Video: Measuring the worth of a public option

  1. Closed captioning of: Measuring the worth of a public option

    power of human energy.

    >>> are you aiming for -- do you have a goal of a higher number of votes?

    >> i always want more.

    >> is there any goal, a number or 230?

    >> the goal will be where we have a comfort level in our caucus to go forward. but we are at a place where the level of respect for everyone's point of view is increased, that people are listening to each other. whatever it is, i think it will be a good vote. we will send our negotiators to the table with a strong commitment for a public option.

    >> nancy pelosi holding the line on a public option. she says the democrats have 218 votes. for more on that, joining me now is democratic majority leader, congressman steny hoyer .

    >> hi, get, good to be with you.

    >> do you have 218 votes? i would like to hear it from you and i know our audience would too.

    >> i think we have 218 votes. the bill is not completely done, but we're working, working hard. as we have in the past, we think we're going to pass this bill.

    >> what does this do to the senate, if anything? the momentum of the whole thing, that you've achieved this 218 mark and you can move forward with a public option, what does it do to the process?

    >> i certainly think that when the house passes a bill, and you know, ed, we said we're going to give substantial notice to people, so we have days to go before we put this of the floor. but when we pass this bill, it will give us momentum. it will send a signal to the senate that we believe the overwhelming majority of the american public want health reform . we think significant majority want to support this bill and it will end a message to the senate for movement. it will help senator reid and the proponents of the bill in the senate.

    >> i know you're aware of what dick cheney had to say last night, and also the republican leadership has been very critical of the president on afghanistan . almost to the point of saying that president obama is making us weaker and isn't decisive and can't protect the country. your response to that?

    >> let me say something. there are 28,000 more troops in afghanistan right now than when george bush was president of the united states . george bush took his eye off and the republicans took their eye off. dick cheney took his eye off the ball in afghanistan . went over to iraq, and didn't finish the job in afghanistan . the reason president obama is now considering what needs to be done in afghanistan is because the former administration didn't complete the job they started to do. the taliban has been resurgent. al qaeda is present. mccrystal is right, they pose a danger. we got to stabilize that country. it's critical from the stand point of terrorism. it's critical from the standpoint of pakistan, which is critically important. but for dick cheney or any other republican leader to criticize president obama , who is carefully trying to figure out with our military leadership, with his advisers, the best successful policy that we can pursue in afghanistan , i think is totally unjustified from an administration, particularly a leader in the administration, that took their eye off the ball in afghanistan and left us eight years later in the position we're now in.

    >> the country is shifting on afghanistan , congressman hoyer. will there be support from the house, majority of support from the house if the president decides to send thousands more troops to afghanistan ? how much will the progressive caucus fight this?

    >> ed, i don't want to anticipate what the president is going to decide. therefore, i don't want to speculate on what the support will or will not be. but i am confident that president obama is looking at this very, very carefully to determine how we can be successful in not leaving an afghanistan that then becomes an additional center or back to a center of terrorist activity and attacks on the united states . i think he's well aware of the sentiment in the party and aware of the sentiment in the country. i think the president is absolutely committed to doing what he believes is in the best interest of the safety of our country.

    >> mr. majority leader, the republicans are banging away at the democrats and the obama administration on job creation . do you think yesterday's development on getting t.a.r.p. money to community banks, do you think that's going to have an impact and when do you think those job numbers will turn around because of that move?

    >> i think it will have an impact. but let me say the job numbers have turned around. we've lost a third less jobs or two-third less jobs this past couple of months than we lost in december and november of last year. so we're going in the right direction. we eastern not where we need to be. we need to have a plus report on job creation . we need to have jobs for people. we're going to take additional efforts to accomplish more jobs in america. but hopefully the action was taken yesterday, and the actions in the administration has taken, and we will take legislatively in the days to come will help us get there.

    >> steny hoyer , always a pleasure.

    >> thank you, ed.

    >>> coming up, michele bachmann , another

updated 10/22/2009 7:06:25 PM ET 2009-10-22T23:06:25

White House officials and senior Senate Democrats at work on health care legislation are strongly considering a requirement for the federal government to sell insurance in direct competition with private industry, officials said Thursday, with individual states permitted to drop out of the system.

Liberals in Congress long have viewed such an approach, called a public option, as an essential ingredient of the effort to overhaul the nation's health care system, and President Barack Obama has said frequently he favors it. But he has also made clear it is not essential to the legislation he seeks, a gesture to Democratic moderates who generally have shied away from it.

Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said in separate interviews they had been told the private negotiations were considering the plan. Neither senator is involved in the discussions, but said they had been in touch with fellow lawmakers who are.

The White House had no comment on the remarks by Nelson and Conrad. Other officials said no final decisions had been made, and it seemed clear any such provision would generate resistance among moderate Senate Democrats.

The issue has been one of the most vexing of the yearlong effort by Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress to remake the nation's health care system.

Vote expected in the next few weeks
Legislation taking shape in the House is also expected to include a public option, although it is unlikely states will be allowed to opt out.

After months of struggle, both houses are expected to vote in the next few weeks on sweeping legislation that expands coverage to millions of people who lack it, ban industry practices such as denial of coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and slow the growth of medical care in general.

The House and Senate measures aim to expand coverage to about 95 percent of the population, and include federal subsidies to help lower-income families afford coverage and permit small businesses to provide it for their employees.

Video: Pelosi: Bill will have a public option The two bills differ at many points, although both are paid for through a combination of cuts in future Medicare spending and higher taxes — a levy on high-cost insurance policies in the case of the Senate and an income surcharge on very high income individuals and families.

In the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference she and her leadership were entering the "final stages" of assembling a health care bill to be voted on this fall.

The Senate negotiations have proceeded in unusual secrecy, attended by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, two Senate committee chairmen, Sen., Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and a small group of administration officials led by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments