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Obama Reaffirms Support For Public Option

That didn't take long.

As we noted in the Strategy Memo this morning, the Wall Street Journal ran a story based on an interview with Rahm Emanuel, in which the chief of staff seemed to indicate the White House was willing to compromise on the public option in a health care plan. "The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest. The goal is non-negotiable; the path is," he said.

That comment is fairly consistent with what has been said in the past. But the White House has just released a statement in the president's name reiterating his view that a public option is an important mechanism for keeping down costs.

"I am pleased by the progress we're making on health care reform and still believe, as I've said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest. I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals."

The statement notably does not say a public option is the only way to bring down costs, just "one of the best ways." But the White House evidently does not want to seem too eager to compromise on that component, and perhaps Emanuel went too far in that regard.