White House officials said a government health insurance option is negotiable, signaling a potential compromise on an issue that President Barack Obama's liberal supporters consider do-or-die.
White House says government insurance option open to negotiation
As Obama prepares for a Wednesday night speech to Congress in a risky bid to salvage his top domestic priority, political adviser David Axelrod said a public plan is not the core issue in the healthcare debate. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs danced around a question about whether Obama would veto a bill without the public option. The president "believes the public option is a good tool," said Axelrod, who joined with Gibbs in a one-two punch on the Sunday talk shows. "It shouldn't define the whole healthcare debate, however."
Their appearances came ahead of Congress' return this week from a summer break that saw eroding public support for an overhaul and contentious town hall meetings in lawmakers' districts. Gibbs called the government plan a valuable tool. But asked if Obama would reject legislation that didn't include it, he responded: "We are not going to prejudge where the process will be."
"I doubt we are going to get into heavy veto threats" in the president's speech, Gibbs added. Gibbs said Obama will refocus the debate on the benefits of overhauling the system: more security and lower costs for the majority of people who have health insurance, and new ways to help self-employed people and small businesses get coverage. "People will leave that speech knowing where he stands," said Gibbs. He said Obama is considering offering his own healthcare legislation, instead of letting Congress sort out all the details.
Axelrod appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press," while Gibbs was on ABC's "This Week."
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.