WASHINGTON – Progressive groups are poised to spend more than $82 million to support President Obama‘s goal of achieving quality, affordable health care for all this year, according to leaders gathered today at the “America’s Future Now” conference in Washington.
Participants in the effort include the Health Care for America Now campaign; the two main labor federations, the AFL-CIO and Change To Win; as well as MoveOn.org, Democracy for America and mobilization groups representing people of color, women and young people. The various organizations serve different functions, with the bulk of the spending financing advertising and grassroots organizing on- and off-line across the country.
The collective effort involves the more than 1,000 organizations that are part of Health Care for America Now, representing over 30 million members committed to winning a guarantee of quality, affordable health care for all this year. It is the largest national progressive issue campaign in history, one that was lacking when President Clinton’s health care proposals were defeated by the health care industry and conservative groups more than a decade ago.
Gov. Howard Dean, who recently became chairman of the board of the Progressive Book Club, joined organizers to announce details on Monday at a news conference sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future. Gov. Dean said the progress made over the last several years and the election of President Obama are just the beginning.
“Over the past few years, we have worked together to build a progressive infrastructure and a movement that helped to elect President Obama and begin to undo the damage of the last eight years. But it was just the beginning,” said Gov. Dean. “As the health care reform debate makes clear, America needs a strong progressive movement, now is not the time to become complacent.”
Campaign for America’s Future co-director Robert Borosage said that while conservatives are increasingly splintered and isolated, progressive groups are coordinating their efforts and mobilizing independently to fight special interests standing in the way of President Obama’s bold agenda.
“While the conservative coalition has collapsed, progressives have continued to build and expand,” said Borosage. “We are both more unified and better mobilized than ever.”
Health Care for America Now national campaign manager Richard Kirsch said his coalition launched last summer across the country with the notion that 2009 was going to be the year the nation could finally achieve quality, affordable health care for all.
“We knew we couldn’t win health care reform in 2008, but we knew we could lose it if we didn’t lay the groundwork for the very moment we’re in right now,” said Kirsch. “We have the momentum for real change, and with the commitment of the president and Democratic leadership in Congress, we know we can be stronger and louder than the special interests who make money off the status quo and would have any reform continue to put their profits before people’s health.”
The effort comes at a time when Americans hold progressive positions on an increasingly broad range of controversial issues, according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center. Also, key constituencies that favor progressives are growing larger, according to a report released last week by the Campaign for America’s Future and Media Matters for America. As a result, progressives are seizing their greatest opportunity for change in a generation.
Change to Win chair Anna Burger introduced results from a new survey conducted by pollster Celinda Lake at today’s news conference. The poll conducted for Change to Win shows that working people want government to invest in health care, good jobs and educational opportunity.
Burger said that most Americans blame corporate greed and its stranglehold on government for the decline of the American Dream. Working Americans reject the right-wing view and want positive government action on renewing the American Dream.
“Working Americans are looking for economic security, including jobs that pay a living wage, a secure retirement and opportunity for the next generation to succeed,” said Burger.
“Comprehensive health care reform lies at the heart of the American Dream, and without it, the Dream is unobtainable. We’re organizing on all fronts to make this a dream a reality for all of America’s workers.”