September 6th, 2009
07:35 PM ET
5 years ago

'Why should the liberals always cave?' Dem asks


(CNN) - A liberal Minnesota Democrat who has been an outspoken proponent of the public health insurance option fired a shot over the White House's bow Sunday in the Democratic Party's escalating internal feud over health-care reform.

In an interview on CNN's State of the Union, Rep. Keith Ellison laid down the battle lines for President Barack Obama, whose White House is wedged in the middle between conservative Senate Democrats and the conservative House Blue Dog Coalition and liberal House Democrats.

"Why should the liberals always cave?" Ellison said when confronted with the prospect that Obama might ask the liberal members of the party to compromise.

Asked what he would like for the president to say Wednesday in a joint address to Congress that will focus on health care, Ellison stuck to his guns.

"He could say, 'You know what, the public option is essential to reform.' He could say that a public option is the only thing that's going to hold insurance premiums down. . . . He could say that a public option with a large provider network is going to help promote better medical practices based on evidence. So, I'm hoping that he understands the essentiality of the public option."

Ellison rejected outright the idea of bringing a public health insurance option into the insurance market through a so-called "trigger" that would kick in years after passage of a health-care reform bill and only if the private insurance industry failed to meet certain benchmarks relating to coverage and cost.

Ellison said private insurers wielded substantial market power "in nearly every major metropolitan area" that gives companies the ability to set premiums at high rates.

"How are we going to get them down? By introducing three things: competition, choice and a competitive price. I don't know how any conservative can be against those three things," he said.

Ellison also said Sunday that non-profit co-ops, an idea under consideration in bipartisan negotiations in the Senate Finance Committee, also would not suffice in his view because they would not have large enough provider networks.

The Democrat also told King that co-ops should not be used out of an anti-government mindset.

"Let's stop this ideological commitment to bashing government," he said

Ellison also encouraged Obama to use reconciliation, a special Senate procedure relating to budgetary legislation, in order to get a bill passed with a bare majority - likely all Democrats - in the Senate.

Ellison's comments were directly at odds with remarks Sunday from two of his fellow congressional Democrats.

Also on State of the Union, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson suggested use of a triggering mechanism on the public health insurance option as a compromise, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar appeared open to the proposal but said she wanted to know more about the benchmarks that would be used to activate the trigger.

Both Democratic senators also told King that they favored a more bipartisan approach to health-care reform in their chamber that would garner the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster and both suggested that use of reconciliation would not be the best course of action.


Filed under: Health care • State of the Union
soundoff (112 Responses)
  1. Bertina

    President Obama needs to stand his ground against these uneducated, school drop-out, sleep through class Republicans. They are using politics in everything. How ignorant and stupid can people be?? I can't believe it. We need Health Care Reform w/public options or the insurance companies will keep playing their games. All this hate and partisanship seemed to start in 2000 with Tom Delay, Karl Rove, Cheney, and Limbaugh and has steadly gotten worse. With airhead idiots like Palin, and our idiot Bachman who claim to be so good are only adding fuel to the flame. Pawlenty needs to do his job here in MN and quit acting like he is God's gift to the country. He is a loser too. Check out the comments in the Mpls. Star Tribune.

    September 6, 2009 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  2. Beantown Bully

    The Dems can learn a few thing from the rePUGS. When they wanted to go to war againts all common knowledge they vilified any and all opponents. With all the UNIVERSAL benefits that this legistalation can unlock, the opponents should not only be villified, they should be deported. This will benefit Americans, and any house is only as good as the foundation that it built on. A for-profit model model for something as vital as life has proven to be a huge mistake. With this legislation the people at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder will have one less thing to worry about, and that sort of resolve has a butterfly effect that will impact all citizens. Their employers will no longer have to pay such exhorbitant amounts for healthcare, which can be re-invested into the company, and by Repuglican ideology "begin creating jobs"
    LIFE, Liberty and the Persuit of happiness.
    Victory Is Ours!!!!!!!
    Go GET EM BARRACK! Dont back down. We dont negotiate with terrorists!!!!!!!!!!

    September 6, 2009 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  3. Susan

    This is the same question I am asking people........
    "Why do liberals cave?"

    Bush admn was excellant enough to push through whatever they wanted and Obama, despite having good ideas, is crying to get things done.

    I think McCain was right, Obama is not a strong leader afterall.

    September 7, 2009 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  4. mike

    To me what John King has been trying to do is, if you are black you are a liberal....How nice!

    September 7, 2009 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  5. Belle1

    As a Democrat, I have to wonder if the commentators have actually read HR 3200, Nancy Pelosi's bill she wants to shove down America's throat.

    The problem with HR 3200? Not one single place does it say it is voluntary. It mandates employers to enroll all new employees in the Public Option, it audits self-insurers, pages 425-430...the language is so poorly written, that it could be construed as "Death Panels" as Palin said on her facebook page.

    Then we have to look at the "Health Czar" on Dr. Ezekial Emmanuel. His own words about a "life cycle" and his belief that health care should go to the younger crowd vs the older crowd. He also believes a "death pill" is a better option than prolonging a person's life...

    If you actually read HR 3200, you would realize the only spot that bill belongs is in a trash bin.

    September 7, 2009 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  6. Brian Wilson

    Liberals? What about what happened to Palin?

    September 7, 2009 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  7. windfall

    Go Keith! We're so happy we have you representing us!

    September 7, 2009 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  8. AlRam

    No the liberals don't cave in. We are just decent people who know the meaning of compromise. Unlike some other people whose motto is "my way or the highway".

    September 7, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  9. Rita OHIO

    Indeed, why? They already did. We wanted a single payer program and settled on a public option. It's time for the other side to compromise

    September 7, 2009 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  10. John

    Why should the liberals always cave?

    Because they come from a mindset that believes compromise, dialogue, and bi-partisanship are honorable alternatives to take-no-prisoners, know-nothing, scorched earth obstructionism?

    Not that Republicans ever gave a fig about such niceties.

    September 7, 2009 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  11. m jeff

    He's right, the Republicans have no power, and if they were in power they would never go along with the Democrats on anything. It time to seize the opportunity. Working with the Repulicans in a bipartism approach is like swimming with an anchor.

    September 7, 2009 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  12. voice of reason

    The GOP and the Republicans are a party of ignorant, hate promoting bigots who are less concerned with the country than they are with demonizing others.

    September 7, 2009 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
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