Having had several ups and downs regarding the fate of a public health insurance option in recent weeks, I’m delighted to get good news from reliable sources whenever I can get it.
There were rumors here at the Late as early as Thursday morning that Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and the White House were leaning toward a national public option with an opt-out for individual states. Not great news, but there was hope that things were moving in the right direction.
According to an article in today’s Washington Post, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), House Majority Whip, is now saying that there is no longer a question about whether or not health care reform will include a public option, but
whether or not we will get this form of a public option or that form of a public option.
What a surprise!
In fact, the news seems to be surprising to Rep. Clyburn himself. At the same time that he was saying that the public option is very much back on the table, he recalled the headlines created in August by people who shout at town hall meetings, headlines about “death panels” created by people who get elected to Congress even though they are crazy, and headlines created by the fiasco that is the Baucus bill and those on the Senate Finance Committee who voted down not one, but two versions of a public option.
Regarding the efficacy of all the nonsense that came from people who shouted at town hall meetings, I recall reading not so long ago here at the Lake in some comments to posts that the teabagger-types had taken control of the debate in August and that we’ve been losing ever since.
But I agree with Rep. Clyburn’s assessment. He believes that people got to hear the extreme and vitriolic nonsense that was spewed, sometimes hatefully, and so got to see it for what it was: “foolishness.”
As serious debates on how to reform health care resumed in September, Rep. Clyburn says, the American people began to realize
that all of this foolishness was just that — foolishness. Nobody wants to pull the plug on Grandma.
In other words, Progressives didn’t drop the ball by failing to shout counter-vitriol back at the crazy shouters during town hall meetings in August.
Progressives sent out and continue to send out petition after petition, and go to the Capitol to deliver them with signatures of Americans from all corners of the country.
Progressives have organized and continue to organize efforts to flood the offices of members of Congress with phone calls from Americans who strongly support a public health insurance option.
Progressives ran and continue to run phone banks, calling constituents of members of Congress to put pressure on those who have the power to affect the outcome of health care reform the most.
And, if you accept the reporting in the Washington Post, we can now begin to see that we are having an effect!
As the Washington Post reporters put it:
Reid’s original inclination was to leave the public option out of a final bill he is writing from measures passed by the finance and health committees.
Reid’s strategy is to try to persuade his Democratic caucus to allow a health-care bill with an opt-out public plan to come to the floor, even if there is no guarantee that all 60 senators who caucus with Democrats would ultimately vote for it.
As Jim Manley, Reid’s spokesman, put it:
More and more, [Senator Reid] is convinced it’s the right thing to do.
Still, it’s far from over.
First, when this idea of including a public option with an opt-out provision was presented to the White House last Thursday night, President Obama would not say whether or not he would embrace it.
Second, and even more troubling, the Washington Post is reporting that on the House side,
Both Pelosi and Clyburn said they would be open to the Senate’s opt-out approach. ‘I don’t think there’s much problem with that,’ Pelosi said. Clyburn added: ‘All they’re debating is whether or not to allow states to opt out of it, but you’ll still have the same public option.’
In other words, a consensus seems to be emerging in the Obama administration, the Senate and the House for the opt-out idea, even though it is not going to achieve real health care reform, at least not for everyone, as it would leave out millions of Americans who live in “red” states, which is immoral.
We have raised our voices and have been heard. They know that the American people will accept nothing less than real health care reform.
There are times and places when civil disobedience is morally right and necessary. However, what those people who shouted at town hall meetings in August were doing was not morally right or necessary, but was instead an effort to disrupt the democratic process. And it was counter-productive for them and hurtful to their cause, which was both unpopular and wrong anyway.
So, we can finally see some of the results of our efforts, but the battle is far from over.
We must continue to raise our voices in the right way: to make phone calls, to write letters, to sign petitions, and to contribute as much money as we can for ads to continue running.