How Bad Do You Want The Public Option?

Bill Scher

As noted in today’s Progressive Breakfast, the White House’s stance on a public health insurance option is not new. The President and his staff have always made a strong argument for a public option, but have always refrained from refusing to sign legislation that does not include it.

What does that say about the White House strategy? It either means that they want it, but also want to leave their options open to avoid political embarrassment. Or, it means that they never really wanted it, but wanted to put it front and center as a punching bag, so they can take it off the table and “compromise” for what they always thought was politically realistic.

Which is the case? Who knows? And frankly, who cares.

We do not serve our objectives by playing armchair pundit, but by being active citizens.

The right-wing knows this. They don’t just sit around and listen to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. They take that misinformation, and thrust it upon the political system, bombarding Congress with phone calls and hijacking town halls.

Sure, there are well-funded special interest lobbying operations helping them along. But exercising the basic tools of a democracy and engaging your representatives is something we can do just as well.

Whatever President Obama’s intentions, by talking repeatedly about the public option, he has put the issue in play. But not making it a non-negotiable item, he is implicitly telling us: if you want this, don’t assume I can or will ram it through. You have to fight for it.

The right-wing wants to kill health care reform so bad, they are willing to make complete fools of themselves on national television.

How bad do you want a public option? Bad enough to spend 5 minutes calling your President, two Senators and House representative? Bad enough to find out where a town hall is happening in you area?

The polls for public plan option have consistently been on our side. But the grassroots intensity has not.

And that’s what’s needed to convince skittish politicians that their political careers depend on doing the sensible thing.

So, how bad do you want it?

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