CommunityFDL Action




$40,000,000 $66,120
0 Commitments 14 Commitments

I’ve written in the past about the weakness of the coalition model when it comes to progressive advocacy.  They are only as risk tolerant as their least risk-tolerant member, and they are generally good only at operating as bureaucracies — they are just not structured to run in campaign mode.  The complete failure of HCAN to conduct the health care battle on behalf of those who should be fighting hardest is a case in point.

HCAN started out with $500,000 from each member of its 13 member steering committee members ($6.5 million), got $10 million from Atlantic Philanthropies, more from George Soros, and came out of the gate announcing that they had an "initial infusion" of $40 million  and would spend $25 million in paid media. (Almost none of which, by the way, went to advertising on blogs — almost all HCAN ads were co-branded with partners and placed directly by those partners.  They kept Soros’s and Gara Lamarche’s money for themselves.)

And what do they have to show for their efforts?   Well, here’s the top target from their just released August field report:

CHAMPIONS—in the House and Senate, we need our champions in the House to step up and move colleagues to build support, we need commitments in the House that Members won’t vote for a watered down bill and in the Senate that Members will work to strengthen the HELP bill

I emailed HCAN’s director, Richard Kirsch, and asked him how many "commitments" HCAN had gotten from members in the past year.  He replied that we should talk about it later in the week. I said I wasn’t available later in the week and it was a simple question.  Didn’t hear back.

As far as I know, the answer is "zero."

schakowsky.thumbnail.jpgSince we began our whip campaign at FDL on June 23, we’ve spent $22,185.61 of the $66,120 we’ve raised.  That includes paying NYCEve, Slinkerwink, Dave Meyer, Marisa McNee, Mike Stark, and two additional people to do state blog outreach and our email campaign.  It also includes travel expenses to bring Hilda Sarkisian and her husband here from Los Angeles, and NYCEve from NY to DC twice. 

In 40 days, we’ve gotten 14 members to commit to vote against any health care bill that has co-ops or triggers. 

That works out to $1,584.65 per vote for 14 votes at FDL, and $40 million for zero votes at HCAN.

We’re going to be looking for how successfully HCAN achieves its objectives and running a tally of how many commitments they get this August in our sidebar, with millions of dollars at their disposal.  

Maybe they can start with Jan Schakowsky, who is one of their Congressional liaisons, and whose husband Bob Creamer serves as a consultant to HCAN?  Will she commit to vote against any bill that has co-ops or triggers, consistent with the HCAN pledge?

Unless HCAN is little more than the liberal gravy train for Congressional spouses, It seems like something they ought to be able to do.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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