Harry Reid Got 60, Working Americans Got Zero
Private health insurance companies showed the real power of their muscle after Saturday’s senate vote. Despite Harry Reid’s win in getting the 60 votes he need to move the health care bill forward, in the end, the legislation would do little to help working class Americans because it did not include a public option.
In order to get Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to be the 60th vote needed to stop a GOP filibuster, Reid had to “compromise” and wipe out the public option from the bill. Other centrists also pressured Reid to get rid of the government-run plan, which would have been the only non-corporate option Americans could have had.
The Democrats also allowed the private insurance corporations to get away without paying an insurer tax for another year. That saves the insurers $70 billion. It’s sick.
But it’s not over, after the next few votes on the senate floor, the health care bill will have to be combined with the one Democrats passed in the House — that one does include a robust public option, but the fight won’t be easy.
It will take real leadership from Progressive senators to put the public option back in the final health care reform bill. The leadership in the House side will also have to be tough in order to squelch the centrists on both sides that with no doubt will still look after the interest of the insurance giants.
This health care bill will definitely go down in the history books as an epic moment in modern American politics. If the progressives in Congress are able to get the public option over the humps of conservative and centrist opposition, it will be a clear sign that the American people still have power. If the public option never makes it to Obama’s desk, consider Washington, D.C. done for; the corporations officially rule.
Many of you may feel demoralized by Reid’s comprise with the centrists in the Democratic party — the Blue Dog Democrats that have shown their true colors: Red. We can hardly wait for the next election to try to get them out.
Nevertheless, the ride has been exciting for many. Progressives have fought really hard to make the public option a reality. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee ran TV ads in Reid’s state of Nevada to get his attention on the issue. MoveOn.org also did its part by highlighting Joe Lieberman’s stupidity. Dozens of activists were arrested at sit-ins across the country where they blocked the entrance of buildings of insurance giants to raise awareness of the issue. Unions also joined the forces.
It wasn’t long ago that I heard a report on NPR were “public option” was mentioned for the first time. Then, little by little, “the public option” was something mainstream journalists were writing about — it was on CNN, NY Times, etc. The hard work paid off, now the whole country knew that a public option was good and the poll numbers still show that support.
But the next phase is crucial. We can’t count on the Republicans, so the pressure must continue on the Dems. Keep those boxing gloves on and let’s get a second wind.
Follow Dolores on Twitter: @doloresmbernal