One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

When I wrote last week that the president should vigorously step forward and push for the public option in an effort to not only guarantee affordable healthcare to all who need it, but to also, in the process, weed out lobbyist influence in Washington, this isn't what I had in mind.

Rahm Emanuel seems to support a trigger. Which might as well be nothing at all.

On Monday, Mr. Emanuel said the trigger mechanism would also accomplish the White House's goals. Under this scenario, a public plan would kick in under certain circumstances when competition was judged to be lacking. Exactly what circumstances would trigger the option would have to be worked out.

This would give lobbyists and legislators plenty of time -- up to 10 years -- to stymie and obstruct the triggering of a public option. Meanwhile, we'd all be required by law to subsidize the private healthcare industry.

But regarding my headline, we seem to be making progress, then the White House pulls back. Kay Hagan and Chuck Schumer both have forcefully endorsed the public option, then we hear this from Emanuel.

If you want a full grasp of what it's like to fight against $1.4 million a day in lobbying -- this is it.