It was good to see President Obama shifting toward a more directly confrontational tone with the insurance industry today in his weekly radio/YouTube address on health care. One of the biggest mistakes Clinton made in the last fight was shying away from directly taking on the insurance companies standing in the way until it was too late. It is only this kind of directly populist message that will carry us home.
It was also very exciting to see Obama be very clear and the strongest yet about how much he wants the public option.
We have reached a crucial moment, perhaps the crucial moment. All those folks pushing for delay (with the possible exception of Ron Wyden) are pushing for delay because they don't want to take on the insurance industry, and they want to slow the momentum of the Obama approach, especially the public option. Now is when Democrats and all of us progressive activists on the outside need to get very tough and very specific. Conservative Democratic Senators need to understand that they need to vote for cloture even if they can't bring themselves to vote for the bill itself, that to break with Obama and the party on this is the ultimate disloyalty. They need to understand that the White House, and Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi will cut them off at the knees on all future requests. They need to understand that progressives will recruit primary candidates against anyone who stops health care reform, and that progressive donors will stop giving to anyone who helps the Republicans on a filibuster fight.
This is the biggest issue for Barack Obama, and his ability to get anything else significant done will die if health care dies. This is the ultimate measure of whether you are part of the team, and the consequences of defeat on health care need to be made clear -- yes, crystal clear -- to everyone. All of us in this fight -- from Obama, Reid, and Pelosi to all of us who are progressive activists -- need to ratchet up the pressure even more than the insurance company lobbyists. This is our hill to die on.