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. r.j.

    dead fish emanual,knows that a full blown socialist health care is not realistic,when will the libs wise up and stop trying to bankrupt this awesome country

    July 8, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. Lucullus

    I voted for Obama but I didn't delude myself into thinking that his administration would make any earth shaking changes. Once again it's politics as usual, with the government looking after the interests of their constituents . . . big business. The fact that the Democrats now have 60 seats in the house is meaningless. The one thing that the Republicans have always said that is true is that the Democrats are a bunch of gutless weenies. They'll never stand up for their beliefs. Never work for the common good. Like old man river, they'll just keep rolling along.

    July 8, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |

    If Obama, for whom I campaigned, caves to the insurance companies on this key issue - a public health care option - then what use was it to have elected him? 75% of the public supports a national medical care plan. Where is it? Is the country being run by Congress and the President, or by insurance or drug company Ayatollahs?

    No substitutes, Rahm. Do it via the reconciliation process if need be, but pass a bill with a public health care option or face the music. I am not so enamoured of Barack that I'd stick with him if he slides away from the public on this issue.

    July 8, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. demwit

    I love what progressive liberals have done to America since 2007..., can;t wait until 2012!!

    DOW -23.20 -0.28%

    July 8, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. gsmith

    Dont' water down Health Care Reform. Do it boldly, do it right!

    July 8, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. David Guinn

    We have got to have a health care system (public) that makes private insurance companies motivated to control costs and quality.

    And, I object to any system that is motivated by PROFIT when making decisions on my health care. My insurer, denied my eye exam cost as not covered. It is covered when required by a related health condition (dibetes) but the cost of the exam is not enough to fight Blue Cross over.

    July 8, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. Deregulate This

    It's funny that these Government people get Health Care paid for by we the people.

    They then try and force us into the Private industry with companies like HealthNet - the CEO makes $1.7 Billion per year. The costs are rising because we're paying these schmucks billions to live huge lives and screw the working families in America.

    July 8, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. phillip McCollum

    This is sad commentary. Special interests will always rule the day for its apparent health care is strickly for profit and insurance companies rule the day. Take money out of politics and maybe things could get done for the american people.

    July 8, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. thinksthisissilly

    Well what IS Obama's health care plan? America deserves to know. And let me go on record now saying, despite what some of the more liberal wings of the Democratic Party want, I do NOT support a single-payer system.

    July 8, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Limbaugh is a liberal

    With all due respect, the 'trigger' was already pushed ten years ago! Several times. Health care and insurance companies have stepped over the line over and over. Families have gone to ruin and small businesses have been destroyed ALREADY! It's not just time for a change. Change has been overdue for over ten years! I am tired of insurance companies denying me needed services for their excessive profit margins!

    July 8, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. RJN

    This is just one of the many disappointments we will face.
    They say one thing and commit to another.

    July 8, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. A. Goodwin

    Please oh please...do not cave White House!! We need a public option for health care. Are you seriously considering backtracking on this and playing into the hands of big corporate health insurance agencies. If so, this would be the first time I was truly unimpressed with the White House.

    July 8, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  13. Pat F

    How's the view from under the bus, Rohm? Get used to it – everyone that works for the Obamessiah sees that view eventually.

    July 8, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. John Etherin

    Rahm Emanuel pick as Chief of Staff is proving again and again to be a bad choice. He is too arrogant and speaks without thinking just to be in the spotlight. Expect yet another retraction by the fall guy, Gibbs

    July 8, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. Ken

    In general, when an administration is taking fire from both sides of the aisle for its attempts to create and promote new legislation, you can be pretty sure that they're attempting to do the right thing by trying to find a fair and equitable balance among the many competing agendas at play. This is just part of the process, and it should be part of the process. Unlike the Bush administration, where energy companies met in secret with Cheney to write self-serving energy bills that led to record profits, Obama's people are trying to do the hard work of real thinking and negotiation about the issue that in the long run will be the only way of coming up with a plan that works as well as possible for everyone. Give them a chance to do their jobs; for a change, we actually have an administration in place now that is actually trying to do things the way they are supposed to be done.

    July 8, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. Annette

    Uh, Mr.President, you might want to tell your staff, when you are not in the country, do not speak on subjects that are still a work in progress. As of now, I still support your efforts, because we at least gave Bush 8 years. You have been President under a year, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. " Silence is golden".

    July 8, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. John

    America better keep the government out of their health care.

    July 8, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. Brian

    The Government has never run anything well, why do we keep handing them more?

    July 8, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  19. Gentwelve

    Good!!! As a condervative Democrat there is nothing better than seeing the Liberal Dems and Condervative Repubs getting pissed off. Someone must be doing something right!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 8, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. panem et circenses

    Does this surprise anyone? MoveOn and the other liberals do not want to give the private sector a chance of doing this without big-government interference – thus proving that government is NOT the solution to every problem.

    July 8, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  21. Gary44

    If the government employees (and Congressmen's) single pay option is good enough for them, then it is good enough for their employers-the American public.

    We need to get these people on board to the idea that profit in healthcare is incompatible with the concept of "doing no harm" which is part of some oath SOME people in medicine take.

    Stop scaring us with the "government middleman boogeyman". The government employees medical plan works, and Medicare WOULD work if doctors weren't so worried about making half a million or more a year and so could not refuse service. If there was no choice do you really think doctors would pack up and move to Botswana to practice?

    July 8, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  22. Rob

    and if he does that instead of a public option, he is done. Good bye democrats. you will lose %20 of the people who voted you in.....of course, that will mean the rethugs will take over and pretty much will end our country.

    So, go ahead Mr. President...continue to appease the minority party who has given you NO VOTES on ANYTHING.

    We need a revolution...we need to rid ourselves or conservatives...they are immoral and evil. THey have no clue and want our country to be just like Mexico.

    July 8, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  23. Lisa, Saugus MA

    We are now starting to see firsthand the real "change" we can believe in.

    I am a dem and furious. I so wish Hillary had won! Heck right about now I think McCain would have done a better job.

    Experience triumps!

    July 8, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  24. quarterback

    I'm paying $1400 per month for the wonderful deductible of $4000 per year because my wife had knee replacement. I am in perfect health.

    We can't keep this up. There must be a public option or I'll be sunk.

    July 8, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |

    Perhaps Mr. Emanuel is confused. He is the White House Chief of Staff , not the White House Editor in Chief.

    July 8, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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