Reading the news these past few weeks, one might get the impression
that President Obama's health care push is dead in the water. Nevermind
that four of five congressional committees with jurisdiction over
health care legislation have already passed
substantive bills. The ...
Reading the news these past few weeks, one might get the impression that President Obama's health care push is dead in the water. Nevermind that four of five congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care legislation have already passed substantive bills. The national media, trying to find a narrative to describe why common procedural delays are killing the momentum of reform, have chosen to focus on polls showing slight drops in public support or, more recently, on the organizing efforts of conservative activists hoping to block Obama's agenda.
But right-wingers aren't the only ones making their voices heard. In downtown Chicago yesterday, an estimated 700 supporters of the Health Care for America Now coalition joined multiple Democratic political leaders from Illinois in urging members of Congress to pass health care reform this fall. "We will rally," boomed Rep. Danny Davis. "We will rally until we win!"
Gov. Pat Quinn agreed. The event's first speaker, he called health care reform "long overdue" and the "key to our economic recovery." "This is not a privilege," he added, "this is a fundamental right." Watch it:
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, one of the Congress' most ardent advocates for health care reform, called the fight over health care this August recess "a battle of biblical proportions," pitting wealthy insurance companies against the public good:
About 30 counter-protesters amassed across the street, making mild chants and holding signs (one pictured the president holding a hammer and sickle). Harold Pollack, a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and a contributor at The New Republic's The Treatment, talked to a few of the opponents. While he's writing up a full post for TNR's site later today (UPDATE, 11:40 am: The full link is available here), he passed along his first impressions of the assembled party over email:
Twenty or thirty counter-protesters were gathered across the street. I walked over and chatted with them. This was no Astroturf group. They were clearly concerned citizens, one carrying a sign that read: “Senator Durbin, my insurance provider didn’t pay me to protest.” [...]
I talked with one retired vet carrying a sign that read, “Drop dead, I’m not paying for your health care.” I asked what he meant by that. He said, simply, “I should not have to pay for your medical care.” I asked him if he applies that standard to Medicare. Yes he does. I asked if he therefore feels guilty using the program. “I use the VA.”
We chatted amiably, shook hands, and went our separate ways. He’s not a bad guy, though he does believe I should move to Russia.
The White House is rolling out its own grassroots effort, using its massive online infrastructure to activate the Obama's base and combat "disinformation" in the media regarding the reform package.
Perhaps they need to start by reminding folks who runs the VA system.