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How Obama Can Put the Force Behind Health-Care Reform

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Third Piece: How to Put the Force Behind Health-Care Reform

Dear Mr. President,

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I've suggested that you've dissipated your power by abandoning the moral and spiritual force that --through your inspiration of millions of Americans-- brought you to the presidency. And I've adduced as evidence the fact that, despite how important health care reform is to taking care of the American people, the American economy, and the solvency of the American government, your clash with your disreputable enemies on this issue seems to have cost you more than it cost them.

But it is not too late to change both of those unfortunate developments. Here's what I would propose:

1) Put Forward an Obama Program

It was a mistake, it seems clear, to be so passive in the formulation of the health care plan. But even if it was not a mistake, it's time now to put YOUR plan on the table.

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This plan should be one that meets two criteria: 1) it should be practical enough that it is conceivable that IT (or something much like it) CAN BE PASSED in a scenario which assumes that that the Force is again with you; and 2) it should make important and substantive enough improvements in the present system that, in the context of all the discussion that has already taken place publicly, IT CAN INSPIRE YOUR BASE.

The first of these is necessary, of course, because it is politically important that the outcome be portrayable as a victory for you. The second of these is necessary because inspiring your base is necessary to restoring the power to your leadership that such a victory likely requires.

Push your vision now. Don't be afraid to lead. Exercise your power to the fullest, for there's no other part of the body politic that isn't sorely in need of being pulled upwards. (Surely you should be able to bestride the Washington power structure as powerfully as W did at his zenith-- you who have competence and truth and goodness on your side, where he employed fear and lies and was competent at nothing save at the art of manipulating people to get power.)

Coming out with the "Obama Plan" now does not have to seem like a change of strategy, but can instead be presented as the appropriate next stage. Here's how.

Here's what you could say, in presenting your plan, which almost certainly has to contain a robust public option (otherwise, it seems likely, no inspiration).

(BTW, if a real "public option" is not politically feasible, it would seem to be an error to have raised that expectation, since it makes a bill without it seem to your base like a retreat, or a defeat. And if there is to be no public option, present what's possible as an important and valuable STEP toward the America that we're called upon to create.)

If a public option is conceivably attainable, you can present your decision to put forward your own Obama Plan now in this way:

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: I always said that I favored the idea of the public option as a good way to provide the kind of competition to the private insurance companies that is necessary to control the skyrocketing costs. But I also always said that I was open to hearing alternative ways of achieving what needs to be achieved. Well, there apparently is NOT any other real alternative--except going still further into involving government, which I am not proposing to do. The idea of the co-ops has been proposed, but it is clear from the studies that this will not work. And nobody has proposed anything else.

So, now I'm ready to say: what America needs is a public option. Without it, costs will not be controlled. Families will go bankrupt. Businesses will be hobbled. And the federal budget will be dragged deeper into the red.


2) Take the Show on the Road

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
 

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