The Washington Times - May 6, 2009, 11:52AM

As President Obama looks ahead to pushing health care reform, some Democrats are splitting when it comes to including a public option within the plan.



Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean urged progressives to keep Obama’s feet to the fire and demand a public option be included, while key Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has said he’s wary about that being politically feasible.


Dean launched a new petition drive to shore up support for the idea, and is tackling the issue as well in this new ad:



Meanwhile, Baucus and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, also key to the health debate, are meeting with Obama at the White House today.


Tom LoBianco and I have a story in the paper today, looking at how the Democratic Party is split on health care and energy.

After winning most battles during his first 100 days, President Obama has begun to hit hurdles in Congress over the twin pillars of his domestic agenda, taking flak from his party’s left for not going far enough on health care and seeing his greenhouse gas emissions plan stalled by moderate Democrats and regional concerns.

The anger over his health care plan spilled over at a congressional hearing Tuesday when protesters stood and shouted, “Put single payer on the table.”

They were complaining that Mr. Obama’s and Congress’ preferred plans don’t replace the private health insurance system with one run by the government.

Former presidential hopeful and former party Chairman Howard Dean said Monday night that Democrats and Mr. Obama will suffer if they don’t strike more boldly on health care.

“If we can’t deliver a real choice to the American people and real reform, I think we lose seats in the midterm election. I think we’re going to have a hard time getting the president re-elected,” Mr. Dean said on a call with and Democracy for America members, trying to rally support for public health care. “As long as he sticks with us, and we stick with him, I think we’re ultimately going to win this.”

Read the full story here.


And as if on cue, Ralph Nader chimes in, dubbing the protesters the “Baucus Eight.”


He sent a fundraising appeal today blasting “corporate” senators who he says are blocking real health care reform.


Yesterday morning, eight doctors, lawyers and other activists stood up to Senator Max Baucus.

And the private health insurance industry.

And the corporate liberals in Congress.

The eight activists demanded that single payer - everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital - be put on the table.

And as a result they were arrested.

And charged with a so-called “disruption of Congress.”

The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Politico, Democracy Now and National Public Radio all carried stories about the protest.

C-Span carried it live.

And it was widely disseminated on the Internet.

Baucus crafted a hearing to kick off the health care debate in the Senate yesterday where 15 witnesses would be at the table to discuss health care reform.

The insurance industry was at the table.

The Business Roundtable was at the table.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was at the table.

Blue Cross Blue Shield was at the table.

The Heritage Foundation was at the table.

And corporate liberals like Andy Stern, Ron Pollack, and AARP were at the table.

But not one person who stood for what the majority of Americans, doctors, nurses, and health economists want - single payer - was at the table.

Not one.

When I heard about this corporate line-up last week, I called the office of Senator Baucus.

And politely asked that, as a matter of fairness, a single payer doctor be allowed to testify.

I was told -  no way, Ralph.

The deal is done.

So, yesterday, at 10 a.m., the Baucus Eight, led by Single Payer Action and other single payer groups, took to the Senate Finance Committee.

And directly and respectfully confronted a room full of corporate lobbyists.

And corporate controlled Senators.

And again asked that a group of doctors who were in the room to support Medicare for all be allowed to testify.

The answer again - no, no, and no.

Remember what Senator Richard Durbin said last week?

Durbin said that the banks “own” the Congress.

To which we might add - the health insurance industry and the drug industry own the Senate.

Faxing, writing, and e-mailing is not getting it done.

Enough is enough.

Time for action.

This is a winnable issue.

But the American people need to focus on 535 members of Congress.

And get mobilized.

Single Payer Action is at your service to get the job done.

So, donate now — $8, $18, $80, or $800.

To honor the Baucus Eight - who all wore black yesterday in memory of the more than 20,000 Americans who - according to the Institute of Medicine - die every year from lack of health insurance.

And to fuel a citizen action movement that will deliver single payer to the American people - sooner not later.

Together, we can break the corporate stranglehold on Congress.

And deliver health care for all.

Single payer.

More comprehensive. More efficient. More humane. More peace of mind.

Let’s get it done.

Onward to single payer,

Ralph Nader


— Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent, 
The Washington Times

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