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“Silver Bullet” In The Head For the Public Option

Slinkerwink has a powerful video up at Daily Kos on the abominable Tom Carper "compromise" that lets states opt-out of a public option, and what it would mean to the poor in her home state of Texas. I skimmed the comments and I shake my head. I haven’t heard such cold-heartedness toward those who are perceived as "undeserving" for having the temerity to live in a state run by Republicans since Reagan launched his war on welfare queens.

The plan is endorsed by Richard Kirsch, the HCAN director and all-around teabagger sage who on August 13 uttered those famous words, "We are absolutely surprised at the way that the right focused so much on this as soon as August began." Carper, as many will remember, is the guy who said it was the Finance Committee’s job to honor sweetheart deals that the White House cut with PhRMA, which forbids the government from negotiating for prescription drug prices.

That really ought to be all that anybody needs to know about how wrong-headed the "opt out" plan is, but apparently not.

The fact that anyone is taking this seriously this morning, or celebrating the fact that "red" states will opt out and screw themselves, is the price we pay for having talked about the health care debate in purely political terms. It’s something that has concerned me a great deal of late, and I’m more guilty than most. Yes, it’s necessary to discuss politics, and it’s what I personally do, but Eve Gittelson, my partner in this fight, has always been the moral heart of the campaign — and she always brings it back to the human side. Without that, we’re lost. Health care is a civil right. This is a matter of right and wrong, and it’s our moral obligation to heal the sick and leave no one behind. Eve always remembers that.

It’s time we got back to that.

I’ve been talking with Marshall Ganz lately, who trained the field organizers for the Obama campaign. We’ve been talking about reclaiming the health care battle and our Public Option Please campaign, which launches today, attempts to reframe the health care debate around moral, human terms. If ever there was a demonstration of how badly this was needed, the cold-blooded, politically "convenient" response to the Carper plan is it.

Sadly, I do tend to think in political terms, and will continue to do so. But that has its value, too. So, before we go to the moral high ground later today with POP, let’s spend a minute on the moral low ground.

Fuck that Carper noise and anyone from the veal pen who tries to sell it. Let them eat cake:

1) Call Atlantic Philanthropies, which has funded $25 million in HCAN ads, and ask them why a Bermuda- based company is running partisan political attack ads in the US. As a foreign company they can’t engage in political activity, and if you go and count the number of attack ads HCAN has run, you’ll find they are all against Republicans. Atlantic got slammed for the same thing during the immigration fight. And no, I do not find those soft-ball ads telling Baron Hill how wonderful it would be to have health care compelling, and neither will the FEC. Ask Atlantic when they became an arm of the DNC. For that matter, ask the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, too. Make Rahm spend a day trying to save their tax status. Let them know we’ll be revisiting this every time Richard Kirsch (or HCAN or any of their affiliated organizations — CAF, USAction, their employees, consultants, assignees or "fellows") is out there trying to torpedo everything that’s been won. Because let’s face it, nobody would be offering up a marginally less-worse compromise unless they had to. They’re stuck. They’re sweating. That’s a good thing. Let them stay there. Only a nitwit or a hack would throw them a life preserver.

2) Call members of Congress who signed the letter saying they would vote against any health care bill that doesn’t have a public option tied to Medicare rates. Because you know what? The one that the Speaker is pushing doesn’t. So, that threshold has been met. Lynn Woolsey says they have 208 votes for Medicare +5, and that’s without leadership saying that they support it. They’re right at the door step of the 218 needed for passage, so Pelosi can stop with the bullshit about not enough support. She’s the one who said Medicare rates would save $85 billion. When did fulfilling the White House’s deals with the AMA and the hospitals move to the top of her list of priorities?

And go say "hi" to Eve on her POP diary this morning. As I said, we’ll have more later. But this is where this battle has to go in order for it to become a movement that can achieve universal health care, not just a short-term political battle. Her heart, and the heart of those who are willing to get arrested because they believe passionately in social justice for all, is the thing that will carry us to victory in the battle for universal health care.

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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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