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. RobertD

    Single. Payer. Health. Care. Now.

    Rahm Emanuel is an idiot. As someone who is to the left of "liberals," I would be pleased to hear that he has resigned and returned to private life to do something constructive. Maybe he can strong-arm little, old ladies for their purses and Social Security checks on the street corners of Illinois. It's essentially what he's trying to do to us.

    If affordable access to health care is good enough for members of Congress and both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations, it is certainly good enough for the people of this country who vote, pay their taxes and want a decent, living-wage job.

    Rahm, why don't you try working for the people for a change, instead of doing the bidding of the insurance, hospital, and pharmaceutical corporations and the AMA?

    July 8, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  2. Tony

    Can this White House be any more unorganized, pathetic and obviously clueless.

    Wait NOBAMA was a community organizer.................... all should be fine.

    July 8, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. Robert

    One more thing...who's running the country, Congress?.....The President?....MoveOn?...............Heaven help us......(Oops, sorry...I shouldn't evoke the name of "Heaven" since it hasn't been scientifically proved to exist....)

    July 8, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. Mike Bertrand

    This administration is slowly turning into a series of half-measured steps and apeasement based decisions. The bubble President Obama feared seems to be happening. The change that was so desperately wanted by his supporters hasn't shown a foothold yet, and the times for many of us are only looking more and more bleak. I'm sure life seems good and things are still running in D.C. Healthcare for our esteemed representatives is still in tack, retirement options still strong...maybe it is all in our heads out here in the rest of the USA.
    I have no healthcare, I'm working twice as hard for 1/5th the pay I used to earn, I'm never going to be able to retire and we're living hand to mouth. Must be something I did wrong, right!?

    July 8, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. Dem Til Death

    It looks to me like all Americans are either taking a pay cut now or will in the future.In 30 years we Americans have allowed our industrial base to move overseas mainly to China. A quick walk around Wal-Mart is proof of the non-exisistence of U.S. goods.Most service jobs pay less adjusted for inflation than 30 years ago.It's now time for our bloated over priced monopolistic Health Care System to do what millions upon millions of americans are doing .Doctors,Pharmacists,Nurses,ect. Take a pay cut or loose your high paying job.Medicine should not be about making outlandish profits.It shoud be serving Society like Fire and Police Protection. Also Congress let these greedy Insurance companies write medical policies in the early 70's.Stop it.Talk about a bunch of maggots.Here's 30% of Total Health Care Cost. Make them have to write Job-Loss Policies.

    July 8, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. easy, starting to eat their young

    don't be so quick to attack, this is way better than the last joke of an administration we had

    July 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. Regarding Obama Girls On Russian Trip

    At least the Obama girls are minors, and should be with their parents. George W. Bush took his daughter Barbara, another adult to the China Olympics. She was NOT a minor, and I'm sure she didn't pay for the trip.

    July 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. Ernie in LA

    Give the Libs enough rope and they will hang themselves. Great entertainment.

    July 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. Rosa Mobumba

    The dems are eating each other, as they should have long ago.

    July 8, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  10. Jen B

    The Liberal loons want to "spend spend spend" USA into Fascism as fast as they can. Emmanuel realizes that it won't pass.
    What do they say about Soc Sec (stolen by congress), Medicare almost bankrupt, and medicare about to fall? They are idiots !
    GOVT can't run anything as they are people who used money and depotism to acquire the job they have – most have ZERO business experience. That's obvious as the STimulus (50% of it waste) does not address SMall Business (70% of employees in USA).
    I never thought w/the likes of Washington, Lincoln, Polk, FDR, Truman, Roosevelt that we would have such clowns and kooks as leaders.
    We need Congress and the present ADM cleaned out soon or we will be a 3rd world Country.
    Jen B
    MN

    July 8, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. Move On, Move Out!

    Move On & El Rushbo, two nut cases pandering to an extreme

    July 8, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  12. Jim

    So, if private insurance companies lower costs and make health care more affordable, which is the whole point of the health care reform, it still isn't good enough for liberals? Why is it that liberals are just so hell-bent on nationalizing health care, even if the private health care companies keep lowering their costs?

    July 8, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. Elmer

    MoveOn....their agenda is so far left it is a good thing for them the earth is not flat. When in the history of this country has any government beaurocracy run an efficient program? The best option is to take what we have and regulate it to serve the people. If the socialist option is chosen, the public option, the result will be inferior health care. Look around MoveOn – every country with governent run health care, yes there is health care, but instead of some non-contributing users having to wait and wait and wait for services, everyone has to do so. That is just stupidity not progress!

    July 8, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  14. Rob Johnson

    All the conservatives who consider Obama a flaming liberal should look at this issue carefully for evidence that he is not.

    Pelosi and others in Congress, not to mention MoveOn and their ilk, would be happy to go much further to the left than Obama wants to, but he understands that would polarize the country and would rather find common ground we all can agree on.

    One of the things I've always liked about Obama is his comment that he would be President to all Americans, even those who didn't vote for him. This is a good example of that.

    July 8, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. Linda

    I fail to understand all this back peddaling and "trigger" talk. According to what I've been reading, over 70% of Americans favor the inclusion of a public option in any healthcare reform plan. Democrats now hold the magic 60 seats. If a vast majority of the American people want it and the controlling party is in a position to deliver it, what in the world are they dithering around about?! Now the administration wants to give insurance companies another chance to soak us all and grow ever-richer in the process?! BTW, recent reports show the insurance industry spending a million dollars a week to sow the seeds of fear and protect their ability to, basically, STEAL from every American!

    Enough of the seemingly endless kowtowing to the Republicans! President Obama, you KNOW what is right; that's WHY we voted for you. Now please do it so we can be assured that our faith i you was not misplaced!

    July 8, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. jim

    Funny how when the Administration actually talks sense, the left goes nuts.

    July 8, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Corporations always use the myth that somehow government is 'inefficient,' 'bureaucratic' and 'wasteful.' If that's the case, how come they fear government's lower cost options? Surely, an 'efficient' private company can underbid the government option! Oh right, they measure their own efficiency only by their profit margins! It is efficient for them to continue to raise their prices, squeeze every dollar out of us, and then deny us services to make even more profit!

    July 8, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. Bev - NYC

    Rahm is a big boy he can take the slings and arrows with quitting.

    July 8, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. Dan

    It will be interesting to see if Obama will truly lead as he seems to profess – or if he will bend to what the Whacko side of liberalism wants to push down everyone's throat. If he bends – his reign will be not only a "long" 4 years – but also a "short" 4 years. The American public will soon grow tired of all of this.

    July 8, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. Marty, Grand Rapids Mi

    We should be going to a single payer system. Insurance companies are simply overhead and are not needed. Since we are not going that rout (I guess because we like paying more then everyone else for health care), any bill that doesn't have a government plan is a waste of time and money. The only alternative would be removing profit from private insurance companies, requiring everyone to have insurance and only allow premium differences on age and location. Maybe weight (not current or prior medical history). Insurance companies should not be able to turn people away and cannot terminate coverage unless they have not been paid.

    July 8, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  21. greg

    Go figure the libs are upset because they can not spend the gobs of money they want to on this dumb ass health care over haul. instead of running head long into a disater how about the prez and his people actually sit down and take a long hard look at how to do this right. OH i forgot we are talking about liberal democrate who do not have a clue .
    Please forgive me for thinking Washington care's about the little guy, that goes for both sides.

    July 8, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  22. Proud Member..Party of No

    The amateur community organizer and his minions just can't get anything right.

    July 8, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  23. Jack CArlson

    Democrats are nuts ! SPEND SPEND SPEND to get us out of financial trouble...put them in jail please. I'm an independent and have no respect for either side of the isle.
    Tell Soros, Hollywood Actors, Billionaires to donate to the cause in large numbers please...put the money where the mouth is.
    Jack Carlson
    WA

    July 8, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  24. Jerry American

    The change you fools voted for , Sarah or other 2012

    July 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. Republican from Alerbami

    This is the Insurance Companies vs. the American people.If they dont like it we should nationalize them,along with big oil and gas.Its time to teach them whos really boss even if we have to call in the Army.

    July 8, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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