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Let’s Stop Max Baucus’s Bipartisan Fetish In Health Reform

Earlier, I was attacked by several commentators on DailyKos about how I was glad that some progressive Democrats had voted against the ACES climate change bill that passed the House because these progressive Democrats felt that the ACES bill was weak and deferred too much to the coal and nuclear industries. What they missed was my point that progressive Democrats need to stand up for the right kind of legislation.

Why were these concessions even there in the final package? What was the purpose of these concessions? Did we even really need these concessions? While I’m happy that 83% of carbon emissions will be reduced, I’m not happy about the concessions to the coal and nuclear industries. And they weren’t necessary from my point of view.

Will we be happy about such concessions when it comes to health reform? That’s the question we’ll be asking when we’ll be attacked nonstop by Democrats and other so-called "pragmatic" progressives if we support over 40 progressive Democrats in fighting for health reform with a strong public option by refusing to vote for a sham health reform package that doesn’t include a strong, robust public option.

That’s the purpose of the Public Option Whip Tool being used by FireDogLake, and which is being promoted by nyceve here at DailyKos as well. Here are the principles of the Public Option Whip Tool because as Jane Hamsher says, we could have 105 Democrats today who support a public option, but we need 40 progressive Democrats who WILL vote against any bill that doesn’t have a public option that is:

  1. Available nationwide
  2. on day one
  3. and accountable to Congress and the voters

Right now, a handful of Senators have the ability to dictate the progress of legislation and these Senators are the ones that are bleating out against the public option, and showing off in full display their bipartisanship fetishes. They have the upper hand, and right now, we need to change that power dynamic by shifting it over to the House progressive Democrats where the White House, the leadership, has to listen to them and concede to their demands in order for a health reform bill with a public option to make it to the President’s desk.

We need to find out these 40 progressive Democrats in the House, and make them the power players in asking them to vote against any bill that comes out of the Senate, which would be Max Baucus’s precious little Finance Bill, that doesn’t include a strong public option. It’s what the Public Option Tool is all about, and Jane Hamsher’s right in her post at FireDogLake about what it means. The truth is that we can’t wait to fix a crappy bill in the conference committee.

There are too many unknowns in play, and I can’t go along with the optimistic take by Ezra Klein about the conference committee being where magically any subpar bill from the Senate can be magically fixed in the conference committee. We can’t afford for the Tri-Caucus health reform package to be weakened any further, or to have the public option stripped out in conference committee. It’d be a mandated bailout of the private insurance industry, and no amount of flowery rhetoric about cost controls and lowered premiums can change that fact.

It’s why I want you to use the Public Option Tool next week to call your progressive Members of Congress and find out where they stand. The public option is the line in the sand for me, and it needs to be the line in the sand for 40 progressive Democrats as well!

Also, want to bring some serious local grassroots smackdown on Senators like Baucus, Wyden, Conrad, Lincoln , Landrieu, Hagan, and Feinstein? Let me tell you how we can do this. We’re going to use President Obama’s website, Organizing For America, to accomplish the greatest smackdown of all time this weekend.

I want you to sign up with Organizing For America this weekend. Once you’ve signed up with OFA, I’d like you to go to the Health Care Action Center and take a look around. The most important tool we’ll be using in the Health Care Action Center. will be the "Contact People Near You" phonebanking tool. This is the action item agenda with the "Contact People Near You" phonebanking tool below:

1. Sign up with Organizing For America.

2. Go to the Health Care Action Center and click on the "Contact People Near You" phonebanking icon to the left of the screen, near the bottom of the page.

3. Select your state from the drop-down menu. This is where the fun action comes in!

4. Let’s say, you select Montana from the drop-down menu. It takes you to a new webpage where it has a red icon that says "Make Calls Now" with a list of 25 supporters to call. It asks you to make a report after the call, and gives you talking points. In my opinion, these are weak talking points since it doesn’t mention the public option, so I’ll be fixing that a bit.

5. So what we’ll be doing is calling 25 people, asking them if they support President Obama’s health care plan, which includes a public option to help keep private insurers honest. Then we’ll tell them to call their Senators, such as Max Baucus, Conrad, Hagan, and others, to ask them to support the public option in President Obama’s health care plan.

That’s what we’ll be doing—bringing down the grassroots smack-down at a local level by calling people in these Senators’ states. Here are the talking points for each of the states below that you can use when calling supporters from your call list. I’ll use Montana as an example first.

Montana

Hi, is [person’s name] home? My name is [blank], and I’m a volunteer with Organizing for America, the grassroots organization formed to continue bringing the change we worked for during President Obama’s campaign. How are you today? (Wait for response and make sure to engage in a conversational manner). As you might know, Organizing for America was formed after the campaign to support the President’s agenda for change.

Recently, President Obama laid out the three core principles for real health care reform in America which has to reduce costs — such as rising health care costs which are crushing the budgets of governments, businesses, individuals, and families, and they must be brought under control. Secondly, real health care reform must guarantee choice in that every American must have the freedom to choose their plan and doctor – including the choice of a public insurance option which helps keep private insurers honest and lowers the cost of the monthly premiums that we pay. The public option will be available nationwide, available on day one, and is accountable to Congress and the voters. Third, it must ensure quality care for all in that Americans must have quality and affordable health care. The need for action in reforming our health care could not be greater; the costs for premiums are rising 4 times the rate of wages and families and small businesses can no longer afford their existing health care plan. If health care reform is going to be passed it cannot wait another year. For American families, the status quo is unacceptable.

Do you support these principles for health reform? I also would like to ask you to call your Senator, Max Baucus, at (202) 224-2651 on Monday to ask him to support President Obama’s health reform by helping pass a strong public option which keeps private insurers honest.

Here’s the list of states that we should call that presently have Senators that are threatening to block President Obama’s health reform, which includes a strong competitive public option to keep insurers honest. So, when you use the "Contact People Near You" phonebanking tool on OFA and use the generic talking points which I provided, I want you to choose one of these states to call and to have the phone number of the Senator ready on hand to give to the local person you’re talking to when you ask that person to call his or her Senator to support the public option in President Obama’s health reform bill.

  • California–Senator Dianne Feinstein (202) 224-3841
  • Louisiana–Senator Mary Landrieu (202) 224-5824
  • Montana–Senator Max Baucus (202) 224-2651
  • Nebraska–Senator Ben Nelson (202) 224-6551
  • North Carolina–Senator Kay Hagan (202) 224-6342
  • North Dakota–Senator Kent Conrad (202) 224-2043
  • Oregon–Senator Ron Wyden (202) 224-5244

Hope you’ll be signing up with OFA this weekend to bring some serious smack-down at the grassroots level to these corporate Senate Democrats!

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