One of the sources said White House officials are “deep in conversations” with Snowe on a much smaller health care bill than Obama originally envisioned.

The modified proposal would include insurance reforms, such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, according to the source.

The potential deal would give insurance companies a defined period to make such changes in order to help cover more people and drive down long-term costs. But if those changes failed to occur within the defined period, a so-called “trigger” would provide for creating a public option to force change on the insurance companies, the source said.

Snowe is pivotal to the debate because she may be Obama’s last possibility for getting a Republican senator to support his push for a health care overhaul.

This isn’t what I voted for. I did not vote for a man who allows his administration to solicit opportunities to water down the initiatives he promised. I did not vote for a man who reaches across the aisle to find a place to sit. I did not vote for a few more years. I did not vote for “Well, we could.”

Oh, I can’t say it nearly as well as Anne Lamott already did.

We did not know exactly how you would proceed to restore our beloved Constitution. It seemed beyond redemption, like my kitchen floor did briefly last week after my dog, Bodhi, accidentally ate 24 corn bread muffins. You said you would push back your sleeves and begin, that it would take all of us working harder than we ever had before, but that you would lead. While acknowledging the financial and moral devastation of the last eight years, you said you would start by giving your people healthcare. You would do battle with the conservatives and insurance companies. You said in your beautiful way many times that this was the overarching moral and spiritual issue of our times, and we understood this to mean that you took this to be your Selma, your Little Rock.

I hate to sound like a betrayed 7-year-old, but you said. And we believed you. Now you seem to have abandoned the dream. That is why moderates and liberals and progressives like myself all seem a little tense this summer. It is time to call your spirit back. We will be here to help when you get back from vacation. We want to help you get over the disappointment of Mr. Grassley’s cold shoulder, of Mr. Enzi blowing you off, even that nice Olympia Snowe standing you up. We can and will take to the streets again, march and hold peaceful rallies, go door to door, donate to any causes that will help get out the truth of what a public option would mean. But we need you to shake off the dust of the journey and remember the promises of Dr. King, and we need you to lead us toward what is no longer so distant a shore.

And on the subject of wanting bipartisanship:

Of the total votes cast that long-ago November day, I’m guessing that about 1,575 people wanted you to try to reconcile the toxic bipartisanship that culminated in those Sarah Palin rallies.

The other 66,880,655 of us wanted universal healthcare.

We still do. In very durable results, more than three-quarters of the U.S. wants at least a public option, including more than 60% of Republicans polled. This means that if the Senate were stocked with the Republicans who were asked for their opinions, they would have the necessary supermajority to shut down debate and just vote in a public option.

In fact, there are only three groups that don’t seem to be in favor of a public option: insurance companies, corporate media and our elected representatives.

And it only takes a few minutes of cable news viewing to arrive at the assumption that the “centrist” position on healthcare reform, according to Brooks and other establishment people, is a bill without a public option. The health insurance lobby in collusion with both the corrupt and spineless Blue Dogs and the lying hacks who control the cartoonish Republican Party have successfully convinced large chunks of Washington that the public option is some sort of ultra-left concoction manufactured inside the secret underground Wellstone Memorial Lib-ratory located beneath Howard Dean’s cavernous walk-in Birkenstock closet.

The reality, however, is that a healthcare reform bill with a robust public option is both extraordinarily popular and fiscally responsible, while, on the other hand, the kind of “centrist” bill that David Brooks wants is actually more expensive and generally more corrupt. In other words, a bill without the public option can hardly be called “centrist” by any definition of the term.

If Brooks wants “fiscal restraint,” as he writes in his column, he’d endorse the public option. What I’m about to write is old news, but with the apparent prevalence of breaking news stories on cable news about bears wandering into suburban swimming pools, I suppose it’s easy for people to forget. Nevertheless, here it is. You may recall that the CBO scored the Kennedy HELP bill as costing around $1 trillion over ten years. But that was an early version of the bill without a public option included. What did the bill cost with the public option inserted into the mix?

$400 billion less.


Why don’t the politicians support a public option? They’re isolated. They’re surrounded by people who thought “Yes, we can” was a brilliant stroke of marketing, period, and the energy around the election was an unsustainable fluke. They’re hounded by (and identify with) people who lead industries that don’t bear nearly the same risk we do in health care costs and for whom a doubling of health care costs in a decade is a mere annoyance. They’re used to laughing at the idealists, because for the last eight years, they really couldn’t get anything done.

And, maybe, we’re talking too much to each other and not enough to them. We need to puncture that isolation. Don’t assume your representatives know where you stand. Complain to your local media when they insist on covering the controversy instead of the groundswell. Sign MoveOn’s petition. The text is very simple.

“President Obama, we’re counting on you to fight for bold change on health care–including a strong public health insurance option. It’s the key to breaking the stranglehold that private insurers have over our health care system.”

Donate to help them advertise. And don’t forget to tell your health insurance story and your child’s and your parents’. Stories are important. They bind us together in this. They carry a weight that even our numbers can’t always convey and penetrate where we can’t always go. The health insurance industry may have the money. They have the media. They may even have the politicians. But they don’t have the stories, and they can’t control ours except by making things better.

That’s exactly what we want done, and we’re not about to compromise.

Update: Someone in the comments mentioned hope. Not to pick on her, but hope isn’t going to cut it. In the words of the immortal Shel Silverstein:

Well it wasn’t too very long ago you know some folks walked with a hi-dee-ho
And other folks walked around kind of low
Sayin’ Yowzah and Sho nuff and Yassuh boss
It was ashes to ashes and dust to dust and they didn’t believe in makin’ a fuss
So they quietly moved to the back of the bus
They just say Yowzah and Sho nuff and Yassuh boss
And when things got rough they did a little prayin’
Little arm wavin’ and a little bit of swayin’
Didn’t do no good they kept right on a sayin’
Sayin’ Yowzah and Sho nuff and Yassuh boss
So they all went out and did a little standin’ little less askin’ and a lot more demandin’
Little less liftin’ and a little less totin’ a lot more thinkin’ and a lot more votin’
A lot less hopin’ a lot less waitin’
A whole lot more demonstratin’a lot less pearly gate’n’
A lot more fightin’ and a lot more walkin’ until finally no one at all was talkin’
Like Yowzah and Sho nuff and Yassuh boss
The end of this story is plain to see they finally achieved equality
And now like you and me they can stand up strong and free
And say Yes sir and Of course sir and Anything you say JB

Clearly, there is more work to be done.

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16 Responses to “Compromised”

  1. September 4th, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Mike Haubrich, FCD says:

    I spent a lot of time fighting to get Democrats elected, and only in the 6th District did my candidate lose the race. But it turns out that the Democrats think that the majority in the 6th District get more of a say in how health care gets reformed.

    Last Monday, what I saw at Betty McCollum’s Town Hall was capitulation towards the losers. I’ll have much more detail on Monday here at QM.

  2. September 4th, 2009 at 10:21 am

    peter says:

    Unfortunately, Obama seems in general just to continue what Bush has left unfinished, and did not even begin what he has promised to do in many cases.
    Just consider his use of executive orders, the failure to seriously begin investigating the torture allegations at American POW camps and prisons like Abu Ghraib.

    Here it is said much more pithy:

    Bush’s third term? You’re living it
    By David Swanson

    Now, here’s the funny part. This dark fantasy of a third Bush term is also an accurate portrait of President Barack Obama’s first term to date. In following Bush, Obama was given the opportunity either to restore the rule of law and the balance of powers or to firmly establish in place what were otherwise aberrant abuses of power. Thus far, Obama has, in all the areas mentioned above, chosen the latter course. Everything described, from the continuation of crimes to the efforts to hide them away, from the corruption of corporate power to the assertion of the executive power to legislate, is Obama’s presidency in its first seven months.

  3. September 4th, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Irene says:

    Was there really hope for better? I’m reminded of something I read back in August:

    “The Obama White House isn’t sitting impotently by while Democratic Senators shove a bad bill down its throat. This is the bill because this is the bill which Democratic leaders are happy to have. It’s the bill they believe in. As important, by giving the insurance and pharmaceutical industries most everything they want, it ensures that the GOP doesn’t become the repository for the largesse of those industries (and, converesly, that the Democratic Party retains that status).”

    Glenn Greenwald,

  4. September 4th, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Stephanie Zvan says:

    Hope? More a demand. More a recognition that this country and its citizens–yes, even the scared and deluded teabaggers–deserve better than what we’ve been getting.

    Hope isn’t going to get us anything. It’s little more than magical thinking. Neither is analysis focusing on what party leadership or a few influential people in the administration want. The only thing that is going to get us what we want is telling them, loudly and repeatedly, that anything else is unacceptable. Look at those polling numbers. Politicians who oppose a public option should be terrified, and we need to keep reminding them of that.

    Done that yet?

  5. September 4th, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Marcus says:

    Marvelous. Bravo!

  6. September 4th, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    D. C. Sessions says:

    Politicians who oppose a public option should be terrified, and we need to keep reminding them of that.

    Let’s not ignore the regional issues. There are plenty of politicians from States/districts (e.g. mine) who are (rightly) terrified of the electoral consequences if they support a public option. Others are from districts where their constituents care more about some other hot-button issue (e.g. farm subsidies, abortion, people with brown eyes etc.) which eclipses health care.

    Then there’s the money. It’s not possible to change a lobbyist’s mind, but it is possible to change a constituent’s. Media spend works, and when it doesn’t it can generate enough manufactroversy to provide plausible deniability. There are plenty of people already who think that the polls overwhelmingly reject not only the “public option” but any and all health-care legislation — and they’re loud and proud to tell the story.

    Finally, there’s the fact that we don’t live in a democracy, we live in a democratic republic. If The People are wrong-headed enough to want something that our Lords and Masters know is Not Good, then that’s what the whole “representative democracy” thing is about. As Al Franken said, he’s going to vote according to what he wants. Multiply by 535.

  7. September 4th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Dan J says:

    How bad is it for me to want to say “Screw the Republicans. Put single payer (or a public option, at the least) in the bill and tell every Democrat on capitol hill that they damn well better vote for it, or they’ll be waving bye-bye next election.”

    Not that it would work, or anything, but I still want to say it.

  8. September 5th, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Stephanie Zvan says:

    Why would that be bad? Why would it not work? If the Republicans in Congress want to get something done, they can reach out to the Democrats. They do it all the time. They just don’t want to be caught at it right now, when their corporate keepers are whipping up controversy.

    Despite what D. C. says (although I’m sympathetic to his geography), Congress critters are highly susceptible to large choruses. The fact that all Representatives are up for re-election next year is a large part of the reason they’re much more strongly in favor of a public option. They know that the people who contact them are the people who make things happen in elections, even at the caucus/primary level.

    D. C., one of the nifty things about this election is that those polling numbers are very stable for being part of an issue that people are treating as being contentious. The news reports aren’t affecting them. The advertising isn’t affecting them. They just need to be made much more public, and they need to be backed up with the action to show politicians that not only is a public option not controversial among the general public, but it’s a deal-breaker for the politically active.

  9. September 5th, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Mike Haubrich says:

    I think what Dan says has a good motivation, and I really think that the “Left of the Left” need to make our voice heard. Of course, as Connecticut Man has pointed out, the left of the left who want either Single-Payer or public option comprise 77% of Americans, and 67% of self-identified conservatives.

  10. September 5th, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Dan J says:

    Well, I guess it’s time to start writing another letter. I’ll tell them (anyone who holds an office relevant to me or this issue – just about all of them on capitol hill) in no uncertain terms that a public option, at the least, had better be a part of this bill, and a single-payer system had better be put into testing phases, or I will do everything in my power (reaching out with words, blog posts, comments, emails, YouTube, etc.) to let everyone in the country know who let us down.

  11. September 6th, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    other Greg says:

    The internet doesn’t vote.
    Your neighbours vote.

  12. September 6th, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Stephanie Zvan says:

    My neighbors will vote Green if given a candidate who isn’t a loon, but I live in a generally progressive city.

    No, the internet doesn’t vote, but it does give us a place to exchange information and arguments before going and talking to our neighbors. It arms us for dealing with the teabagger at work or on the bus who insists on parroting the scary lies. We have to take that next step, but we have the resources and the knowledge that we’re not doing this alone.

  13. September 7th, 2009 at 8:52 am

    other Greg says:

    Every office-holder from the Sheriff of Dogpatch to the Commander-in-Chief knows that anyone who is writing letters to “just about all of them on capitol hill” and letting “everyone in the country” know (the ambiguity of “reaching out with words not withstanding) is not “talking to our neighbours”.

    Said office-holders know also that FOX and CNN are “talking to our neighbours”. And they act accordingly.

    I was, of course, reacting directly to Dan J. However, I have no objection to others trying on the shoe.

  14. September 7th, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Stephanie Zvan says:

    Greg, I don’t know what kind of political world you live in, but our representatives aren’t so great at hearing us talk among ourselves over the grill or the water cooler. If we don’t reach out to them, they don’t know where we stand. We are in a situation where the vast majority of the population wants one thing and a small number of large powers want something else. In this case, talking to my neighbors largely consists of agreeing about the dismal state of things, commiserating over the cluelessness of some politicians, and me looking them in the eye to ask, “Have you called or written to them to tell them what you want and expect?” The answer is usually, “I need to do that.”

    Making noise, and not just at election time, matters. Making noise also matters because we’re fighting the media on this one, as you point out. That means that reaching out broadly, through multiple means, is incredibly important.

    Finally, relying on what “everybody knows” about any kind of communication in this day and age is a very good way to be out of date. If you’re a newspaper, it’s a great way to go bankrupt. If you’re a politician, it’s a good way to lose an election. In other words, it’s a great way to be wrong.

  15. September 8th, 2009 at 12:23 am

    other Greg says:

    It seems to me to me that you know what is to be done : change “I need to do that.” into “Yes, I did that. Now, I’m going to get Fred to do it.”.

    But Fred lives in FOX-land, doesn’t he. Maybe Heather Rosa has some ideas.

  16. September 8th, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Stephanie Zvan says:

    Your concern is noted.

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