THE BLOG
07/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Go Away, Tom Daschle

Dear Sentor Daschle,

Go away.

Please.

Look, I'm going to be frank with you. You were a terrible Majority Leader. The Republicans were more powerful in the minority -- framing the debate, setting the agenda -- than Democrats were in the majority when you ran the Senate.

When President Obama nominated you to be his HHS Secretary and health care czar, I was a little baffled. When the explanation was that you could skillfully guide health care reform through Congress, I was outright bewildered. I couldn't remember you skillfully guiding anything through Congress when you were its most powerful member.

And when your nomination imploded, I was relieved. I thought we probably had a better shot at getting health care for everyone -- by far the most important issue in America -- with you out of the picture.

But this week, you forced your way back into the picture, releasing a "bipartisan proposal" that you crafted with, of all people, Bob Dole. It was a depressingly typical effort at bipartisanship from you: all the compromise came from the Democratic side. It included no public option, essentially leaving the health care out of health care reform.

You said you'd prefer a public option, but that reaching a "consensus" is more important. "We've come too far and gained too much momentum for our efforts to fail over disagreements on one single issue," you said.

In other words, it's more important that Bob Dole approve of the plan for health care reform than to actually solve the problem health care reform is supposed to solve.

And that's your fatal flaw, Senator. You put bipartisanship above all other values. You believe that consensus is more important than results. Your comity created a do-nothing attitude while you were the Majority Leader, and it is the last thing we need now in the middle of a fight to fix the most broken thing about America: its criminal health care system that literally kills people.

So please, I beg of you, do America a favor. Take your bipartisan health care plan and go away. We don't need another Democrat telling us how important it is for us to play nice with the Republicans while millions of Americans go without health care.

We don't need you, Tom Daschle. We don't need your bipartisanship or your defeatist attitude. We don't need your signature under a bunch of giveaways to the insurance companies.

We just need 50 votes in the Senate. We can ignore the Republicans. We can laugh at their fake concerns about "choice" and "quality" and "cost" while they oppose every solution that increases choice, improves quality, or reduces cost.

We can finally make sure that no one in America ever has to stay in a job because they can't get health care anywhere else. We can make sure that no one goes bankrupt because they get sick. We can make people healthier and even save lives.

All we need is strong leadership from the White House and unity of purpose from our Democrats in Congress. What we don't need, Senator, is you.

Sincerely,
Jesse Berney