That seems to be the import of a story from the Wall Street Journal. According to the White House, the key is to introduce competition, and while the public option may be one way to do that in the White House’s view, there apparently is room to negotiate over the matter, and the public option is not a non-negotiable issue for the Obama Administration.
Ezra Klein professes to not be surprised by the language, but says that he is upset that Democrats aren’t using their majorities in Congress and their hold over the White House to get a better deal. I don’t blame Klein for being upset–I suppose that I would be too if I were in his position–but doesn’t he realize by now that Barack Obama will only do what is in Barack Obama’s political interests? Klein’s concerns–and those of the rest of the Democratic base–are rarely considerations for this White House as it plans out policy.
We have seen this kind of temporizing from Obama before, most notably in the realm of interrogation policy. The President ignored the wishes of his base and split the baby when it came to formulating policy. He’ll keep doing so. The only question is whether people like Ezra Klein will decide that enough is enough, and abandon the President–thus making him pay for courting the middle while leaving the Democratic base alone, unloved, frustrated, and completely taken for granted.