A prominent liberal Democrat lays blame for the Senate’s failure to pass the public option squarely on the shoulders of Barack Obama.
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., says Obama’s apparent lack of will to aggressively lobby senators to support the public option ultimately led to its downfall in the Senate version, which will be voted on this week.
“I’ve been fighting all year for a strong public option. I continued that fight during recent negotiations, and I refused to sign on to a deal to drop the public option from the bill,” Feingold said in a press statement. “Unfortunately, the lack of support from the administration made keeping the public option an uphill struggle.”
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The senator says he disagrees with the decision to remove the public option, and it eliminates $25 billion in savings from the $871 billion bill. He says he plans to insist on having the House-Senate conference committee reinsert the public option into the final bill after the Senate bill passes.
Although Feingold opposes the decision to eliminate the public option from the Senate bill, he says it stands as a marked improvement over the current healthcare situation.
“The bill significantly expands coverage and helps protect Wisconsinites from high costs and insurance company abuses, such as denying or restricting coverage based on pre-existing conditions,” Feingold said. “The bill also improves a flawed Medicare formula that denies Wisconsinites fair reimbursement rates, encourages the kind of low-cost, high-value care practiced in our state, increases access to home- and community-based long-term care.”
Feingold also claimed the Senate bill would reduce the deficit by $132 billion over the next decade; however, the Congressional Budget Office revised its initial estimate Sunday from the earlier number used by the senator, indicating deficit reductions from the bill would not kick in until after 2019.
A blog entry in the Huffington Post suggests although Obama may have avoided defending the public option for strategic reasons, it goes a long way to reinforcing the narrative about his “timidity” when it comes to his leadership.
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