Obama: public option not dead

OBAMA: PUBLIC OPTION NOT DEAD…. Most, but not all, of the talk in the political world is that the public option in health care reform is in some trouble. President Obama presented a defense of the proposal during his joint-session speech two weeks ago, and polls continue to show national support for the idea, but for a few too many lawmakers in the Senate, it’s out of the question.

We learned yesterday, however, that the president, at least publicly, does not think the provision is dead.

Obama maintained that while the centerpiece of his healthcare reform effort, a public (or “government-run”) option, is absolutely not dead, it also is not the “silver bullet” that would instantaneously repair the nation’s healthcare system.

“I absolutely do not believe that it’s dead,” Obama told Univision’s “Al Punto” of the public option’s fate. “I think that it’s something that we can still include as part of a comprehensive reform effort.”

But the president still signaled that the public option, a key reform for which he has pushed for months, would not serve as a panacea for healthcare problems.

“What I’ve said is the public option, I think, should be a part of this but we shouldn’t think that, somehow, that’s the silver bullet that solves healthcare,” Obama said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with David Gregory, rejecting the idea that he’d effectively told liberals that the public option will not be included in reform.

I’d just add that the president has been fairly consistent on this since his big health care speech on Sept. 9. Obama talked up the public option in Pittsburgh last Tuesday, and promoted the idea again in College Park, Maryland, on Thursday.

Time will tell what’s possible in the Senate, but talk that the White House would abandon the public option when things got tough has not come to fruition, at least not yet.