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Speak for a Public Option Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

Today is a day that we should all be calling into Congress in support of a public option. The public option is at a critical juncture. Senator Harry Reid has shown an inclination to support the public option. Unfortunately, Senator Max Baucus and others are trying to convince Harry Reid that the public option cannot pass, and therefore should not be included in the merged Senate bill. We can make a difference by calling our Senators and Representatives in support of a public option today.

We should support a public option because it is good policy. I, for one, don’t want to leave my health care up to the whims of CEOs who are beholden to Wall Street. Life without a public option can be foreseen in the behavior of banking executives, who have happily become welfare kings who spend on corporate jets but refuse to make loans to American small businesses.

As a society we owe our fellow citizens the inalienable right to be healthy. A public option would fulfill this societal promise by having insurance decisions be accountable to the people through their elected representatives, not misguided Wall Street tycoons. A strong public option would also make American business more competitive in the global marketplace; every other industrialized country negotiates rates nationally and leverages common buying power to ensure cheaper medicine. This is a large part of the reason why the US spends twice as much of its GDP on health care as its industrialized competitors.

A public option isn’t just good policy; it’s also good politics. Despite months of smears and fear mongering from the right, a public option still has the support of 57 to 65 percent of the American public supports a strong public option. Voters want to see real change that helps them, and not Wall Street-backed lobbyists; what lingering skepticism they have is a skepticism that the real change they voted for last November will be blocked by forces aligned with the status quo.

The passage of a health care reform package which includes a strong public option can end the era of cynicism about government. The passage of a health care reform package which includes a strong public option, over the objections of powerful industry forces, will prove to average Americans that government can be a force for positive change. A strong health care reform package, which includes a public option, will address the moral problems that plague our current health care system.

All of this is why many smart politicians are backing a strong public option. But that’s not enough. Call your elected representatives in the House and Senate and tell them to stand strong for the American people; tell them to stand strong for a robust public option. Speak today, or forever hold your peace.

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