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Sanders: Obama 'Is Wrong,' Making A Mistake On The Public Option

Sam Stein

While a bipartisan group of lawmakers begin a six-hour-long health
care summit on Thursday, it's worth noting that Republicans aren't the
only ones dissatisfied with the president's agenda.

During an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Thursday morning, Sen.
Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offered fairly sharp criticisms of Obama for
failing to show the requisite leadership needed to add a government-run
insurance option to the final legislative package. Asked about the
administration's argument that the provision lacked the votes needed
for passage, even through reconciliation, Sanders replied:

I think the president is wrong. I think it is a public
mistake. I think the people, for all the right reasons, distrust
private insurance companies. I think they want to look to a
Medicare-type public option. I think they should have that choice. And
second of all, at a time when health care costs are soaring, vis-à-vis
that 39% increase in California and all over the country, what a public
option can do is keep private insurance companies honest, give people
an option, hold them accountable. So I think the president is wrong and
I think we should go forward and I think we could get the 50 votes that
we need under reconciliation.

Sanders, in the end, will vote for a health care bill, even if it
lacks a public plan. His Republicans colleagues, by contrast, won't
meet him halfway. And herein lies much of the senator's frustration.
Thursday's summit is, ostensibly, about promoting bipartisan unity
around health care legislation. But on the structural issues in the
bill, sacrifices have already been made by Democrats to the benefit of
Republicans. Only, that was never reciprocated with GOP votes.

A new state-by-state survey shows that the Senate health care bill
is unpopular, the public option is extremely popular and voters would
rather support a senator who fights for a partisan bill with a public
option rather than one who goes along with a bipartisan bill that
doesn't include a public option.

See the results of the poll, paid for by the Progressive Change Congressional Committee, here.

With reporting by Ryan Grim

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