Right now, the House and the Senate are about to engage in an epic battle on whether to include the public option in health-care reform or not. Or at least, we hope it's epic and that the House Democrats don't lie down on this.
Rep. Donna Edwards was on our show and told us that in her opinion the House will not agree to a bill without the public option. She said, "I think that there is absolutely a strong sentiment in the House of Representatives, frankly, that we will not get a bill through there if we don't have a strong robust public option."
Great. At least someone's fighting for real health-care reform. I know one other guy who's been doing his fair share of the heavy lifting -- Howard Dean. He's been on nearly every show (including ours) explaining what the public option is and why it makes sense. He's been an absolutely fantastic advocate for what appears to the Obama administration proposal. So, the question is -- why is he all alone out there?
I've seen a great variety of Republicans all over TV trying to bury the public option in an avalanche of lies. They continue to say, without a hint of irony, that the public option will be an inefficient government run bureaucracy and that it's so good that the private insurance doesn't have a chance to compete with it. Which one is it, boys?
So, where are the Democrats? Where is the Obama administration? Where is Kathleen Sebelius? Why isn't she on every cable show pushing for the Obama plan at the critical time when the public has to be won over? Why aren't there dozens of people from the administration blanketing TV to make their case?
Miraculously, a new NBC/WSJ poll indicates that 76% of the population is already in favor of the public option. Either people must love this idea or Howard Dean is the best one-man fighter we've ever seen (maybe both). But, of course, some Senate Democrats have already given up on the idea. Yeah, why would you support something that only 76% of the country is in favor of? Better to side with your Republican buddies in the Senate in the name of bipartisanship.
In reality, of course, this has nothing to do with bipartisanship. This has to do with the fact that a lot of the Democratic senators are also bought off by the private insurance companies. They don't give a damn how many Americans support it or how much sense it makes, they want to keep their lobbyist checks rolling in.
Now, the only way to fight against that is to have a president who is willing to unleash everything he's got to put enough pressure on these guys to do the right thing. Otherwise, of course, the lobbyists are going to win. This is the time. Send in the heavy hitters.
Don't get me wrong, I love that we don't have Tom Daschle as the Secretary of HHS at this point, given what we know about him now. What an unbelievable sell out that guy is. It would have been a disaster to have his spearheading the health-care initiative. So, I'm thrilled to have Sebelius instead, by comparison (although Dean clearly seems like he would have been the better option, as we said at the time). But she has to prove herself now. If she believes in the health-care reform she presumably helped to craft, then she has to fight for it.
Over the next couple of weeks, we should get to the point where we are sick of seeing Kathleen Sebelius on TV. Here is how the conversation between you and your TV should go, "Okay, okay, I got it. The public option is just a choice that the consumers would have. It would be cheaper and cover everybody. And if people don't like it, they could just stay with their own private insurance. There's no way to argue with it. I got it already, Kathleen!"
I guess 76% of the population supporting it isn't good enough for some of the Senate Democrats, so the Obama administration has to push that number higher until the Democratic senators cry uncle.
This is the test of whether Obama will actually fight for things he says he cares about, or if we will have four long years of capitulations disguised as smart, bipartisan compromises. Will it be politics as usual or will we get the real change we voted for?
Maybe we should go out and have rallies wearing green to get the results we voted for. If the Obama administration doesn't start fighting for real change, then maybe we have to start asking -- Where is My Vote?
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