Health Care Reform: "The insurance lobby is taking over.”

Like Bill Clinton in his first two years, Barack Obama is attempting to pass legislation pleasing to the conservatives and the corporations instead of seizing the advantage offered by big Democratic majorities to advance change in the direction of economic justice. The result, in 1996, was victory for Newt Gingrich and his Contract On America. 2010 is shaping up as another disastrous year for Democratic congressional candidates; they have been running well behind the Republicans in generic polls for months. Incumbency will be some help, but not to liberals in closely contested districts.

If the White House learned nothing from the Clinton debacle, the same can't be said veteran members of the House. Listen to some of their comments last week as the Senate ground down health care reform.
Snowe? Stupak? Lieberman? Who left these people in charge? It’s time for the President to get his hands dirty. Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise. We need the President to stand up for the values our party shares. We must stop letting the tail wag the dog of this debate. -- Rep. Anthony Weiner, a strong backer of single-payer

It’s ridiculous, and the Obama administration is sitting on the sidelines. That’s nonsense. The White House has been useless. -- House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey

There is unbelievable frustration with the Senate. The Senate is a graveyard. They could run the place with 50 or 51 votes, but they don’t want to hurt the club. They are relying on people like Joe Lieberman, who was thrown out of the Democratic Party by the voters of his state, to tell the Democratic Party what its agenda is. That’s a very sad state of affairs. -- Rep. Peter DeFazio.

Since the Senate won’t use reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes, it doesn’t look promising for any real change. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He pledged to vote against the final bill if there is not significant movement toward the stronger House version in the conference negotiations.

Thirty percent of Democrats will not come out and vote if there is no public option in the health care bill. What does that tell you? -- Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Grijalva's co-chair.
“The president," griped Rep. John Conyers, "keeps listening to Rahm Emanuel,” no progressive's version of a good idea. As for what's happened so far in the Senate, Conyers, who introduced single-payer legislation that had wide support from colleagues before Obama took it "off the table," says, “No public option, no extending Medicare to 55, no nothing. An excise tax, god!

"The insurance lobby is taking over.”

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