02 September 2009

Is the President Failing Us?

My "policy comment" to whitehouse.gov today:

If reports are true that President Obama will not demand the "public option" in a renewed push for a health care bill, the covenant will be broken, as far as I'm concerned: this president will have betrayed the people who elected him and rather definitively failed to establish himself as a major leader for progressive change. "Change we can believe in" will have become a hollow and false promise. Real universal health care was a keystone of his campaign agenda, and if the President fails to fight like hell to achieve it, and if he fails to insist and lead on the most important aspect of this reform agenda, I think it unlikely it will be achieved. Sure, some bill will pass, but genuine comprehensive reform will be doomed.

If the president were to use his bully pulpit to fight like hell for comprehensive reform, and the Congress failed him, I would see things differently, but as this debate has developed, I believe the inescapable conclusion is that it unless these reports turn out not to be true, it will be primarily he who has failed. He has not yet clearly articulated the minimum requirement, which he should understand requires the public option, and he has thusfar never really fought for this reform. The blame for its prospective failure must reside with him, in large measure, if it comes to pass, as seems likely now.

I am sharing these dismal thoughts with the White House in the hope that the President will reconsider. Health Care reform without the Public Option will not achieve cost savings, and will not achieve real universal coverage. It will fail. Its failure will be the President's failure, and will be irreparable. Please, Mr. President, reconsider any decision not to fight like your whole presidency depended on it for real health care reform -- BECAUSE IT DOES. We are counting on you, and we see defeat looming because of your inaction so far.

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