Tonight, Obama comes before a joint session of Congress to deliver a primetime speech that many hope will prevent health care reform from becoming a political and legislative train wreck. Unfortunately, it's already a political and legislative train wreck.
For those asking how a party that dominated the election in last November has gotten to this point, the cold hard reality is that this administration has chosen to "go-it-alone" ever since the public push for reform began and as a result they have struggled to organize political support for reform by foolishly employing conventional wisdom.
Earlier this year, as the push for reform began, a base of progressives and independents who supported Obama in the election and turned his election into an overwhelming victory, the same people who gave him his mandate for hope and change, came out to provide help with the administration's campaign for health care reform.
But, before the campaign was even underway, ground rules declaring that single-payer health care would not be an option up for consideration were set by the administration. Activist groups like MoveOn, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and groups involved in Health Care for America Now (HCAN) followed the administration's demands and limited their work to campaigns for "quality and affordable health care" reform.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), a man tasked with handling hearings on health care reform in May, a man who "has received more campaign contributions from the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations than any other current Democratic member of the House or Senate" refused to listen to single-payer advocates and hold a hearing on the prospects of a single-payer health care system.
After months of fighting, finally in June supporters of single-payer earned a private meeting with Baucus. A prime supporter of a government-run health care system, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) participated in the meeting.
But, by then it was summertime and Democrats and the Obama White House had settled on working to pass a "public option," a proposal that seemed to be a watered-down version of a robust Medicare for All plan [HR 676].
As Democrats began to seriously work out bills in committees, the backlash from Republicans and tea party "astroturf" groups across America began to heat up.