Healthcare reform advocate blasts White House for caving on public option in new book

The former head of the liberal advocacy group Health Care for America Now claims in a new book that the White House was weak-kneed in its push for progressive priorities such as a public option, and tried to get him fired when he spoke up.

Richard Kirsch directed the group for three years during the healthcare reform debate. He makes the allegations in a new book, Fighting For Our Health, which Talking Points Memo profiled Wednesday morning.

In the book, TPM reports, Kirsch says then-Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina — who is now managing the presidents reelection campaign — tried to get him fired after he criticized the Senate healthcare plan that became the basis for the law. Most observers dont believe Democrats ever had the 60 votes they needed in the Senate to pass a public option.

Messina took a tone that clearly discouraged dissent, Kirsch wrote. I did find out that the White House had complained about me to major unions on HCANs steering committee.