Beating the Drum for Healthcare Change

The House of Representatives is on recess, and the hottest political topic for Congressmen & women during their summer vacation is going to be health care reform. The Senate will go on recess next week, and will be coming home to constituent events around the state.

The same folks who showed up to McCain/Palin events and made outrageous statements about our current president are out in full force to deny him a major political victory--and they don't seem to much care that doing that will actually hurt everyday working Americans.

I attended yesterday's Town Hall meeting with Secretary of Health Sebelius and Senator Specter, and I think that the other health care reform supporters who joined me there will agree that we underestimated the fervor with which the right is organizing to defeat health care reform. Among other conversations I had with the Tea Party crew, one woman told me that people who don't have health care "just don't work hard enough."

It's outrageous to me that someone could say that about any worker, but the person who jumped into my mind immediately was Ms. Evelyn, a member of my local's Executive Board, probably because I was carrying around her Health Care Story flyer, getting people to tell me their stories. Ms. Evelyn's story says, "I have been working for Addus Health Care for 20 years without health insurance." Imagine working for the same company for 20 years, and not having health insurance! How many of us would do that? How many of us would go to work every day, taking care of some of Philadelphia's most vulnerable seniors, knowing that if we ourselves got sick, we couldn't get care?

The ugly reality of our country is that we don't value the work that Ms. Evelyn and her co-workers do every day highly enough to make sure that she has health care coverage. We don't value the people who do lots of service jobs highly enough to make sure they have basic health care.

I talked to one of the staffers after the event, and he told me that he thought 75% of the people in attendance were supporters of health care reform, but that they had been drowned out by a more-vocal majority. We can't let that highly vocal minority drown us out anywhere else.

We can't let the message of why we need reform get bogged down in the details of all the bills that are in Congress right now. We need to be out there beating the drum for change, so we don't get drowned out by those who want to deny health care to the Ms. Evelyns, or to prevent the kind of funding reform that will insure that hospitals have the funds they need to provide safe patient staffing.

They were a well organized and VOCAL group...

but they certainly do not represent the mainstream of opinion on healthcare reform.

Below is a clip of the tea-baggers that came to disrupt the town hall meeting, yesterday. You can see just how far to the right wing they are by reading through the crazy comments that they are posting to the video.

Tea Party Patriots say drown un + underinsured in river

I was surprised by the all the non-Philadelphia anti-health protesters, so I hung around after the event and asked some of the angry white people -- mostly middle to retirement aged suburbanites -- who organized their Philly excursion to kill Obama's plan (along with millions of un + underinsured people).

While some were reluctant to tell me, several fessed up (one thing about being a white dude with a military type haircut: you can go undercover on the other side pretty easily).

They said it was the Tea Party, which I believe turns out to be this group, Tea Party Patriots, with the friendly website banner saying "STOP! Nationalized Health Care."

Conservatives "populists" often fail the complete sentence test.

They're affiliated with a real rogues gallery of wingnuts: Lagniapper ("Check for upcoming Citizen Wealth events"), Free Our Health Care Now Petition, American Liberty Alliance, American Solutions (kind of hilarious Newt Gingrich project, whose site looks modeled on Center for American Progress', only way way lower budget and brow), Freedom Works (Dick Armey is still alive apparently, and for no good reason), Smart Girl Politics ("Operation Collar a Blue Dog"), Tea Party Express (angry older white people on a cross country bus trip that avoids major cities and other places of ethnic diversity, 8/28-9/12), Red State, Red County (Stalin lives!), and of course the inimitable Michelle Malkin.

Do we know anything else about these "drown the uninsured" Tea Party Patriots?

We are looking for more information about them

If anyone knows more please contat me.

And we also preparing materials for our activists so that they are prepared for them in the future. I have to admit that we were caught flat-footed by now obnoxious and rude they were willing to be.

A friend in Senator Specter's office told me that in 15 years of going to events like this both for the Senator and for others, he's never seen anything like this before.

That material will be up at the HCAN PA website later today. I'll update this post when it is.

Scope them out, HCAN-ers!

This is war!

Progressives have been moving in on the promised land of health care reform for generations, and like Teddy says, we've never been this close before.

But these cretins will use any dirty trick they can to stop it.

Hire somebody to do counter-intelligence!

How hard can it be when they're old country clubbers organizing on rudimentary sites without passwords?

I know some lefties struggle with the tough stuff, but now's the time to find your inner warrior!

Local schmoes to watch

Independence Hall Tea Party Association

They're helping plot the August 22 "Recess Rally" that supposedly will go on at Congressional offices.

Local organizer Teri Adams is one of the anti-union people

who kept a lawsuit going forever against the Teamsters over an incident at a 1998 protest in which she and her organizer brother Don Adams got beaten up.

She's also involved with the Pennsylvania chapter of Americans for Prosperity who are planning a counter protest at Netroots Nation, with Pat Toomey and Michelle Malkin.

Thanks for your help

We are ramping up our efforts to track and follow these folks. Anyone else who wants to help, let me know.

Our advice for activists \won't be ready til tomorrow cause I've been sick for the last day and a half.

thanks

For the research, that is really helpful Sam.

-sigh-

this would not be half the problem it is if the democrats actually believed in what they're selling.

But because it's been nothing but incoherence (from the dems, not the activisits, who are workign their asses off), there are all sorts of holes for the wingnuts to wiggle through.

and it's not like the dems have helped their case very much, with all the leeway given to the blue dogs, the sheer spinelessness of the progressive caucus, and of course at the heart of it the democrats' abject refusal to stand up to the insurance industry (which owns so many of them, including the awful mr. Baucus).

if we don't get health care reform, i'm not blaming the wingnuts.

Damn it, Brendan

You are one note chorus in blaming Democrats for losing health care reform and you are wrong.

Have you by any chance noticed that a really good health care reform bill has passed all three committees in the House of Representatives and will pass the whole House in September?

This is a bill that will get 97-98% of us good health insurance without lifetime limits, recissions, pre-existing condition limitations, and all the other things the insurance companies do to limit care. It will save the average American family thousands of dollars. And it does much of this with a public insurance plan that will over time give most Americans a choice of private or public insurance.

In 100 years of trying, we have never gotten so far with legislation that will give everyone quality, affordable, health care.

Do you think this is what the insurance companies want? Do you think this happened because the progressive caucus is spineless?

And do you think that constantly saying that health care reform is being sabotaged by Democrats is giving any of us who are actually recruiting people to come to rallies and events and stand up to the right wing any help.

I love your energy and passion when it is directed at issues you know something about. This is not one of them and you and the other cynics on the left are doing the cause you say you support absolutely no good.

Did you think we were going to pass health care reform in three days? We've been building this campaign for over a year now. The legislation was introduced six weeks ago. You once said that you don't have my patience. But considering this is the biggest piece of social welfare legislation since 1935 that will change 1/7th of the economy and have an impact on a wide range of powerful interests, it is moving quite fast. If you don't have the patience to live with the twists and turns and the ups and downs of the legislative process like this without going all to pieces and attacking the people who are on your side, you need to find something else to be writing about.

nice smackdown

thanks for the smackdown marc, and I mean that. It keeps me honest.

But to make a few things absolutely clear: I have now watched what the democrats have promised since 2006 and what they have actually DONE, not just on health care, but a host of issues. And i have come to the conclusion that like their colleagues across the aisle, what the party says and what the party does are two very different things. FISA. Wiretapping. State secrets. Closing guantanamo and restoring civil liberties.

I understand your frustration with my cynicism, but after all of this crap, I have developed a very deep well of distrust with the party. I appreciate the hard work you guys at HCAN are doing (and by the way, do you want me to keep calling dahlkmper's district, or was that just for last week), but our party has this bad habit of ignoring what the base wants. and after awhile, that reputation begins to stick.

heck, even the real democrat in the 2010 senate race doesn't believe in the fourth amendment.

And yes, i'm glad that a good health care bill has passed the house. I'm also cognizant of the fact that the progressive caucus signed a letter in which they say they won't support something without a public option, which I believe they have backed away from in exchange for a vote on single-payer that's been described as "symbolic". Is that true? And if so, what's the point of a symbolic vote that's largely expected to fail?

I've been receiving email from the democrats and the white house all weekend, and an interesting thing has happened: no one is emailing me about "health care reform" anymore. Now they're emailing me about "health insurance reform": i don't think that's the same thing.

So i realize all of this is frustrating to you, but after the past 3 years of squandered opportunities (never mind the past 8 months), you'll have to pardon me if i don't think the democrats are acting in good faith.

The public option is in all versions of HR 3200

and the actions of the progressive caucus helped reverse an agreement with the Blue Dogs that would have raised premiums, for both public and private plans.

Don't ask me to defend a symbolic vote on single payer. I've been the one saying for two years that single payer is not only politically impossible but unnecessary and that we all ought to get behind the Obama / HCAN plan.

At any rate, there was no agreement to weaken HR 3200 in exchange for a symbolic vote. We would have opposed it if there were.

Cynicism = appropos 2005, Skepticism = appropos 2009?

Appropriate responses to the politics of the day ought to change with, well, the politics of the day.

Granting ahead of time that whatever happens in American politics must in some way be made palatable to the American voting public, not just to the all-knowing blogging left, there are certain strictures to what we can expect.

In the crevice between what we believe should happen and what Obama and the DC Dems think is possible or preferable to happen, should fall a healthy helping of skepticism, no matter whether you favor single payer, or something like the Medicare-for-everyone French system I like best.

Given that even Paul Krugman started the year thinking Obama should let health care reform wait until the economy got better, I think that passing a stimulus package, improving the way so many countries view the U.S. all around the world, and getting this far on health care in the 6 1/2 months he's been in office, give the Prez and even this Congress at least enough of a pass to avoid total cynicism.

I'll agree too that we already need a do-over on financial regulation.

Or: it's good to continue pointing out everything that's going wrong in DC, but maybe not as good to yet express total hopelessness that things won't get better.

Maybe give him a year before doing that?

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