There's a good argument going on Twitter about what President Obama wanted vis-a-vis the public plan, and what his team actually meant to do today. All I know is that the White House is NOT pushing back against news stories claiming that the "public option" has been essentially taken off the table by the White House.
What this means, however, is up for debate.
Because the President never insisted that a health care bill contain a public plan, he intended to use it as a bargaining chip. It was on the table so it could be consumed, or taken off, whenever the White House felt it was useful.
No mistake: The President supports a public option. He's said that he won't sign a bill that doesn't include some competitive mechanism in the health care exchange that would cover most of the uninsured, and has said that a government-run program would be the best way to do that. That's all he's said, though.
That's why Senate Democrats felt free to explore the cooperative option in the first place.
To be honest, I'm not entirely convinced that HHS Sec. Sebelius and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs went on television today in order to say anything about the public plan. Yesterday, Obama himself admitted that the public plan ain't really what the bill is about.