Huffington Post is reporting:
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs strongly hit
back at former DNC Chairman Howard Dean for criticizing the Senate
health care bill, suggesting, at one point, that Dean was being
irrational and didn't understand the contents of the legislation.
"I don't know what piece of legislation he is reading," said Gibbs.
"How better do you address those who don't have insurance... passing a
bill that will cover 30 million uninsured or killing a bill?" he added.
"I don't think any rational person would say killing a bill makes any
sense at this point."
Asked if Dean was acting irrationally, Gibbs replied: "I can't tell
what his motives are, to be honest with you."
A prominent champion of the public plan, Dean has viscerally
criticized the recent round of compromises made by Senate Democratic
leadership, in which the public option was axed and a provision to
expand Medicare was also sacrificed. The former Vermont governor has
called the current incarnation a give-away to the insurance industry
because it won't effectively control the cost of premiums and would not
create additional competition for the private market. Gibbs went through
a list of Dean's complaints, rebutting them one by one. He also
insisted that, during his run for the White House in 2004, Dean ran on a
platform that resembled the current Senate bill.
"If this is an insurance companies' dream, I think the insurance
companies have yet to get the memo," he summarized.
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In actuality, the insurance companies do seem to have considered the
recent round of negotiations a victory, with one executive telling Ben Smith of Politico: "We win."
The relationship between Dean and the White House has been frosty,
starting when the president did not pick the former DNC chair for the
post of Health and Human Services Secretary. But the rhetoric from Gibbs
on Wednesday brought the animus to a far more public level.
Asked if they are worried that Dean's criticism of the bill will sway
progressives in the Senate, Gibbs replied: "No."
Asked if Dean was an irritant, Gibbs replied: "That is not a question
for me to answer. I think if you look at what Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)
and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and others have said, I think they can point
out the benefits of the legislation."
Common Dreams Editors Note:
Thanks to Jeff Cohen for pointing out that Robert Gibbs has a long history of attacking Howard Dean.
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