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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Obama, Keep Public Option


“The public option, whether we have it or we don’t have it, is not

the entirety of healthcare reform. This is just one sliver of it . . .”

—President Obama in Grand Junction, Colo., Aug. 15, 2009

An Open Letter to President Obama
Gerald Herbert/AP

Gerald Herbert/AP

Dear President Obama:

I campaigned for you and have volunteered on Organizing for America phone banks here in New York City, calling voters to urge their senators to support a strong public option. But I refuse to give another minute of my time if there’s no public option. This is non-negotiable. We should have a single-payer, Medicare-for-all bill. To surrender the public option would be suicidal. Democrats should prepare for revolt if the administration and Congress back down.

It is distressing in the extreme to hear you backpedaling from insisting on a public option. And it’s sickening that the White House made a secret deal with drug companies to limit cost-savings in exchange for their support. (What I’ve heard is that Emanuel and Baucus made a deal with Big Pharma and Insurance in exchange for a promise to guarantee campaign money for Democrats not Republicans in 2010.) From an administration that promised transparency, this is betrayal; it makes us sick—and no co-ops will cure us.

Mr. President, please drop your vain hope of bipartisan support. After the Stimulus fight you should know the GOP will never give you a single vote. You’re losing your base when you too readily concede to the opposition. Why should we fight for what you surrender? No concession will satisfy the Republicans. Dems, go it alone: Reconciliation, not capitulation.

Forget the Republicans. Focus on holding the Democrats together. Let Joe Biden at ’em. Get tough, crack skulls, and go for broke.

If you really want to win this, bring in Bill Clinton and Howard Dean and saturate the airwaves and YouTube with messages from them and Senator Kennedy to play over and over with a focused script. Do it like you mean it. Learn from the Republicans’ message discipline. They sold a war nobody wanted; surely you can sell a good deal that 70% of the public wants and you campaigned and won on. Public option must stay; better yet, expand Medicare.

Mr. President, we’ve come so close, we can’t lose this now. It’s unbelievable that with conditions more favorable than they’ve been in 40+ years, Democrats appear poised to blow this. If you all fail, the Donkeys will be so contemptible they may (deservedly) suffer electoral defeats for years to come. There’s no reason why we can’t make this happen. Remember, the public’s on your side.

Our prayers are with you—but don’t take our support for granted.

Mark LaFlaur

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