With public option plans now a part of health care reform bills in both the House and Senate, liberals want to know when President Barack Obama is going to grow a spine and start acting like a leader.
And they’re patience is wearing thin.
“I hope the President speaks out strongly for the public option – this health care bill really becomes his at this point,” Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown tells Politico, which is reporting that Democratic Senators and House members have been “grumbling for weeks” that the President lacks leadership on the issue.
Now they want action.
Darcy Burner, executive director of the American Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation, which favors a robust public plan, said the fact that the White House was “hands off” has forced Reid and other leaders to take political risks they otherwise might not have incurred.
“They have not played a strong leadership role in this fight,” she said.
Administration officials have been annoyed by what they percieve as a drumbeat of unfair criticism — much of it from unnamed Hill Democrats. They say they have given Reid and other Democrats the freedom to craft a deal acceptable to members — and have only expressed a preference for the public option plan that stands the best chance of passing.
The flashpoint for many liberals was the president’s huddle last week with Senate Democrats — a meeting in which reportedly he remained noncommittal about the specifics of reform and re-asserted his “preference” but not outright support for the public option.