A question for our Illinois members:
Has Sen. Roland Burris been a strong enough leader for the public option? And would you support pressuring him to be stronger?
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BREAKING NEWS: Conservative Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) announced today he will be the 60th vote to allow the Senate health care bill to move forward...after fellow Democrats agreed to new restrictions on abortion.
This comes after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) also agreed to be the 60th vote...after fellow Democrats agreed to remove a public health insurance option -- while mandating that millions of people buy insurance from private corporations.
We have a very serious question for our Illinois members as we plan our next activism steps: Do you think Sen. Roland Burris has fought strongly enough on behalf of the public option? And would you support pressuring him to be stronger?
Here's why this matters. The Senate and House will soon go to "conference committee" to iron out differences between their bills.
The House has a public option in their bill, but advocates for the Senate bill will have all the power in negotiations unless progressive senators like Roland Burris stand up now and publicly threaten to block a final bill unless it has a public option.
This is what Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson did. But unlike them, Roland Burris would be advocating on behalf of the overwhelming majority of people. This past week, we commissioned a Research 2000 poll with our friends at Democracy for America. Check out these numbers:
- Voters want the public option: 59% to 31%.
- Support for current Senate bill (mandates without a public option): 33% to 56%.
- 63% of voters say President Obama didn't fight Joe Lieberman hard enough. (Democrats: 87%)
- 81% of Democrats want Joe Lieberman stripped of his powerful committee chairmanship.
If Roland Burris and other progressive senators threatened to block a bad bill, President Obama would face a choice: Strong-arm Lieberman and Nelson to support the final bill, which has huge popular support OR strong-arm progressives into supporting a bill with 33% support. The smart choice is obvious. But it's up to progressive senators to force that choice.
Burris said recently,"I will not vote for any reform legislation that fails to include a strong public option. I believe we cannot get meaningful reform without the real competition, lower costs, and accountability that a public option can provide."
Very bold! Until yesterday, when he said, "I will find it very difficult after we've gotten this far to be the vote that would kill it." When push came to shove, progressive senators allowed themselves to get rolled by Lieberman. But it's not too late to fight back.
Our next grassroots steps will likely entail pressuring progressive senators to say they will block any final bill without a public option. But before we add Roland Burris to the list of those who need pressure, we want the opinion of our Illinois members.
Thanks for being a bold progressive.
--Adam Green, Stephanie Taylor, Aaron Swartz, Michael Snook, Natasha Patel, and the PCCC team
www.boldprogressives.org) and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. Contributions to the PCCC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purpos