Public Option Rides Again -- $100,000 In 24 Hours

09/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Goal Thermometer

Yesterday we launched a campaign to thank the 65 Democrats who are standing up for working families -- standing up despite Big Insurance's big bucks; standing up despite a campaign of Republican lies and thuggery; standing up even despite corporate shills in their own party, from Blues Dogs to DLC barons like Ben Nelson, Max Baucus and Blanche Lincoln... and perhaps even standing up despite the hard-to-get-a-handle-on maneuverings from the White House. In the 24 hours since we launched the campaign an incredible 1450 1500 donors contributed close to over $100,000 to these 65 courageous Democrats.

Last night Rachel Maddow dedicated the intro to her show to "Democrats drawing a line in the sand" and featured Jane Hamsher (see video below). This came right on the heels of a dial-in weekly Democratic House caucus meeting that reiterated that the House Democrats were stronger than ever behind health care reform with a public option -- regardless of what time of the day it is and where Obama happens to say he stands at the moment.

Not a single member spoke up on behalf of co-ops, according to both people on the call and people briefed on it...In the face of White House backsliding Monday, Pelosi reiterated that a public option is essential to reform. Pelosi gave the caucus a "pep talk," one attendee said, pushing the party to keep pressing the message. She assured an ultimate victory.

"Everyone has said on the record that they would support [the public option]. But there is a concern that the conference report would give them an out," said an aide briefed on the call by his boss. "Some people spoke up and said, 'We can't give in on the conference report.'"

I'm guessing none of the Blue Dogs called in. Maybe they had all passed around Digby's post from Monday explaining that sabotaging health care reform would probably cost lots of Democratic seats, almost all of them red state Blue Dogs... and that that could actually be a seen as a good thing! "And," writes the always startlingly perceptive Digby, "if it happens because [Obama] rammed through meaningful health care reform instead of some watered down bucket of warm spit and the administration managed to get unemployment down, I think he will very likely have Morning in America in 2012. To hell with Rahm and his appease the Blue Dogs at all costs strategy. What good is it if the president fails in 2012? If [Charlie] Cook is right and the Dems maintain their majority while losing a bunch of these reactionary wingnuts, I couldn't be happier. And the Democrats should be happy too because it means they can pass successful legislation for a change."

Late last night Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny had a piece published by the New York Times implying that Obama has gotten his mojo back and that he's ready to push through the health care reform he campaigned for and won the election on and that he would do it in the face of lockstep GOP obstructionism. Although Republican obstructionism prevented Harry Truman from passing health care reform, on July 30, 1965 LBJ signed two amendments to the Social Security Act into law that created Medicare and Medicaid. The year before Republicans lost 36 seats in the House and 2 seats in the Senate -- leaving them with a puny and powerless 32 member caucus in the Senate -- and giving the Democrats overwhelming majorities.

So even with dogged obstructionism and Republicans screaming "socialism," and rending their clothes (although without Fox News), the amendments passed 307-116 in the House and 70-24 in the Senate. But even without Limbaugh, conservative opposition was fierce and dire. In 1961 Ronald Reagan warned "[I]f you don't [stop Medicare] and I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free." Sound familiar? Barry Goldwater, who had just been defeated in the biggest presidential landslide in contemporary memory, didn't let that stop him from also warning about the slippery slope of socialism: "Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink." Equating beer and cigarettes with health care is quite the stretch... unless you're a rightist whose only goal is maintaining the status quo for the powerful elites whose interests you represent.

Recognizing that the only effort the GOP is willing to expend is work they think will guarantee that the Obama presidency is a failure, and that they are not negotiating in good faith, word from Democrats last night was that "their go-it-alone view was being shaped by what they saw as Republicans' purposely strident tone against health care legislation during this month's Congressional recess, as well as remarks by leading Republicans that current proposals were flawed beyond repair."

Leaving the obstructionists out of the equation, Democrats have the opportunity to come up with a bill that serves the needs of ordinary American families instead of the special interests the Republican Party is in bed with. It remains to be seen if instinctively cautious Democrats -- who, after all, are in bed with many of the same sleazy interests -- have the guts, foresight and will to seize that opportunity. The stand by progressives in the House who will not budge on the public option -- the actual compromise position -- gives real reform another breath of life and a chance to hang on and fight another day. Let's keep up the good work today and show Rahm Emanuel and the Blue Dogs that Democrats don't have to crawl to Insurance Industry CEOs to finance election campaigns. Even if you give just one dollar -- which is what many people did give yesterday, please help us get to $200,000 this week.