A better answer

A BETTER ANSWER…. On PBS yesterday, Jim Lehrer reminded President Obama that the House health care bill has a public option, while the Senate bill doesn’t. (I’m fairly certain he knew that.) As the process enters the final phase, Lehrer asked, “[W]hat’s going to be your position when you sit down and talk about this?” The president replied:

“[L]ook, I’ve been in favor of the public option. I think the more choice, the more competition we have, the better.

“On the other hand, I think that the exchange itself, the system that we’re setting up that forces insurance companies to essentially bid for three million or four million or five million people’s business, that in and of itself is going to have a disciplining effect.

“Would I like one of those options to be the public option? Yes. Do I think that it makes sense, as some have argued, that, without the public option, we dump all these other extraordinary reforms and we say to the 30 million people who don’t have coverage, ‘You know, sorry. We didn’t get exactly what we wanted’? I don’t think that makes sense.”

Whether you find that response compelling or not — it sounds about right to me — we can probably all agree it’s a better response than, “I didn’t campaign on the public option.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.