THE BLOG
09/03/2009 03:53 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The August Health Care Battle

Late Saturday night, I wrote a blog post called So Far So Good, and had it time stamped for 9:00 AM Sunday morning. That post discussed -- among other things -- how so far the Obama White House had been hanging tough and fighting for a strong comprehensive health care bill. I then went to bed and slept late, rolled slowly out of bed, got ready for a busy weekend, and finally sat down to read the Washington Post late morning. There on the front page was an article, full of unnamed background sources of course, about how the Obama team had pretty much given up on bigger reform plans, and was scaling back their ambitions -- very depressing. I thought to myself, "hell, should I go rewrite that post?" Then about an hour later, I read the encouraging NYT article regarding how putting the toughest parts of health care reform into reconciliation so that it would only require 51 votes was still a live round. As with the WP article, it was full of unnamed sources, so it too was hard to tell what the truth of the article was.

This is what we are going to see on health care in the next 6 weeks- some stories that look good for real reform, some that look bad, and no way to tell which are more accurate. We won't know form moment whether we are winning or not.

Then there are the literally thousands of field events around the country with health care as the big topic -- town halls, rallies, debates, congresspeople speaking at all kinds of events back home. Every single one of them will be a pitched battle between pro-reform activists and the (truly, deeply) strange bedfellow coalition of insurance company Astroturf money in league with the birthers and various other nutty far right wingers. The latter coalition has put out a field manual on how to disrupt events, make lots of noise, appear to outnumber the reformers even when they don't, and generally intimidate members of congress. The other day they did a good job of this at an event in PA with Kathleen Sebelius. Our side needs to be ready for these tactics, and we need to beat their intensity level. This is a policy battle, a communications battle, a turnout battle, a political battle all rolled into one -- quite possibly the most important issue fight of our lifetimes, because winning this one not only gets us decent health care in this country, but sets the stage for winning the big fights of the future against the big business/birther coalition. It will go one way, then the other, and we won't know until it's over which side has won the day.

This country's future is on the line this August: does the money of the insurance industry combined with the craziness of the birthers win the day? Or do the reformers working to change things for the better win the day? And for all you blue dog Democrats and conservative Senate Democrats, you have to decide too- which side are you on? I hope all of you who are on the reformer side join the battle in the most active way you possibly can. This recess really is the ballgame.