The link goes to ActBlue. It would be fantastic to have this ad flood Cantor's district, reminding voters of the costs of supporting the Republican agenda. In fact, while Labor Day is a great start, I hope DFA runs this ad again and again as we near the election.
Jim Dean has a message for Crooks and Liars readers.
Philadelphia progressives turned out last night at the South Philadelphia Taproom to support Democracy for America, and to hear Gov. Howard Dean rally the troops for this year's congressional midterms.
The former Vermont governor told activists he understood that they were angry, "but you can be as pissed off as you want after Nov. 5th." He also talked about how important it was for young people to stay involved, pointing out that Obama's election was the first decided by voters under 35, "not voters over 65."
DFA President Jim Dean worked the crowd, telling fundraiser attendees how much DFA needed their support.
Both brothers made it clear they understood people's anger, but urged them not to give up and to keep on fighting.
I don't see how DFA could avoid breaking with Dr. Dean's position on the construction of an Islamic community center in downtown NYC. But Dr. Dean does have a point:
The grassroots political organization founded by Howard Dean after the 2004 presidential election has made a dramatic break with the former DNC chairman over the construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero.
Democracy for America, a million-plus member organization that is active on a host of legislative fronts, formally endorsed the controversial Cordoba House on Thursday, one day after its founding figure called for the project to be built elsewhere.
In a letter sent to members, the group's executive director, Arshad Hasan, weaves together his personal history with a detailed explanation of the project's lofty and noble objectives. In a direct but diplomatic touch, he addresses Dean's opposition only by explaining that "well-intentioned" Democrats are "getting caught up" in the anti-mosque hysteria. "It's not helping," writes Hasan.
[L]et's be clear, the subject of the highest profile Muslim structure, 51 Park in New York City, will have a basketball court and a culinary school. Two floors will have a prayer room. The other eleven will host movie nights, performances, group dinners, etc -- it's basically a Muslim YMCA, open to everyone. These moderate Muslims are doing everything we could ask of them. They're trying to build a bridge in the communities they live in, trying to show the world that Muslims are cool and interesting and diverse, and proving that being a Muslim does not equal being a terrorist.
But they're being thrown under the bus by our elected leaders, egged on by some of the ugliest elements of the right-wing. Well-intentioned leaders of the Democratic Party are getting caught up in the fray as well, some of them seeking to find common ground with an implacable opposition. It's not helping.
This isn't just a Manhattan problem. Right now, there is opposition to mosques in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Southern California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, and dozens of other locations across our nation. Where would they move? If public pressure can be brought to bear to take down the most high-profile Muslim community center in liberal NYC, then these other places don't even have a chance, Ground Zero connection or not.
Frankly, this isn't about Ground Zero. This is about America. This is about freedom. This is about people and there seems to be no place that Muslim people can go without being harassed.
The harassment has to stop, and that starts with you and me.
Yesterday was MoveOn.org's national day of protest against the Citizen's United decision and the influence of corporate donations on our representatives in Washington.
For 23 years my representative has been worthless, so this was an opportunity to rally against Citizen's United and make a showing for what united citizens can do, especially since he's flirting with the tea party in order to pander to the corporate arm of the Republican party.
Starting in May, MoveOn organized more than 150 community forums across the country and consulted with experts in the public policy, netroots and legal communities to craft a progressive response to Citizens United. In late June MoveOn members overwhelmingly approved a three-part "Fight Washington Corruption" pledge calling for (1) overturning the Court's decision through an amendment to the Constitution; (2) passing the Fair Elections Now Act in Congress, which incentivizes candidates to collect small donations by offering competitive public matching funds; and (3) enacting tough new laws cracking down on the revolving door between government officials and lobbyists. A diverse coalition of advocacy groups, including the SEIU, Democracy for America (DFA), People for the American Way and The Nation signed on as co-sponsors. MoveOn called it "our most ambitious campaign ever."
That picture at the top was our group. You might think it was small, but for this area, it was huge. We're a red, red district slowly turning a shade of purple. Everyone was motivated, fired up, and ready to push toward November and the defeat of our particular corporate Republican do-nothing congressman.
We collected 40 signatures to present to Rep. Elton Gallegly, who was out of his office and in Washington DC busily voting against the bill to help states pay for teachers, firefighters and policemen. Nevertheless, our presence was felt, and noticed by passers-by and inhabitants of his office building.
Now that the Senate has managed to stop the DISCLOSE act dead in its tracks, it's open season. The FEC is issuing rulings right and left in support of schemes opened up by Citizens United. Target's contribution was disclosed, at least. The next one may not be.
Did we accomplish much? Actually, yes. We have a good-sized group of committed and connected people with a goal not only to fight corruption, but to send a long-term Republican congressman to the unemployment line, where he can make a claim for the benefits he voted against on three separate occasions.
Not a bad night's work.
Other photos from rallies around the country on Flickr. Here's one from Common Cause's event in Pennsylvania, too.
Progressives will be watching some big primary races this Tuesday. But the biggest race of all is in Pennsylvania's Democratic senatorial primary, where groups like MoveOn and Democracy for America have poured resources behind Joe Sestak, backing him against the Obama-backed Sen. Arlen Specter:
Perhaps no race has as much symbolic significance for Obama as the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania between incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak. According to the most recent polls, the two are locked in a virtual tie as they go into Tuesday's voting.
A Specter loss would be viewed by many as a defeat for Obama, even though the president remains highly popular among Pennsylvania's Democrats. That's because Obama was personally involved in wooing Specter to the Democratic Party and promised support in his bid to stay in the Senate. One of the final ads Specter is running features the senator visiting Obama.
The White House signaled more than a week ago that the president would not make another campaign trip for Specter in the final days of the primary race, perhaps wanting to avoid a repeat of the presidential-visit-followed-by-loss sequence that occurred in January when Republican Scott Brown won the open Senate seat in Massachusetts just days after Obama campaigned there for Democrat Martha Coakley.
But a win by Sestak may not offer any lasting damage for Obama. He campaigned as a supporter of the president's, and the congressman could turn out to be a better candidate in the fall against the Republican nominee.
If Specter loses -- or even if he wins by a tiny margin -- it could foreshadow difficulties for all incumbents, as further evidence that voters are fed up with those in power. It would also be an indication of the difficult prospects for party-switchers; Obama is asking many Democrats in Pennsylvania to support Specter after they had spent years campaigning and voting against him.
Democrats have been voting for Specter for a long time, so I don't think that's a real problem. If anything, people will vote against him because they think it's time for new blood.
I already called Arlen Specter's and Bob Casey's offices to see if they're going to sign on. Call your senators now and let them know you want them to support this last-minute push for the public option. If you don't get them tonight, call again tomorrow morning:
Four senators have signed a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to pass a public option for insurance coverage through the use of reconciliation.
The list of signatories includes both usual and somewhat unusual suspects, from the progressive wing of the party -- Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) -- to less ideological lawmakers who find themselves in primary election contests -- Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Col.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
"Dear Leader Reid," the letter says:
We respectfully ask that you bring for a vote before the full Senate a public health insurance option under budget reconciliation rules.
There are four fundamental reasons why we support this approach - its potential for billions of dollars in cost savings; the growing need to increase competition and lower costs for the consumer; the history of using reconciliation for significant pieces of health care legislation; and the continued public support for a public option.
The petition is part of a larger effort by a coalition of progressive groups to rally Democratic lawmakers around the idea of passing a government run health insurance option through a parliamentary maneuver that would allow an up-or-down vote.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America and Credo -- a socially-conscious business -- have already secured the signatures of 119 House Democratic lawmakers for the late-stage public option push. The progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org also has emailed constituents asking them to push their representatives to co-sign the petition.
My name is Noelle Cigarroa Bell, and I've been working for the past year on health care reform as a grassroots advocate. I would like to announce exciting news--we're working with Darcy Burner on the FixItAndPassIt! Project. Here's what our project is about:
Healthcare Reform: Fix It and Pass It! is a project of the Progressive Congress Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization dedicated to connecting the progressive movement, ideas, and Congress.
Democracy For America is onboard with us for our effort, and we're working on an even bigger push next week to get this job done. Speaker Pelosi has it right when she says she doesn't have the votes for the Senate bill. She's whipped her caucus, tried to get them to a "yes" vote, but they're not going to do it because the Senate bill is political poison because of the lack of a public option, the Medicare buy-in, the excise tax, the sweetheart deals with PhRMA, and the Nebraska Cornhusker Kickback deal.
We're pushing to fix this bill by calling for these items in the reconciliation fix--the public option, the Medicare buy-in, excising the excise tax, increasing the subsidies, drug reimportation, and kicking the Nebraska cornhusker kickback deal out of the Senate bill. The votes won't materialize otherwise. It's the harsh reality. This just doesn't stop here, because truly, this Senate bill even if it gets passed by an Act of God, isn't enough. We will continue to fight for better health reform. Let's get this done and leave it all on the road on February 24th and February 25th.
Just got off another blogger conference call, this time with Howard Dean, former CIGNA exec Wendell Potter, and Mike Lux.
Dean announced the results of a DFA poll that is "really quite stunning," he said. (You can read the results here.) The Senate cloture vote is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, he said.
Democracy for America's "No Option, No Mandate" campaign to contact Harry Reid clocked 7000 calls in four hours, too, he said.
Dr. Dean opened the call by saying "this bill has always been a giveaway to the insurance industry, but we were willing to compromise" to get the public option.
He recapped all the compromises we made: "We wanted single payer, but that was taken off the table early on. That was a mistake. We had to get to the place where we had health insurance for all Americans." But now, he said, there's no public option, and no Medicare option.
"You're forced to pay money to an insurance company or get fined $750 by your government, while 27% of your money goes to CEOs who are flying around in these private jets," he said.
He talked about the compromises made for pre-existing conditions, the most disturbing one the ability to charge you 300% more, merely for being older. "It's guaranteed issue, but if you’re making $65,000 a year for a family of four and you’re paying $20,000 for insurance, how is that reform?"
He said the real bad stuff in the Senate bill was
"hidden in the weeds, so you can’t find it."
Dr. Dean brushed aside the "Get a bill, any bill" mentality in Washington. "Any legislation passed will have a huge impact on American healthcare. If they can’t fix it, it shouldn’t pass."
Wendell Potter, former CIGNA executive and reform activist, said the insurance industry got "every single thing they wanted" in the Senate bill.
"There's no individual mandate, no public option. There's also three words, 'benefit design flexibility' in Senate bill – that means the freedom to design plans that will pass more and more of us into ranks of the underinsured - and charge up to 22% of income if someone gets sick," he said.
In Massachusetts, they have a 2 to 1 premium ratio, "and they're already having trouble finding affordable, adequate insurance. The industry wants to shift even more costs to individuals and families, having the government pay them half a trillion dollars. The Senate bill meets every one of their requirements," Potter said.
"They will continue to shift the cost burden to consumers and get around not using preexisting conditions by charging for certain factors like high cholesterol."
Dr. Dean pointed out the House bill "is the compromise, we didn’t think it was right to take the option of an employer-based system away if people liked it."
In Vermont, he said, you can't be charged more than double the lowest premium.
Dean listed some more of the insurance company wish list the Senate was so eager to fill. "Getting rid of the anti-trust provision. This contributes to the predatory effect of the insurance companies – they're essentially unregulated. We need to get the provision in, get them regulated.
Wendell Potter talked about something you often hear pushed from the Republican side: "Just let us sell across state lines and let the market decide." As he points out, insurers would go to the states with least regulation.
Paul Hogarth from Daily Kos asked them to address criticism that if the bill is killed, "there's no reform and we’re worse off, the momentum is gone."
"I don’t know that we’ll be worse off," Dr. Dean said. "We ought to strip down this bill and get rid of the mandate. It should have been done by reconciliation."
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America has a new ad campaign aimed at moving Sen. Chuck Grassley off the dime and get him to support healthcare reform. If you can, donate here:
Meet Kevin from Iowa. Kevin voted for Reagan...and Nixon...and George W. Bush...and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. Kevin supports the public health insurance option. And in our new TV ad -- called "Main Street Bipartisanship" -- Kevin calls out Chuck Grassley for being out-of-touch with voters back home. It's powerful.
Real health care reform is in danger right now because some Democratic senators like Montana's Max Baucus crave "bipartisanship." But in DC, "bipartisanship" doesn't mean policies that Republican and Democratic voters back home support. It means "whatever watered-down reform insurance companies will let Republican senators vote for."
Chuck Grassley, the main Senate Republican negotiator, has taken over $2.9 million from health and insurance interests that oppose reform. He's also said he won't support a public option because it would beat private insurance in the marketplace! So why are some Democrats still negotiating with Grassley and letting him water down reform -- instead of going on offense? One word: "bipartisanship."
We're redefining "bipartisanship" to mean what mainstream voters want. Thanks for being a bold progressive.
-- Stephanie Taylor, PCCC co-founder
P.S. According to a national Quinnipiac poll in August, 40% of Republicans and 64% of independents support the public option. In Iowa, the latest Des Moines Register poll showed 36% of Republicans and 56% of independents. For context, 36% of Senate Republicans would be 14 votes -- huge "bipartisanship."