Senate Progressives, Activists Prod Conservative Democrats – Get Out of the Way on Public Option
Rachel Maddow put her finger on it during her Wednesday, Oct. 7 broadcast. While discussing the politics of health care reform with Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, Maddow remarked, “We are no longer talking about Republicans at all…” The fight over meaningful reform as it applies to members of congress has become a fight among Democrats.
Indeed, at this point, the only contingent capable of holding up the works is a handful of conservative, “Blue Dog” Democrats. As the senate deliberates over the two bills that made it through their committees, the Blue Dogs may want to consider hiring additional help to absorb the increase in call volume, as progressives within congress and throughout the nation direct their resources and voices at them.
Maddow explains in this snippet from her Oct. 7 broadcast:
Progressive Senators put Public Option Desires in Writing:
Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH-D), and 29 like minded colleagues, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV-D) expressing their expectation that a public option be included in the senate’s finished legislative product.
From the October 8 letter:
We recognize that the two Committees with jurisdiction over health reform – the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee – have taken two very different approaches with respect to this issue. However, a strong public option has resounding support among Senate Democrats – every Democrat on HELP, three quarters of those on Finance, and what we believe is a majority of the caucus.
There is always the budget reconciliation back door to thwart Republican obstruction. Its use may still be required if the Blue Dogs don’t come around.
Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) Petition Harry Reid:
Sen. Reid isn’t a Blue Dog per se, but his leadership position makes him a logical target for progressive activists. As Maddow reported above, the PCCC has initiated a petition calling on Reid to take uncooperative Democrats out behind the woodshed.
The petition, itself, is brief and direct, employing the above clip from the Rachael Maddow Show, quoting the MSNBC host:
Any Democratic senators who support a Republican attempt to block a vote on health care reform should be stripped of their leadership titles. Americans deserve a clean up-or-down vote on health care.
Author of The Plum Line, Greg Sargent called the effort “intriguing” in his October 8 post, explaining:
The idea behind this latest pressure campaign is to draw attention to the fact that Dem Senators queasy about the reform proposal have the option of voting to get the bill past the GOP filibuster first, then voting No on the bill later. It’s also meant to spotlight the fact that Reid has tools at his disposal to enforce party discipline if he so chooses.
At the time of Sargent’s posting, the DCCC petition had 15,000 signatures. As I write, they have 29,300, rapidly on their way to their goal of 35,000 signatures.
MSNBC’ Olbermann Proposes National Association of Free Clinics Action:
Host of MSNBC‘s Countdown, Keith Olbermann dedicated his October 7 broadcast to the support of American health care reform. His passionate and personal “special comment” regarding the need for reform is well worth viewing in its entirety; however, toward the end of the program, Olbermann called on his viewers to pressure the resistant Democratic senators, calling them out by name.
What Olbermann has proposed is for free health care fairs to be held in five cities within states represented by the six Democratic senators who have “yet to rule out joining a Republican filibuster.” Further, Olbermann has proven himself willing to put his money where his mouth is, donating $50,000 to the cause.
From Countdown with Keith Olbermann, October 8, 2009:
I’ll include some additional relevant links below, but now I’d like to invite you to share your thoughts via the comments section below. Will the efforts listed above be successful?
Despite the fact that conservative advocacy groups will also be stirring up their members, I’m inclined to think that they will. At this point the Democrats — progressive, moderate, conservative, or otherwise – can’t afford to be held up by a Republican filibuster. Doing so could damage their chances in the 2010 midterm elections and could preclude the chances of a health care reform bill, altogether.
Ultimately, the Blue Dogs will subject a bill with a strong public option to a senate vote, which they may or may not support, and it will pass. They’ll do so, in part because of the activist pressure described above, but mostly because they’re well aware that joining a Republican filibuster on this matter would bring about a political death sentence for all of them.
Elsewhere on Care2:
Petition – Tell the Senate, “Health Care is a Right, Not a Priviledge“
On Rep. Grayson, Political Apologies, and the Health Care Debate 4 October 2009. – My previous assessment that conservative Democrats are way off on their political risk calculations pertaining to the public option.
Jane Hamsher, “Public Option Please (POP): Because Health Care is a Human Right.” FireDogLake.com, 8 October 2009. – Hamsher announces the formation of a new non-profit organization dedicated to health care reform.
The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC.com, “Health Reformers Play Hardball.” 7 October 2009 broadcast. – This is the full clip from which the PCCC derived their petition clip(above). Within this segment, Maddow discusses the progressive pressure being brought to bear with NEWSWEEK’s Howard Fineman.
Progressive Blue Prints, “It’s time for Progressives to ‘Get to Work’…” 4 October 2009. – Twitter user @EileenLeft provides an action plan for different social networking sites and progressive activists in general. Post includes some useful tips and contact information for Blue Dog Dems.
Chart via flickr user - Nancy Pelosi, uploaded Sept. 29, 2009 - by way of CreativeCommons.org