House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reiterated last night that a public option will be essential to pass a health care bill in Congress.
From the Politico
As the White House signals that it is willing to move forward on a health reform plan without a public option, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) sent a strong message Thursday evening: not so fast.
In her strongest statement yet, Pelosi said that any bill “without a strong public option will not pass the House”:
“Any real change requires the inclusion of a strong public option to promote competition and bring down costs,” Pelosi said. “If a vigorous public option is not included, it would be a major victory for the health insurance industry.”
Pelosi’s remarks come less than one week before President Barack Obama delivers an address to a joint session of Congress as part of a re-launched campaign effort to sell his health care reform bill to both lawmakers and the public. White House aides have said the president will use the speech to offer more detail than he has so far about what sort of bill he’d like to reach his desk.
“President Obama has said that a public option will keep the insurance companies honest. If someone has a better idea for promoting competition and reducing health care costs, they should put it on the table,” Pelosi said. “But for the past month, opponents of health insurance reform have demonstrated that they are afraid of the facts. They have only offered distortions, distractions and misrepresentations to try to kill this historic legislation.”
“A bill without a strong public option will not pass the House,” Pelosi said. “Eliminating the public option would be a major victory for the insurance companies who have rationed care, increased premiums and denied coverage.”
Pelosi’s response is not all that surprising as she has previously stated the liberal Democrats in Congress would not vote for a bill that didn’t contain a public option. However as the Speaker of the House and one of Obama’s key allies it is incumbent upon her to show some leadership and not just kow-tow to the liberl base in the House. Maybe Pelosi is trying to show the world that she is tough and doesn’t compromise on principle. But since the health care bill is such a key piece of Obama’s legislative agenda her intransigence will only encourage the opposition and kill any chances it has of passing.