Remember how Tom Daschle used to be Tim Geithner‘s identical twin? How both of them had cheated on their taxes? And how both of them were uniquely qualified to do the jobs that Obama had picked them for, Geithner to restore the economy to the pink of health, and Daschle to shepherd Obama’s dream healthcare reform package through Congress?
Maybe Obama was lucky that Daschle cheated on his taxes, and that it came to light when it did. Because Daschle was singing a very strange and unexpected healthcare song yesterday:
The man once slated to head Barack Obama’s health care system overhaul is now coming out against one of the chief components of that effort.
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said on Wednesday that the Obama White House would likely have to scrap a federal public option for health insurance coverage if it wanted to get the votes needed to pass systematic change.
“We’ve come too far and gained too much momentum for our efforts to fail over disagreement on one single issue,” the Senator and one-time HHS Secretary nominee said, according to ABC News.
So while Obama is still professing firm support for a public plan, Daschle is out there — teaming up with former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole and Howard Baker, of all people — undercutting it.
Ah, but I’m guilty of the crime of haste! The worst kind too, intemperate haste. I should have said “apparently undercutting”.
Daschle may have said in so many words that a public plan should be sacrificed in order to pass healthcare reform legislation, but why, pray, does that mean Daschle isn’t still committed to a public plan?
A spokesman for the former majority leader called the Huffington Post to insist that Daschle is “still committed to the public plan” and was not urging Obama to drop it from his proposal.
“He was saying that we shouldn’t let any issue derail what would be health care reform,” said Eileen McMenamin, Director of Communications at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “He definitely did not say there should be no public plan.”
Yes, he definitely didn’t say there shouldn’t be a public plan, he only said there wouldn’t be a public plan (or do I mean couldn’t?). He only said that a healthcare reform bill likely couldn’t pass if the public plan wasn’t scrapped (likely, mind you, not definitely). He only said the choice was to keep a public plan in the bill and see it voted down, or scrap the public plan and see it pass. Old intemperate habits die hard; I do, of course, mean likely choice.