Gibson Worries: 'Will Obama Go to the Mat for a Public Option?'

On Monday's World News, ABC's Charles Gibson channeled the worry of liberal activists over the Obama administration's seeming retreat on government-run health insurance, the so-called "public option." Gibson fretted about Obama to White House correspondent Jake Tapper: "Will he go to the mat for a public option?" Gibson exposed how one-sided his universe of experts is: "We talked to several health care experts today, and they all said if you take out the public option in terms of insurance, there's going to be no restraints on the cost of insurance."

Conservative health care experts see empowering individuals, not government or insurance company bureaucrats, as the key to creating a more sensible health care marketplace.

MRC's Brad Wilmouth caught Gibson's exchange with Tapper, which followed Tapper's piece on how the White House backpedaling was upsetting liberals:

JAKE TAPPER: The suggestion that the White House is willing to drop the public plan has sparked a firestorm of criticism from liberal Democrats.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D-NY): If the President thinks we're going to get the votes without public option, he's got another thing coming. That won't pass the House.

TAPPER: New York Congressman Anthony Weiner said today the President could lose 100 Democratic votes in the House over this.

WEINER: Some of us who have gotten roughed pretty good at town hall meetings and stuck in there because we believe in this now kind of feel like we have a tire track on our chest where the bus that rolled over us is.

TAPPER: One compromise being worked out in the Senate is for the creation of nonprofit insurance co-ops that individuals could buy into. They would be run by those individual members, not the government, and would compete with traditional private insurance. But, Charlie, House Democrats say co-ops are just not strong enough to compete with private insurance companies and thus drive down costs. The White House says the President has not backed off anything, he still thinks the public plan is the best way to do this, but he has not drawn any lines in the sand.

CHARLES GIBSON: But will he go to the mat for a public option? He says now it's just a sliver of health care reform. But earlier he said it's a lot more than that.

TAPPER: Well, I think that's exactly right, and I think you saw just what he is not willing to go to the mat for. If it's just a sliver, why would he go to the mat for it? The President, at this point, I think there is a pragmatism that is coming over this White House. They realize that it is more important for them to pass something, even if it is incremental and not everything they wanted to pass, and so they are setting expectations lower and lower.

GIBSON: But, Jake, we talked to several health care experts today, and they all said if you take out the public option in terms of insurance, there's going to be no restraints on the cost of insurance. And one by one, it seems, the cost-saving measures are coming out of health care reform.

TAPPER: That's exactly right, and you saw over the weekend Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius also said that it looked like the end of life care provisions would also be gone from the bill. And that's another area where they had hoped to achieve real cost savings. So this bill is really being winnowed down considerably.

GIBSON: All right, Jake Tapper at the White House tonight.

-Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center.