing is going to die if congress can't learn to work things out. These guys need to stop behaving like children. What is right doesn't mean what is fair. This is not about keeping score or about horse trading, it's about building a system that will work for the American people. And not just the majority of the people, but ALL the people.

    Get it together, congress. This country needs you to be leaders.

    July 8, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Hugo Castrobama

    Obama better remember just who his puppet master is – George Soros and the radical MoveOn.org. Forget voters, these loonies will destroy you, Barry, if you don't carry out precisely their bidding. After all, they have covertly bet billions of $ (against taxpayers) on the assumption that these policies will be adopted...

    July 8, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. Angus McDugan

    OK... If he gets yelled at for saying something then he will say what you want him to say. What a strong person. What a bunch of mixed messages being delivered from the White House. What a mess. Remember that covering the last 10% of people will require 80% of the cost.

    July 8, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. Christian

    How DARE you oppose Obama socialism. Add him to the blacklist! haha. What a country we are living in.

    July 8, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  10. Torch

    Emanuel is a scumbag of the highest order. We have a mobster as cheif of staff. Got to love those DEMS.

    July 8, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  11. riteaidbob

    Only true FOOLS would think our federal government should stick it's hand into and run our health care system. Afterall they have such a WONDERFUL track record of being utter BOOBS when it comes to running Medicare/Medicaid/VA/Etc.

    Wake up people...there is NO UTOPIA out there. Nothing is FREE!

    July 8, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. Diana NJ

    The PEOPLE, the CITIZENS of the United States who put these people in office want a PUBLIC OPTION. Health care is not affordable... Medications are not affordable.. the people are crying out for afordable health care... Hear us..

    July 8, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. bj

    Flip flop flip flop flip flop

    July 8, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. bj, Texas

    It's funny how the left wing nutjobs laud they messiah when it's the fringe left extremists like acrorn and moveon that pull the strings of their washington puppets. The half of america plus acorn and moveon that put this administration into office is finally sobering up and realizing that the other half of america was right.

    July 8, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. FEMALES FOR FEMALES

    Flip-flopping policy again. THIS IS NOT WE VOTED FOR> HILLARY 2012.

    July 8, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. Frank from Gilroy

    If people only understood that we are the only industrialized nation in the world that allows insurance companies to get in between every medical transaction between a doctor and a patient. Every other industrailized nation has a puplic plan and then the people who can afford it buy supplimental insurance to get to the front of the line or have there private rooms. That is what insurance companies should be limited to. Not asking a piece of the pie every time you need to see your doctor for a runny nose. They would still make a killing but would not be the killing they are making now. Every politician that is voting against the public plan should have there campaign contributers and amounts should be posted for the public to view. Insurance companies have way to much influence over our elected officals and the conflict of interest leads to the best politicans money can buy.

    July 8, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. 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 mostly to blame for the crater 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 alot more…….We Americans need to cut w/ the instant gratification, and the tearing down of an infant admin…..and have some patience!!!!!!
    Really and truly……PASS these bills in full measure!!! While we can still make a change.....

    July 8, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. gl, From Pittsburgh

    President's health care proposal or no health care proposal at all becasue a half baked one just wont' due.

    July 8, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. Former Democrat

    "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."

    AGAIN – Democrats are having to explain what one of their liberal own really meant to say.

    July 8, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  20. Robert

    Liberals turning on the WH?...now I'm really scared....what's in store for you and me....?

    July 8, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. Hopeful Optimist

    The liberals need to hold the Prez's feet to the fire on this one. This gov't option is needed to keep the private insurers honest. Don't you wonder why the insurance industry so opposes a government option ?

    They have crafted a system of spoils wherein they do not have to be competitive in their pricing. Let's watch 'em squirm now.

    July 8, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  22. heavy

    Why would anyone be upset if they can fix this without the government taking over?

    July 8, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  23. Joyce Becker

    Don't be in such a rush to compromise.

    July 8, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. Open Your 3rd Eye

    There should be NO REASON why the American people should not get a PUBLIC PLAN.

    This is what WE voted for – period, point blank, end of story

    And if it doesn't happen we will have a new president in 2012.

    (and he/she wont be a republican)

    That's a promise!

    July 8, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  25. Todd

    MoveOn to less goverment. Obama is starting to feel the fire under his feet. He will see flames if he continues his huge expansion of goverment and taxes.

    July 8, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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