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Senate Progressives, Activists Prod Conservative Democrats – Get Out of the Way on Public Option

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

 

Ann Pietrangelo, “Hope for Health Care Reform Returns from the Dead.” 8 October 2009. – Pietrangelo notes reasons for optimism regarding reform noting support from some unusual, conservative voices.

 

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.

 

See Also:

 

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.

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Chart via flickr user - Nancy Pelosi, uploaded Sept. 29, 2009 - by way of CreativeCommons.org

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27 comments

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11:52AM PDT on Oct 13, 2009

If I recall, Medicare was changed under the Bush administration as a sort of "cost savings solution." I may be wrong, but I believe the doughnut hole and having to take out a secondary insurance were both introduced under Bush. If we rescind these two things, Medicare really is a great health care solution.

1:44AM PDT on Oct 13, 2009

Coo! Roger,

Hopefully we can get others to agree, even folks on differing points along the political spectrum as you and I are. Then we won't saddle future generations with the burden or our excesses.

And maybe we'll even leave America and the world a little better off than we found it ... kind of a Kaizen, 6 Sigma sorta thing. (Whaaaa? A bleeding heart advancing corporate philosophy for government??? Life is full of irony ... :^)

All my best,

-c

3:18PM PDT on Oct 12, 2009

Cindy, I agree !00% with everything you said. If we could get away from deficit spending and pay for things with actual tax revenue instead of Treasury bonds, we would be much better off. As large as our federal government is there will always be government waste. But I was never in favor of GWB's tax cuts when spending stayed at the same level or increased. He totally undid the balanced budget that President Clinton had in place when he left office. I realize that unforseen emergencies like Hurricane Katrina and 9-11 took place on his wstch, but then was the time to increase tax revenue to cover those additional expenses, not to implement his tax cuts.

2:48PM PDT on Oct 12, 2009

[continued from below]

Somewhere between what we have now, and the Eisenhower years is probably a good idea. In truth, Americans like all the stuff: roads, military, food and help for the poor, medical coverage for seniors, and don't even think of touching Social Security.

So we need to also pay for the stuff, and vote for responsible candidates. And on tax policy, we gotta raise the top marginal rate to something north of 40% and probably nearer 50% ... right now it's 35% of everything above about $380 grand a year.

Then we won't have to raid things and hope the Chinese don't run out of Yuans they can buy Dollars with and loan to us.

-cindy

2:43PM PDT on Oct 12, 2009

Hi Roger,

"Cindy, I am not coming down on you personally. I find you to be a very intelligent, committed, caring person. I just have had bad experiences with Government run programs and when the government raids the Social Security trust fund, the Defense Department budget and other programs to fund nonrelated porkbarrel projects"

No argument. Creative budgeting is nothing new, nor good by any means ... the the level of "creativity" has increased since Eisenhower, probably the last true fiscal conservative. And I think a much better president than many would think ... with the saying, "America doesn't need a president; Eisenhower was proof of that."

But in reality, he did much without fan fare, and he was a stickler for not spending beyond our means. Still, he initiated a huge spending (buy many multiples of repayment) with the Interstate Highway system ... something he came to admire in the post WWII German occupation (Autobahn, a very good Nazi Germany legacy.)

Plus, he maintained the higher post WWII tax policies or Truman (near 80%), and left the country in such great shape that JFK could lower it to around 40% ... and thus began our love of voting for "I won't tax you candidates" and the resulting deficit spending and debt.

[continued above]

1:06PM PDT on Oct 12, 2009

Cindy, I am not coming down on you personally. I find you to be a very intelligent, committed, caring person. I just have had bad experiences with Government run programs and when the government raids the Social Security trust fund, the Defense Department budget and other programs to fund nonrelated porkbarrel projects, it doesn't give me much faith that they wouldn't do it to the trust fund set aside to fund a government run public option or singe payer plan. Probably not during the current administration but sometime in the future. Future administrations and congresses can change the rules, as has happened in the past (as you well know). It is too tempting to have money available in a fund that is not currently being used (as was done with the Social Securuty trust fund) and not use it for a pet project when no other revenue is available. I know that safeguards are written into the healthcare reform bills but they were in the Social Security Law too and that didn't stop congress from raiding it's trust fund. I don't disagree that we need healthcare reform and that a public option would be a good idea but past history has proven that our congress has a way of ruining a good thing.

11:59AM PDT on Oct 12, 2009

"Cindy, My wife is on Medicare part B and when I was laid off for almost 5 months last winter we tried to get her enrolled in Medicare Part A because my insurance only covers her if I work at least 1 hr. per month. Medicare was going to charge us a large penalty because we didn't try to enroll during her initial eligibility period, even though she was eligible for the special enrollment period because she had been covered up to that point by my health insurance policy. On the Medicare part B coverage, Medicare is very slow compared to my health insurance at processing claims and requires a lot of extra paperwork that my insurance does not require."

Sorry to hear. I think we should fix both problems you mention, by:

1. Expand access to MediCare (I'd support 100% of Americans)

2. Reduce paperwork (give everyone a card; swipe it and get services ... easy. It's exactly how it's done in the UK, who spend less on health care both in per capita and as a percent of GDP*).


*Supporting data:

% GDP

US = 15.4 %
UK = 8.1 %

Per capita

US= $4,271 (not every covered)
UK= $1,675 (converted from Pound Sterling; everyone covered)

Life expectancy

US= 78.11 years
UK= 79.01 years (less if you're a soccer fan ... kidding!)

Infant mortality, per 1000 births

US= 6.26 deaths
UK= 4.85 deaths

Draw your own conclusions, but I think it's self explanatory.

-cindy

11:45AM PDT on Oct 12, 2009

Hmmm? OK; Pelosi was the most, or among the most, liberal. Any thoughts on why you believe that? Liberal because of X? (X being something)

Meanwhile, if you believe that Truman and Nixon governed in times of plenty, you're reading different history books than I.

Truman inherited huge debt (WWII was a smidge spendy as you may recall) and he had to contend with the cost of helping Brittian out of bankruptcy while also funding the Marshall Plan ... not to mention the huge cost of the Berlin Airlift. (That's before spending a dime at home, which he spent many of.) Only toward the end of Truman's 7.8 year tenure had prosperity returned to America, in an unprecidented way (even with a top marginal taxt rate near 80% ... ask Limbaugh, et al, about that. High taxes and unprecendented prosperity? Go figure?)

Nixon meanwhile was so upside-down with the Viet Nam war that he took us off the gold standard to help fund it. The late 60s / early 70s marked the end of the golden years.)

Perhaps that's why we're looking at health reform; in tough times, save where you can. And the reforms will save money. If they wouldn't, the health care industry would fight for the reforms, not against them, if more cash would accrue their way.

In summary, saying something is does not make it so. Opinions about which flower is most beautiful? Fine. But if you're making assertions about what is true? You gotta back it up or you're just blowing wind.

-cindy

9:48AM PDT on Oct 12, 2009

Cindy, to answer your other questions, Nancy Pelosi is one of the most liberal Democrats in congess. When committee chairs were chosen, only the most liberal Democrats were chosen. I realize the Republicans did this also, which doesn't make it right and creates much partizenship in commitees. No wonder they can't get anything accomplished. I am a moderate and have never voted a staight party ticket. I don't listen to conservative or liberal talk radio or Fox TV because the facts are too few and far between. I also don't put much trust in NBC, ABC or CBS to get my facts. I rely mostly on independant research, the library and firsthand experience. I am 60 years old and have done a lot of travelling and have experienced the mistakes of past administrations since 1949. We can't afford to keep growing our federal government when the economy is in the poor shape that it is in. Unemployment is still rising and since the government only counts the unemployed that are drawing unemployment checks, the rate is much higher than the figures they give each period. The plans that both Nixon and Truman presented were both during much better economic times and were good plans, but we could afford them at that time and missed the opportunity. If our government hadn't raided the 2.5 Trillion dollar Social Security trust fund thru the years and replaced the money with basicly IOU's to fund porkbarrel projects it would be self sufficiant form the interest it would have made all this time.

9:01AM PDT on Oct 12, 2009

Cindy, My wife is on Medicare part B and when I was laid off for almost 5 months last winter we tried to get her enrolled in Medicare Part A because my insurance only covers her if I work at least 1 hr. per month. Medicare was going to charge us a large penalty because we didn't try to enroll during her initial eligibility period, even though she was eligible for the special enrollment period because she had been covered up to that point by my health insurance policy. On the Medicare part B coverage, Medicare is very slow compared to my health insurance at processing claims and requires a lot of extra paperwork that my insurance does not require. The slow processing of claims becomes a huge problem when it severely affects your otherwise excellent credit rating and healthcare providers start turning your unpaid medicare bills over to collection agencies. To get problems straightened out with Medicare you have to take off from work and lose that income to go to the nearest Medicare office (which inmy case is 15 miles away) then you have to wait in line sometimes for hours to get to speak to someone and find out what paperwork is needed to resolve the problem. Of course, none of this can be handled over the phone. If the government option is going to be run like that we don't want it or need it! We do not need to add 53 more departments in our federal government to handle government run healthcare. The federal government payroll is way too large now and we can't continue to gro

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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