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. Daniel

    Had enough of milk toast "Democrats"? Do what I did. I changed my party affiliation from Democrat to Independent. I will vote on refferenda only. I've voted democratic since I was old enough to vote, in the 1960's. Keep them guessing, that's what they do to you.

    July 8, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. Jefe

    Just implement some cost controls. While most people don't seem to comprehend it, the health insurance industry makes ungodly profits every year, while costs increase by double-digit percentages every year.

    If they were making the system more efficient, and adding some kind of value, it might make sense to be paying them, but they are a complete failure of an industry (except in making profits). Seeing as they're not, implement some cost controls, and run health insurance as not-for-profit.

    People like to say doctors won't practice here if that happens. That's so untrue its ridiculous. Doctors don't make as much money as people seem to think they do. Hospital corporations, pharmeceutical corporations, and health insurance corporations make most of the money, and doctors and nurses get the scraps.

    July 8, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  3. Ken

    This right here tells it all poured MILLIONS $ into his campaign for his health care plan!!! I think this would raise eyebrows. Who else is going to get what out of this not the tax payer!

    July 8, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  4. Tony - FLA

    Why the anger? Without a doubt the anger from the progressive side is about control of our health care. What is a trigger than saying “meet these benchmark and we won't come in”. If the progressives can't accept that is because they want control and right at the jump. As I have said before; if your freedom is worth your security then why do you live in this country? Why are so many of you willing to give up on that which I served for. For all that is said, can one of you tell me how things have gotten better. You want to know what a government option looks like go check out your local VA Hospital. I don't mean that as a slight to the doctors and the nurses, my issue is with the administration that controls it, that through $$$ limits the care that Vets receive and that is only because that is the only way that it can survive. The VA took on to much when it started giving us Vets primary care instead of just treating our service connected disabilities. Now I hear from my fellow citizens that they want to follow the same path, how sad. What happened to personal responsibility? Please stop destroying that what many have fought and died for.

    July 8, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. kristopher k

    Nothing will ever change in this country until the big money special interest groups are kicked out of Washington. Until then, it's all just lip service and may the highest bidder win.

    July 8, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. larrywi

    The "Trigger" plan works for me. If we don't see the reform that is expected then the other kicks in. The only problem will be that the Ins companies will fail to act, and eventually we get the "other" shoved down our throats. Just like the trucking industry. For years, prior to most recent regulation regarding hours opf service, the Govt said come up with a plan so that we don't have to implement one, the industry stood silent until the Govt stepped in and made the rule.

    July 8, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. jrzshor

    MoveOn-is a really scary group.

    July 8, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  8. J Farrow

    The President has already compromised enough with the health care industry and the conservatives in his own party. The president and his staff need to support the plan that the majority of the American people support and that's progressive and real health care reform. No compromise on the public insurance option! If the president ultimately compromises on this important reform measure he will not have achieved real health care reform and his base will not let him forget it.

    July 8, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. Mike

    Looks like obamas popularity is falling all over the place. Maybe the change you can believe in has come home to roost.

    July 8, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  10. Bill Sampson

    Single payer system works for everybody except health insurance company executives. That is the real way to go.

    Health insurance companies no more deliver health care than your auto insurer builds cars. Health insurance companies in no way deliver health care. Just the opposite, they profit by DENYING health care. Health care delivery costs them money. They don't want to spend money. They hire tens of thousands of bureaucrats whose sole function is to figure out how to deny coverage to those who may get sick and then to deny the claims of those they do insure. This is not value added. They must go. We cannot afford them.

    July 8, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  11. Donald Edmond, Esq

    I'm still waiting to be intimidated by Rahm Emanuel and his alleged pitbull toughness and political acumen. It never surfaced in a real way when he was in Congress...President Bush ran roughshod over Congress when Emanuel was supposedly a rising star.

    The Obama Administration is every bit mythical media creation that I suspected and apparently incapable of stepping on its own toes. The Democrats have a working majority in Congress and 60 votes in the Senate and look around...unemployment getting worse, more Americans suffering, home foreclosures and credit defaults nearing record pace. But wait, the Obama girls are taking Russia by storm and a prime time (made for TV) interview with Obama in Africa is coming!

    When Hillary Clinton bowed out of the Democratic primaries, this snowball started rolling...downhill. Wake me up in 2012. Maybe this time the American people and not the American media will choose our next President.

    July 8, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  12. RealityKing

    Why doesn't CNN name all these progressive liberals lined up with MoveOn.org?? America wants to know who we should be voting out next year!

    July 8, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. DONNA MCaLLISTER

    People who are milking billions of dollars from the federal government on welfare already have FREE INSURANCEon the backs of us working people who pay taxes . Overall health care will just be another of Obama's "boggles" .

    July 8, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  14. lou

    Nobody howls louder than a wounded liberal jackel.

    July 8, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  15. Doug

    I think that President Obama is correct. An affordable public option will force the over-priced insurance industry to become more efficient and more competitive. Enough is enough, let's do this thing.

    The insurance industry should realize that there will be 46 million new customers.

    Make no mistake, Rahm Emanuel does not do anything- anything that is not thought out for maximum benefit. Something tells me he got the exact reaction he was looking for. Keep up the good work Rahm...

    July 8, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. Pam from Tn.

    Ya think you all could possibly get it together up there in Washington..bickering, back stabbing, fighting for power, ego, greed...Secondary..the American people!

    July 8, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  17. Cindy Hoelting

    It is amazing that people are so anxious to empower the federal goverment even more. Health, education, and welfare should be done at the state level where the people have more influence. Another goverment run entity means more lobbyist and coruption. Is anyone completely happy with the expenditure of their tax dollars? I beleive not since social security is bankrupt and we are indebt to China(not one of our allies), our deficit is in the trillions!!!, any idea how much money that is? I cannot even wrap my mind around it! It doesn't matter which party you blame because they both have been
    more than generous with our hard earned tax dollars. Here is a possible solution to our woes, give generous tax breaks to large and small corporations that use American labor and provide healthcare to their employees. This will make the socialist mad as he__!

    July 8, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. Dennis

    Rats are jumping off asinking ship.

    July 8, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. frank deery

    Oh, dear! While Obama's away, the mice are at play. First, Biden on the Stimulus and now The Chief of Staff. Who is in charge???

    Sarah Palin is looking better all the time!!

    July 8, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. bb

    We don't want health care reform. we want them to leave our insurance companies, doctors, nurses, techs alone. The P.O never made a profit, the Medicaid program is in trouble. the Medicare program is in trouble, Social Security is in trouble, Heaven help the banking system. Goverment motors will fail too. There are 300 insurance companies in the US. I think they have enough competition.

    July 8, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. rand

    Emanuel made a huge mistake here more than likely putting the current plan in jeopardy. Obama's legacy could very well be defined by overhauling the failing health care system. If we get some watered down version that does nothing but cause problems, we're screwed.

    Emanuel needs to keep his trap shut and Obama once again needs to do damage control to let congress know that what's presented is what NEEDS to happen. NO COMPROMISES.

    July 8, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  22. janis haaf

    The government has no business is the health care system. Big government is costly and over kill. Think of another way to solve this problem.

    July 8, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. wallynm

    If the publicoption looks, smeels, and is like Medicare then it is doomed to failure. Even the Mayo Clinic in MN get underpaid on its Medicare patients.

    July 8, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  24. skyhawkdriver

    Emanuel must be filling in for joe biden..he also must suffer from foot in mouth disease

    July 8, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. Steve

    Why does government ALWAYS try to expand government at the whim of the politicians and never by the will of the people.

    I hope the dems and the Authoritarian party formerly known as the GOP get it threw there THICK SKULLS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WANT AND DEMAND A PUBLIC OPTION. END OF STORY!!!!

    Unless of course Obama the deams AND the gop dont want there jobs come the next elections.

    The only good thing to come from bush is Americans on all sides are sick of politics as usual and will not give a poor politician an extra 4 years if they cannot handle the first 4 years.

    you work for US. NOT the other way around!!!!

    July 8, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
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