It’s about more than reform

The future of the Obama presidency hangs in the balance

Supporters of inclusion of a so-called public option in any health-insurance reform plan are upset these days because President Obama seems to be leaning toward abandoning it in order to get his larger reform package through Congress. We share that concern, believing that a public option—a relatively low-cost, government-run insurance program with which private insurers would have to compete—is vital to holding down costs.

But it’s important at this juncture, especially for supporters of the president, to keep the larger picture in mind. The most important thing is for him to succeed in passing some kind of comprehensive reform plan, public option or not. If he doesn’t have the votes to include a public option, so be it.

His Republican opponents want nothing more than to see him fail, which is why so many of them are trying to rile up the masses by broadcasting lies about “death panels” and “pulling the plug on Grandma.” For one thing, they want to pick up congressional seats in the mid-term elections, and they know Obama’s failure would help their cause. They know too that it would be much more difficult for a wounded president to pass meaningful legislation on other important issues such as climate change and immigration reform.

So far the president’s supporters have been strangely subdued when it comes to health-insurance reform. Perhaps that’s because they’re confused about its technicalities or don’t know how they feel about the public option. But if they support this president and the changes he is attempting to make not only domestically, but also in this country’s relations with other nations, they should speak up loudly and clearly.

Congress needs to know that a majority of Americans understand that the nation’s well-being, including its economic health, depends on passing health-insurance reform. And liberals who support the public option need to let their lawmakers know that, while they believe strongly that it’s an important part of any package, they will back the Democrats’ plan even if it doesn’t include that option. The future of the Obama presidency hangs in the balance.