In a moment of angry accidental honesty, President Obama compared his recent deal with the Republicans on tax cuts to the fight over the public option. From a transcript of the press conference via Greg Sargent:
This notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again. I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats have been fighting for for a hundred years. But because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get, that would have affected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people, and the potential for lower premiums for maybe 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness, of compromise.
Of course the two are identical, but not for the reason Obama claims about progressives not understanding the need for compromise. The two situations are identical because, despite being big campaign promises, President Obama didn’t want to fulfill those promises. At every turn, he worked behind the scenes to undermine them.
President Obama kept claiming he wanted a public option well after he secretly promised the for-profit hospitals he would kill it in exchange for their support. After that, he quietly sent signals that he did not want it and worked to undermine any attempt to put in in the bill.
On the tax cuts, the same situation played out. Obama signaled he was willing to “compromise” when he would not offer a veto threat. He also worked to kill Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) plan to let the tax cuts expire just for those making over $1 million.
This tax deal is the public option fight all over again, but not the way Obama falsely tries to spin it. Both times, Obama had no intention of fighting for his promise. Both times, he argued that in order to obtain some help for regular people, he was “forced” into endorsing a huge transfer of wealth to the ultra rich and big corporations.
Finally, I suspect both fights to end the same way, too. After the deed was done, both times Obama made vague promises about how in the future he would finally get what he promised, even though he had no clear plan to success. However, in the future, when there is a chance to get what he promised, he will fail to fight yet again.