It is decision time for the United State Senate. The Senate Democrats have a moment of truth before them: given our new system of government by 60, what sort of health insurance reform will they deliver?
Will the Democratic team be held hostage by a handful of conservative Senators, who are willing to deny their teammates the right to even vote for a truly affordable healthcare plan? Are they willing to thwart the rest of the caucus, and most importantly, what the vast majority of Americans want?
Will the majority be asked to compromise even more to accommodate the minority of the Party, preventing a strong bill that would actually work? Will two or three holdouts stand with their fellow Democrats to allow a real vote on one of the most critical issues before our nation, or will they stand in the way of the change this country voted for last November?
SEIU members -- janitors, nursing home workers, child care providers -- have spent years knocking on doors, making calls, and donating their time and money to elect candidates who promised to deliver quality and affordable healthcare for every man, woman and child in America.
And for decades now, Democratic Senators have raised campaign funds by promising that with 60 Democratic Senators, they could deliver real change for our country. Last fall, we were all repeatedly asked, "Dig deeper! We just need 60 - we have never been closer."
Well Democrats, it's show time. America elected the 60 you asked for, and America is waiting for results.
But here is the problem with reaching the magical 60: if Democrats can't deliver the meaningful reforms that they have repeatedly promised, then what's the point of 60? Why should anyone believe that knocking on doors, making calls, or donating another dollar changes anything if with 60 votes they cannot deliver real reforms?
The Democrats must not squander their 60-vote majority. And after the promises that were made to the American people, there is no excuse for a single member of the Democratic caucus to stand in the way of every member having the opportunity to vote for the health insurance reform this country needs.
Here's the bottom line -- there is no such thing as a Republican filibuster. Right now, the only ones who can stand in the way of giving the American people meaningful healthcare reform, like the bill in the House, are our elected Democratic Senators. Democrats cannot be the ones to destroy meaningful health insurance reform and the hopes Americans had when they voted last November; reform that guarantees the middle class isn't forced to spend 20 percent of their income for healthcare. Reform that makes the insurance industry compete by offering people real choices.
The White House, Majority Leader Reid and the Democratic caucus, and the House have an incredible opportunity: show the American people (and silence those naysayers) that they are willing to fight -fight to make healthcare truly affordable for the middle class, fight for a real public option that gives people actual choices and drives down costs, and fight to end the insurance industry's stranglehold on our healthcare.
The danger isn't that Democratic Senators will be criticized for failing to deliver bipartisan healthcare reform. The real danger is that they will be judged for failing to lead and for failing to deliver the change they have long promised. To state the obvious: this spells disaster in 2010...and even in 2012.
Real leadership does not govern out of fear - fear of losing the next election, fear of what might be used in an ad, fear of being too partisan. Leadership is not thinking about the next election - but the next generation.
It's decision time for the White House, Majority Leader Reid and each member of the Senate Democratic caucus: will they deliver?
Visit SEIU.org for more updates on the campaign for healthcare reform.
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