The AFL-CIO is warning President Obama not to drop the ‘public option’ from health care reform.
And some democrats are wondering if trying for compromise on that issue and others in the health care fight is a waste of time.
"The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it," said President Obama on Saturday.
Four days after he signaled he might drop the public option, President Obama is getting a health care warning from the powerful AFL-CIO, that claims 10 million union members.
"Our message is: you know we can't do health reform without costs control. The only proposal that's on the table now to control costs in the short term is the public health insurance plan option," said Gerry Shea of the AFL-CIO.
Backers say competition from government insurance would force private plans to improve care and lower premiums.
And top aides say President Obama has not given up on it.
"His preference is for public option if others have ideas about how we can institute choice and competition, he's happy to look at those," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Thousands of customers say they're joining a boycott of Whole Foods groceries, angry that the CEO opposes universal coverage and the public option.
And a champion of the public option, Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, blew up at a town hall tormentor.
"My question to you is, why do you continue to support a Nazi policy as Obama has?" "On what planet do you spend most of your time?" asked Frank. "And you stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler!" "M'aam having an argument with you would be like trying to have an argument with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."
Republican lawmakers are adamant against the public option.
"This is not about fixing the health care system - this is about government control," said republican South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.
Some democrats now say let's pass reform, including the public option, without GOP help.
But that would require democratic unity and conservative democrats, the blue dogs, are still leery of the public option.