If the president was more passionately engaged in the fight to achieve the goal (instead of announcing he's rather have something bipartisan than le
July 4, 2009


If the president was more passionately engaged in the fight to achieve the goal (instead of announcing he's rather have something bipartisan than legislation that, you know, actually gets the job done), and Congressional leaders were more focused on actually getting us affordable health care instead of placating the insurance lobby and other members of Congress, this would be a moot point.

But they're not.

And if the Democrats had shown they're actually looking out for us, and not their powerful sponsors, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

What the president doesn't seem to understand is, to us, this is an economic Hurricane Katrina. The water is rising and we're stranded on the roof, praying and waiting for help. Seems to us that you're more interested in looking bipartisan than getting us off the roof. Don't you know how scary it is, watching the water rise? Are you actually telling us to wait on the roof and mind our manners?

Mr. President, will you help us - or the insurance lobby? History has shown that you can't do both.

President Obama, strategizing yesterday with congressional leaders about health-care reform, complained that liberal advocacy groups ought to drop their attacks on Democratic lawmakers and devote their energy to promoting passage of comprehensive legislation.

In a pre-holiday call with half a dozen top House and Senate Democrats, Obama expressed his concern over advertisements and online campaigns targeting moderate Democrats, whom they criticize for not being fully devoted to "true" health-care reform.

"We shouldn't be focusing resources on each other," Obama opined in the call, according to three sources who participated in or listened to the conversation. "We ought to be focused on winning this debate."

Specifically, Obama said he is hoping left-leaning organizations that worked on his behalf in the presidential campaign will now rally support for "advancing legislation" that fulfills his goal of expanding coverage, controlling rising costs and modernizing the health system.

Remember when candidate Obama's campaign was urging big donors and other contributors to give directly to his campaign instead of liberal activist groups? I didn't trust it then, and I don't trust it now. I'm not all that interested in allowing what is far too often a corporatist, right-leaning agenda to go unchecked.

That said, there's a legitimate case to be made that we should focus on positive goals rather than negative attacks. I'm not saying I agree (certainly not in all circumstances), but we could at least have a reasonable discussion about that. (In fact, I just had one the other day from a friend who's working in health care reform, and she said the same thing. But see, I trust her.)

In the call, leaders of both chambers expressed optimism that they will hold floor votes on legislation to overhaul the $2.2 trillion health system before Congress breaks in early August.

For his part, the president vowed to use his strong approval rating with voters to continue making the case for sweeping reform, according to one congressional staffer with knowledge of the conversation. Obama also hinted that efforts are under way to discourage allies from future attacks on Democrats, according to the source, who did not have permission to speak on the record about the discussion.

"Sweeping"? I think that word does not mean what he thinks it means. Because until we sweep greedy insurance companies out of their seats at the right hand of the throne, this will be a reform in name only, just like Massachusetts.

I wonder how they're going to "discourage" us? Cut off our internet access?


Photo by Thomas Neff.

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