At least I sure hope he's being played. Klein is in contact with the White House. Unsurprisingly, he reports that there is a bitter debate over health care reform inside the Obama administration. There are clear hints of this including a leak to politico by someone eager to triangulate the lefty blogs.
However, I think that someone has managed to convince Klein that the right wing if the Obama administration is way waaaaay to the right of any place sane. The aim would be to threaten us with insanity and make us relieved when the Obama administration just moves as far right as anyone thought possible yesterday.
The second camp is not universal at all. This camp believes the bill needs to be scaled back sharply in order to ensure passage. Covering 20 million people isn't as good as covering 40 million people, but it's a whole lot better than letting the bill fall apart and covering no one at all. It's also a success of some sort, and it gives you something to build on. What that sacrifices in terms of structure it gains in terms of political appeal. This camp is largely headed by members of the political team.
This would be insane. As Klein mentions further up in his post the health insurance companies want universality. In fact they demand it. Universality was the condition on their support for health care reform. The first key step in Obama's humpble strategy (based on the sound principle of look at what Ira Magaziner did and do the opposite) was letting Baucus add universality. Removing it would be a huge slap in the face of Baucus, Ignani (head health insurance industry lobbyist) the Senate HELP committee and the three house committees and the people of the US who consistently support universality in polls.
It would be crazy.
The only possible explanation is that they read this post by me and are sending a terrible threat to the health care industry. Get the bill passed or we will bankrupt you.
Now if this is 11 dimensional chess it is brilliant (well except a bit transparent). Leaking a truly awful, terrible very bad idea might make some lefties, insurance company executives and all relevant chairmen intensely relieved when Obama doesn't endorse it publicly.
I'm sure the political team also wanted to include a killing puppies plank in their proposal, but Obama told them that he's afraid to drive the crazies crazier.