With just weeks left to affect the content of health care reform, a leading progressive group is launching a last-ditch effort to ensure that a public option for insurance coverage ends up in the final bill.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is targeting four liberal members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate, urging them to filibuster legislation that does not include a government-run insurance option. Titled the "We need a hero" campaign," the list of targets includes Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as well as Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Al Franken (D-Minn.)
Already, the PCCC is making moves in the media markets of the first two. On Monday, the group put out a television ad urging Feingold to fulfill President Obama's pledge to include a public option in any insurance reform. On Tuesday, it followed with a round of 10,000 robocalls-a-day in Vermont, in which a local resident pleads with Sanders to block a bill without the public plan.
"[The current plan] just mandates that people buy insurance from big insurance companies," says Northfield, Vermont resident AJ Van Tassel-Sweet. "That's not reform."
In addition to the television and robocall efforts, the PCCC is also running online ads in the states of each of the aforementioned four senators. It is certainly an uphill battle, since each of these members already voted for a version of reform that did not include the public plan and none have expressed the die-hard willingness to hold up the process should the final vote be on a similar piece of legislation.
It's curious, however, that the PCCC is going after Franken, as confirmed by the group's co-founder Adam Green. The Minnesota Democrat has kept an incredibly low profile during the health care debate (as he has throughout much of his first year in office). And while it seems fairly evident that Franken's sentiments do lie with PCCC's policy objectives, it's hard to imagine a freshmen member of the caucus -- especially one who's been eager to avoid the spotlight -- going that far out on the line.