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Support Progressives on the Public Option: Time to Get the Phone Lines Buzzing

As Raul Grijalva begins his whip count today of the progressive block to find out where they stand on their public option commitment, Chris Bowers writes:

[T]here are good reasons to doubt the strength of the Progressive Block right now. The White House seems to be doubting it too, given that last week they never followed up on a meeting with the Progressive Block and instead scheduled a meeting with Senate Conservadems. In order to resuscitate the effort, the Progressive Caucus whip count needs to produce at least 39 House Democrats who are willing to sign a letter to President Obama saying they will vote against health care legislation without a public option. If they pull it off, their position within the overall health care debate, negotiations, and media coverage should increase. Failure to do so will give them little leverage to make sure that a public option is in the final conference report for the health care bill later this year.

I’m going to quibble a bit with Chris. Yes it will take at least that number of Democrats to stop any bill from passing, but I don’t think the Progressives need to have that many to show strength.

If the White House and House leadership want to pass a bill without a public plan, the problem they have is not getting the number of progressive "no" votes down to 39 in order to still achieve a 218 majority. It’s that they have to get it down to 10 or 12. Because I don’t care what’s in this bill, once they get it down to 28 or so, they have to get a ConservaDem or vulnerable freshman to vote "yes" who thinks they will lose their seat if they do it, and at a certain point that triggers a rebellion. At least that’s the general perception (and once you add the freshman panic factor, they think it starts a whole lot sooner, like 60). And there are ConservaDems like Gene Taylor and John Adler who have already stated that they won’t vote for a health care bill, period.

The teabaggers aren’t strong on nuance and won’t care whether there’s a public plan or not. The anti-insurance industry campaign the White House wouldn’t let anyone run last summer because they didn’t want to drive AHIP from the bargaining table is now okay because they are desperate to get "permission to buy" in these districts — even Republicans hate insurance companies. I know Blue Dogs who have openly wondered why such a populist campaign wasn’t run in their districts to give them cover from the start.

I can conservatively count 16 votes I feel good about. And even at that number they have real power.

Chris, Mike Lux and Anthony Weiner are all right about one thing though: if Progressives cave now, no one will ever take them seriously again. If the 60 members who signed a letter saying they "simply cannot vote for such a proposal" that does not have a public option don’t abide by that promise, they are rendering their entire caucus powerless in every battle to come.

We’ve got Mike Stark up on the Hill asking members if they plan to stick by their promise, and we’ve got people reporting what they hear when they call offices.

Call these members and let them know — they gave their word, and we trust them to keep it. We want them to sign their name once again to Rep. Grijalva’s whip effort.

Let us know what you hear.

CommunityFDL Action

Support Progressives on the Public Option: Time to Get the Phone Lines Buzzing

As Raul Grijalva begins his whip count today of the progressive block to find out where they stand on their public option commitment, Chris Bowers writes:

[T]here are good reasons to doubt the strength of the Progressive Block right now. The White House seems to be doubting it too, given that last week they never followed up on a meeting with the Progressive Block and instead scheduled a meeting with Senate Conservadems. In order to resuscitate the effort, the Progressive Caucus whip count needs to produce at least 39 House Democrats who are willing to sign a letter to President Obama saying they will vote against health care legislation without a public option. If they pull it off, their position within the overall health care debate, negotiations, and media coverage should increase. Failure to do so will give them little leverage to make sure that a public option is in the final conference report for the health care bill later this year.

I’m going to quibble a bit with Chris.  Yes it will take at least that number of Democrats to stop any bill from passing, but I don’t think the Progressives need to have that many to show strength.

If the White House and House leadership want to pass a bill without a public plan, the problem they have is not getting the number of progressive "no" votes down to 39 in order to still achieve a 218 majority.   It’s that they have to get it down to 10 or 12.  Because I don’t care what’s in this bill, once they get it down to 28 or so, they have to get a ConservaDem or vulnerable freshman to vote "yes" who thinks they will lose their seat  if they do it, and at a certain point that triggers a rebellion.  At least that’s the general perception (and once you add the freshman panic factor, they think it starts a whole lot sooner, like 60).  And there are ConservaDems  like Gene Taylor and John Adler who have already stated that they won’t vote for a health care bill, period.  

The teabaggers aren’t strong on nuance and won’t care whether there’s a public plan or not.  The anti-insurance industry campaign the White House wouldn’t let anyone run last summer because they didn’t want to drive AHIP from the bargaining table is now okay because they are desperate to get "permission to buy" in these districts — even Republicans hate insurance companies.  I know Blue Dogs who have openly wondered why such a populist campaign wasn’t run in their districts to give them cover from the start.

I can conservatively count 16 votes I feel good about.  And even at that number they have real power.

Chris, Mike Lux and Anthony Weiner are all right about one thing though:  if Progressives cave now, no one will ever take them seriously again.  If the 60 members who signed a letter saying they "simply cannot vote for such a proposal" that does not have a public option don’t abide by that promise, they are rendering their entire caucus powerless in every battle to come.

We’ve got Mike Stark up on the Hill asking members if they plan to stick by their promise, and we’ve got people reporting what they hear when they call offices.  

Call these members and let them know — they gave their word, and we trust them to keep it.  We want them to sign their name once again to Rep. Grijalva’s whip effort.

Let us know what you hear.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. 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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