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Mary Landrieu Needs To Get Her Facts Straight On The Public Option (VIDEO)

First Posted: 03/18/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 04:00 PM ET

On Wednesday evening, "Hardball" audiences were treated to the spectacle of former Vermont Governor and DNC Chair Howard Dean sparring with Senator Mary Landrieu over the current state of the health care bill.


To translate all the crosstalk, Dean's larger complaint was that the Senate has "taken away our choice" by eliminating the public option and the possibility of a Medicare buy-in. Landrieu countered with a rather teabaggy accusation that Dean wants to destroy the insurance industry, and insisted that the president never promised or promoted a public option, so the "choice" that Dean insists was taken away never really existed in the first place.

Landrieu's claim does not pass the "Look What You Can Find On Google Within Thirty Seconds" test.

CBS News's Political Hotsheet, June 11, 2009, "Obama Pushes Public Health Care Option At Town Hall":

President Obama on Thursday told a town hall audience in Green Bay, Wisc. he continues to support a government-sponsored health insurance option, or a "public plan," as a means to improve health care in the United States.

"One of the options... should be a public insurance option," the president said, addressing one of the most contentious issues in the current health care debate. "The reason is not because we want a government takeover of health care."

He said a public option would keep private companies honest and would keep prices down.

"We've got to admit the free market has not worked perfectly when it comes to health care," Mr. Obama said.

He rebuked conservative attacks that the introduction of a public plan would lead to a government "monopoly" of health care.

Now, perhaps what Landrieu really meant to say is that President Obama's promotion of a public option was insincere. If that's what she meant, she's on firmer ground. Glenn Greenwald blew out the suspected insincerities of the White House on the public option yesterday.

And Landrieu would probably have keen insight into insincere support for the public option, because she's been insincere herself. As HuffPost's Ryan Grim reported:

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) pledged her support for a public health care option less than six months before she announced opposition to such a plan, according to a signed letter she sent to a major reform coalition dated November 4th.


Landrieu had told the coalition Health Care for America Now (HCAN) in April that she supported a public option, which would compete against private plans. She signed a pledge that she supported a "choice of a private insurance plan, including keeping the insurance you have if you like it, or a public insurance plan without a private insurer middleman that guarantees affordable coverage."

Landrieu went even further and drafted a letter to HCAN specifically spelling out her support for a public option.

"HCAN principles embody an approach that actually delivers a solution of guaranteed quality, affordable health care for all in America. Under this approach, everyone gets a choice of health insurance plans, including the right to keep your current insurance, choose another private plan or to join a public health insurance plan," she wrote in April.

"Again," she concluded, "I support the HCAN Statement of Common Purpose, and I oppose the 'on your own' approaches to health care reform that go against these principles. And, I salute the efforts of the broad grassroots coalition represented by Health Care for America Now to advance this most critical of issues."

I have to say, what colors this debate for me is the fact that Landrieu also has a history of saying vastly stupid things about health care reform, like this:

LANDRIEU: I think when people hear public option they hear free health care. Everybody wants free health care. Everybody wants health care they don't have to pay for.

At the time, I noted that I was at a complete loss to explain how anyone who heard about a public plan that must be purchased as an option on a health care exchange could have surmised that it was free. Since Landrieu supported the public option in a letter to HCAN, it would have been incumbent on her to set straight any constituent of hers who may have been laboring under this weird belief. Of course, Landrieu could neither name anyone who did believe this nonsense, nor identify anyone promulgating it -- besides her, of course!

Anyway, again, let's recall that Landrieu is up to her eye teeth in health care industry money, which is probably who taught her to say that Howard Dean wants to destroy the insurance industry.

Mary Landrieu Is Against The Public Option, But Does She Know What It Is? [Matt Yglesias]

Mary Landrieu Talks Nonsense: "When People Hear Public Option They Hear Free Health Care"
Signed Letter From Landrieu Shows She Supported Public Option Before She Opposed It
Senators Who Could And/Or Will Screw Up Health Care Reform

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