Public Option On Its Death Bed

Liberals panic as president, Sebelius, Conrad downplay expectations
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2009 9:20 AM CDT
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks at Commercial Maintenance, Inc., in West Hartford, Conn., Monday, Aug 3, 2009.   (AP Photo/George Ruhe)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The public option is looking sickly, after a weekend in which Obama and Co. seemed to be backing away from it, and liberals aren’t happy about it, Politico reports. “Public Option, Meet Underside of Bus,” read one Daily Kos headline. Over the weekend, President Obama said the proposal was “just one sliver” of the debate, while Kathleen Sebelius said it was “not the essential element” in reform.

Kent Conrad all but called the time of death. “Look, there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option,” he said. “There never have been.” By last night the White House was doing damage control, saying Sebelius “misspoke,” and  Obama was still committed to the idea. “Nothing has changed.” But liberals aren't persuaded. Rachel Maddow complained that, without a public option, Obama will have “spent a ton of political capital” on something that “won’t do much for the American people.”