Congressional Democrats are starting to voice their anger at President Obama over the way health care legislation has been compromised, blaming him for not fighting harder.
"The president keeps listening to Rahm Emanuel," said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). "No public option, no extending Medicare to 55, no nothing, an excise tax, God!" he exclaimed about the Senate health care bill to Roll Call. "The insurance lobby is taking over."
Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.), told Politico of Senate delays, "It's ridiculous, and the Obama administration is sitting on the sidelines. That's nonsense."*
While many House Democrats have expressed anger with the Senate for the watered-down bill, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) argued that it was really Obama who let centrists take control. "Snowe? Stupak? Lieberman? Who left these people in charge?" he said. "It's time for the president to get his hands dirty. Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise. We need the president to stand up for the values our party shares. We must stop letting the tail wag the dog of this debate."
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) similarly suggested that blaming Lieberman was ignoring the real culprit -- Obama.
"This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don't think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth," said Feingold. "I think they could have been higher. I certainly think a stronger bill would have been better in every respect."
As Politico's Craig Gordon noted about the president's health care maneuvering, "Time and again, [Obama] rebuffed Democrats' requests to speak up more forcefully about what he wanted -- a strategy that allowed Obama to preserve maximum flexibility to declare victory at the end of the process, no matter what the final bill looked like."
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), pointed to polling that suggests Democrats will face trouble with their base if they don't deliver a strong bill. "Thirty percent of Democrats will not come out and vote if there is no public option in the health care bill," she said. "What does that tell you?"
*This article originally reported that Rep. Obey said "The White House has been useless." That was Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar.
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