"Will Obama stand up to lobbyists and insurers to give Americans a needed public option?" By Robert Reich at Salon here.
June 12, 2009 Wednesday the American Medical Association came out against a public option for healthcare. The President has reaffirmed his support for it. The next weeks will show what Obama is made of -- whether he's willing and able to take on the most formidable lobbying coalition he has faced so far on an issue that will define his presidency.
And make no mistake: A public option large enough to have bargaining leverage to drive down drug prices and private-insurance premiums is the defining issue of universal healthcare. It's the only way to make healthcare affordable. It's the only way to prevent Medicare and Medicaid from eating up future federal budgets. An ersatz public option -- whether Kent Conrad's non-profit cooperatives, Olympia Snowe's "trigger," or regulated state-run plans -- won't do squat.
The last president to successfully take on the giant healthcare lobbies was LBJ. He got Medicare and Medicaid enacted because he weighed into the details, twisted congressional arms, threatened and cajoled, drew lines in the sand, and went to war against the AMA and the other giant lobbyists standing in the way. The question now is how much LBJ is in Barack Obama.
The big guns are out and they're firing. All major lobbying firms in Washington -- many of them brimming with ex-members of Congress -- are now crawling all over the Hill. Lots of money is on the table. . . .
Some congressional Democrats are willing and able to stand up to this barrage. Many are not. They need cover from the White House.
The President can't do this alone. You must weigh in and get everyone you know to weigh in, too. Bombard your senators and representatives. Organize and mobilize others. And let the White House know how strongly you feel. This is one of those battles that define a presidency. But more importantly, it's one of those battles that define the state of American democracy.