Why Health Insurance Reform Will Pass This Fall: Robert Creamer on Huffington Post

I’m posting this piece together with another by William Gallston to represent two different assessments of the state of the battle.

Gallston seems resigned to public opinion being too mistrustful of government to enable Obama and the Democrats to accomplish much. He therefore counsels that they attempt a more incremental enactment, in order to salvage SOMETHING and to provide a basis for accomplishing more in the future.

Creamer here, below, thinks the bolder goals can still be achieved.

As for which assessment is more valid, I do not claim to know.


Why Health Insurance Reform Will Pass This Fall — It’s the High Political Ground

by Robert Creamer
Huffington Post, September 3, 2009

Forget about the talking heads’ narrative about the “sagging prospects” of President Obama’s health insurance reform proposal. Much of the same gang was completely convinced that Obama could never win the nomination — and once nominated would have a hard time winning the election.

You have to wonder sometimes if there shouldn’t be a penalty for pundits who make self-assured predictions that are regularly wrong, and yet continue to be treated as if they know what they’re talking about.

The fact is that the odds are very good that President Obama will succeed in passing landmark health insurance reform legislation this fall – with a robust public health insurance option. The reason is simple: it’s the high political ground.

Health insurance reform represents the high political ground for four major reasons:

1). Most Americans – including swing voters – can’t stand the health insurance industry. As Congress reconvenes, the Administration and its allies will unleash a major drive to correctly define the battle as a contest between the interests of private health insurance companies and ordinary Americans. Health Care for America Now (HCAN), the big coalition of progressive organizations and Labor, will put it this way: If the insurance companies win, you lose.

They will systematically define just how the big private insurers impact ordinary people and how the Obama health insurance reform proposal will solve the problem.

It’s a pretty compelling narrative. For decades, the health insurance companies have made a fortune (over $60 billion in profits over the last eight years) by denying claims, denying insurance because of pre-existing conditions, making health care decisions instead of doctors and raising premiums almost four time faster than wages.

And all the while the CEO’s of the ten largest insurers made an average of $8.5 million in pay last year – about $4,100 per hour.

Think about the campaign commercial that paints the picture of the incumbent Member of Congress who votes for health insurance CEO’s like Cigna’s Edward Hanway — who will retire with a $73 million golden parachute this fall – and votes against patients who are denied coverage for their cancer treatments. It is not a pretty political picture and it will become more and more vivid in the minds of Members of Congress as November 2010 comes into view over the political horizon.

2). The Obama Administration will use every ounce of its political capital to win this battle. The President and his top advisors understand that — when it comes to health care — failure is simply not an option. They know that defeat on health care would be a huge blow to the President’s ability to pass his entire agenda and his own standing with the voters. People follow successful leaders – not those who fail.

As a result, the President will use every bit of his charm, his persuasive ability and the formidable powers of the Presidency to secure the votes to win.

And make no mistake. While Barack Obama would prefer a bi-partisan bill passed through the regular order with broad consensus, he has an iron will and will pass a bill by one vote using special budget procedures if that is necessary to win. He is a huge fan of Lincoln’s Team of Rivals, but in matters of legislation his model is Lyndon Johnson.

Anyone who doubts the strength of his resolve – or his resourcefulness – doesn’t yet understand Barack Obama.

3). As the vote grows closer, many moderate Democrats will begin to realize the price they will pay personally if health insurance reform fails. After the defeat of the Clinton health care proposal in 1994, it was not the most progressive members of the Democratic Caucus who lost when the Republicans took back control of the House – it was the moderates and conservatives.

The fact is that just as a rising tide raises all boats, when the tide recedes, it is those in the shallowest political water who are left aground.

If the President’s positives — and those of the Democratic Party — plummet because they fail to pass health insurance reform (which is exactly what the Republicans believe will happen), moderate Democrats — even those who opposed the bill — will pay the price at the polls. In the final analysis after all, even in more conservative districts, if swing voters decide they like Democrats less, they are likely to vote for a real Republican not a Democrat who acts like one.

This principle works for both parties. Last year, when the political tide receeded for Republicans across the country, the losers were not Members from bright red districts. They were people like Norm Coleman and Gordon Smith who turned themselves into pretzels to look “moderate”.

4). Finally, the pundits have ignored a critically important new development : the Obama base has been energized.

Early in August, Progressives were surprised at the ferocity of the right wing assault on Congressional town meetings. But it didn’t take long for them to respond. Led by Obama’s own organization , Organize for America (OFA), as well as HCAN, the Service Employees International Union, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — hundreds of thousands of Progressives have been mobilized to counter the Right. They swamped the Right at town meetings at the end of August and are now conducting a week of 2000 “Let’s Get It Done” events in the lead-up to Congress’ return.

There is no longer any lack of progressive intensity. The right wing assault awakened progressive passion that has spread like the Los Angeles wildfires.

My wife, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, hosted a town meeting in Skokie, Illinois on Monday night that attracted 2,300 people. Eighty-percent supported reform — and they were pumped.

The response of voters asked to call Congress about health insurance reform has exploded.

Some of the millions of Americans who were engaged and mobilized by last year’s Presidential campaign may have taken a respite from politics in the early months of 2009 – but they’re back – and they are a massive political army that cannot be taken lightly.

In other words, as Members of Congress reconvene on the battleground for this fall’s decisive engagement over health insurance reform, they will look up the political ridge and see that the cavalry has arrived.

I believe we will win.

Robert Creamer is a longtime political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win

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18 Responses to “Why Health Insurance Reform Will Pass This Fall: Robert Creamer on Huffington Post”

  1. Howard Norris Says:

    I hope you’re right. The Congress, both the Senate and the House, do not respond to the people. They count the potential political donations first, and those are mostly from the corporate structure that has taken over this country. In other words, don’t count on your political leaders to do the right thing. Count on them to do the safe thing–whatever it will take to guarantee their re-election. None-the-less, we must keep up the fight. We will eventually win. Just maybe not this time. A word of caution, don’t vote for a Republican candidate even if we loose the insurance reform fight. No matter how disgusted we are with the Democrats, they are the only party that will ever pass what we will eventually have–single payer health care for all.

  2. Welder Says:

    CAUGHT ON TAPE: Obama HCAN Organizer Instructs Supporters How to Shout Down Opponents & Take Over Meetings Sort by Gateway Pundit

    More Hope and Change– A Health Care for America Now (HCAN) organizer is caught on tape outside the meeting instructing supporters on how to shout down opponents who get up to ask a question and how to block them from speaking at Rep. Jan Schakowski’s town hall meeting. Notice the HCAN stickers he is handing out at the end of the video: This was recorded on August 31, 2009 outside the Jan Schakowsky


  3. Alex Says:

    I’d respect your participation here more, Welder, if you showed yourself to be something more than a mere partisan. On the previous thread, you seemed interested only in the polls that served your partisan case, and never indicated any pause when shown polls that went against it.

    And now this.

    Assuming that your information here is correct (and I didn’t check the youtube link), that is something worth pointing out. But what about “the pot calling the kettle black” factor.

    Should we imagine you simply don’t know all of what “your side” has been doing that’s this bad and much worse? Or is it that you know but don’t care about information that doesn’t help you win some partisan argument?

    Do you care about fairness and unfairness? Do you care about hypocrisy? Or is partisan victory the only thing that matters?

  4. Welder Says:

    I’m merely attempting to provide some balance, it often appears that everyone here is working from the same point of reference. I draw from numerous sources, both right and left to form my opinions and much of what transpires in this and other debates is rarely revealed here.

    Doubtless I am a partisan, just as everyone here appears to be. I’m not a “registered” anything, but it should hardly surprise you that I’m of a conservative bent. Would you care to enlighten me as to what “my side” has been doing that’s “this bad and much worse?” So far the only violence I’ve seen has been perpetrated by the “other side”; a black man beaten by union thugs, a senior citizen having his finger bitten off…

    And, if you’d like to see some more examples of “astroturfing”, I can offer many others. After all, David Axelrod’s work is considered the “gold standard” of the art. Indeed, I’m sure the conservatives are learning to organize “street protests”, a tactic that has been predominately a tool of the left. I guess we’ve just decided to start using the same rule book as our opponents…

    As for the polls I’ve mentioned, had you continued to follow the thread, you would have seen my position borne out. The internals of the CBS poll revealed a 2 to 1 weighting. Obama is in trouble, and it’s not because of any “right wing conspiracy”. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Van Jones under the hope and change bus in short order. But, I’ve certainly been wrong before.

    Fairness to one is quite often unfairness to another…

  5. Welder Says:

    Inconvenient facts…

    Authorities are searching for a healthcare reform supporter who they said bit off the fingertip of a 65-year-old man during a fight at a MoveOn.org rally in Thousand Oaks.

    The incident occurred about 7 p.m. Wednesday at a “We Can’t Afford to Wait” vigil organized by affiliates of the activist group MoveOn.org, which drew supporters of President Obama’s healthcare plan, said Senior Deputy Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. The rally also attracted several counter-protesters, he said.

    During the rally at Lynn Road and Hillcrest Drive, the suspect and William James Rice got into an argument and began fighting. Rice, of Newbury Park, punched the suspect after the man called him an “idiot,” Buschow said.

    At that point, the suspect bit off part of Rice’s left pinkie, Buschow said.



    A leaked email originating from Congressman Jay Inslee’s office may reveal a widespread astroturfing effort on behalf of Washington Democrats and liberal interest groups to pack town halls with “grassroots supporters” of government-run health care.

    In stark contrast to a spontaneous grassroots groundswell against President Obama and Congressional Democrats’s government-run health plan, it appears both overt and covert efforts are underway to orchestrate support for the President’s agenda from the highest-levels of the political Left.

    In the email which follows below the jump, Inslee’s official Congressional scheduler forwarded to State Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz a list of upcoming town halls the Congressman has scheduled.

    Pelz then forwarded the email with a note saying “Let’s keep turning people out for these!” to high-ranking Democrat and union organizers including: “progressive” political group FUSE Executive Director Aaron Ostrom, Organizing for America State Director Dustin Lambro (the President’s on-going campaign arm housed at the DNC), and Washington State Labor Council Political Director Benjamin Lawver (one of the state’s most powerful union committees).

    A Longview event focusing on Mt. St. Helens with Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, along with embattled Congressman Brian Baird, was cancelled in recent weeks after Lambro, the OFA organizer, mis-construed the purpose of the event in an email to supporters.

    NWD Contributor Nansen blew the lid off that story in an earlier post titled, “Going Stealth in Longview.”

    The email trail seems to suggest an on-going and coordinated campaign among Democratic Congressmen, Democratic Party leaders, as well as official campaign arms of liberal interest groups and unions, to issue marching orders for members and activists. Similar efforts to disguise ObamaCare astroturfing as spontaneous grassroots efforts have occurred in other parts of the country as well.



    Working from the same office as his AKP&D firm, “Axelrod operates a second business, ASK Public Strategies, that discreetly plots strategy and advertising campaigns for corporate clients,” reported BusinessWeek. Axelrod’s ASK partners are John Kupper and Eric Sedler, the latter previously of AT&T and Edelman. [6]

    ASK is known for creating front groups. Chicago Alder Brendan Reilly called ASK “the gold standard in Astroturf organizing.”

    In August 2009, as the fight over healthcare reform intensified, reform opponents (mostly Republicans) criticized the “huge ad buys” that pro-reform groups made through Axelrod’s old firm. “Two separate $12 million ad campaigns advocating Obama’s health care plan … were produced and placed partly by AKP&D Message & Media, a firm founded by Axelrod that employs his son and still owes Axelrod $2 million,” reported Politico.com. Another firm working on the ad campaigns, GMMB, “did millions of dollars of work on Obama’s presidential campaign.” Both GMMB and AKPD “tout their connections to [Obama’s] campaign and still maintain close ties to his inner circle.” The ad buys were placed by Americans for Stable Quality Care and its predecessor, Healthy Economy Now, coalitions including the labor union SEIU and the drug industry group PhRMA. A Republican memo, referring to a PhRMA-Senate deal to limit reform costs to the drug industry to $80 billion over ten years, asked whether Axelrod “recused himself from the PhRMA ‘deal,’ or will he work to defend an agreement with an industry that is directly funding his son’s work, and indirectly funding his own $2 million severance package?” The coalitions said they chose AKPD for its respected track record, not its Obama ties. The White House replied that Axelrod is in full compliance with its ethics rules. [5]



  6. Welder Says:

    “There are none

    so blind as those

    who will not see”


  7. Samuel Says:

    This from the fellow who, when challenged by Alex about the pot calling the kettle black, comes back asking, “Would you care to enlighten me as to what “my side” has been doing that’s “this bad and much worse?”

    It is the most stunning story in America this year, and he draws a blank.

    Now he taunts us with “none so blind as those who will not see.” That Weller seems a decent sort, and neither stupid not inattentive, only adds to my despair. What is this we see, and is there any remedy for it to be had?

  8. Welder Says:

    Please, elucidate me. Pretend I’ve been on Neptune the last year or so and have suffered from a bad ISP connection.

    I repeat:

    “Would you care to enlighten me as to what “my side” has been doing that’s “this bad and much worse?”

    With specificity and verifiable proof, if you please…

    And, is there no response to what I have posted, inclusive of it’s veriafiable proof?

  9. Andrew Bard Schmookler Says:

    Is there someone here on NSB who’d be willing to respond to Welder’s request for information about what the Republicans and the right-wing have been doing that’s “as bad and much worse” than what he’s pointed out from the liberal side.

    If one watched Rachel Maddow, each weekday night, for the past four months –just to name one source– one would have an abundance of things to point to. I myself do not have the time or the energy right now to make such a case. But I would be glad if someone would provide a substantive response. His question seems to me to be sincere.

  10. Andrew Bard Schmookler Says:

    Just a couple of notes, till someone does something better. There are the lies– like the death panel lies; there’s the insurrectionist talk, as well as the secessionist talk (with moves in some state legislatures); there’s the marriage between insurance company money and the Republican Party in putting out the lies; there’s the shouting down at the town hall meetings; there’s the birther movement, in which major Republicans and right wing voices helped to foster. I regard most of this as considerably more serious and dark, in terms of what it displays about the right these days, than anything I see happening on the other side.

    In fact, I believe the combination of craziness and evil on the right, to polarize our political process, is the most important and dangerous thing going on in America today, and (for conduct of a major political party) is as far as I know unprecedented in its dishonesty and sheer lack of construtive intent in the history of the United States. (I know I’ve never seen anything remotely like it, at the center stage of our political process, for this kind of thing has always previously been at the fringes.)

  11. Welder Says:

    Fair enough, let me deal with the “death panel lie”. Rather, since Thomas Sowell is somewhat better spoken than myself, I’ll let him handle it. Obviously, this is his opinion, but it mirrors mine and he makes a compelling argument. Indeed, the controversial “death panel” wording was removed from HR3200 not long after Sarah Palin’s op-ed highlighted it.

    ‘Death Panels’ Just A Rumor? Go Ask Ezekiel

    By THOMAS SOWELL | Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:20 PM PT

    There was a time when rushing a thousand-page bill through Congress so fast that no one has time to read it would have provoked public outrage. But now, this has been attempted twice in the first six months of a new administration.

    4-Part Series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

    The fact that they got away with it before, with the “stimulus” bill, may have led them to believe that they could get away with it again.

    But the first bill simply spent hundreds of billions of dollars. The current “health care” bill threatens to take life-and-death decisions out of the hands of individuals and their doctors, transferring those decisions to Washington bureaucrats. People are taking that personally — as they should. Your life and death, and that of your loved ones, is as personal as it gets.

    The mainstream media are again circling the wagons to protect Barack Obama, but this time it may not work. One of those front-page editorials disguised as a news article in the New York Times begins:

    “The stubborn yet false rumor that President Obama’s health care proposals would create government-sponsored ‘death panels’ to decide which patients were worthy of living seemed to arise from nowhere in recent weeks.”

    Nowhere? Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is “special adviser for health policy” for the Obama administration. That’s nowhere? He is also co-author of an article on Americans’ “over-utilization” of medical care in the June 18, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Is that nowhere?

    Dr. Emanuel’s article points out that Americans do not visit doctors or go into hospitals more than people in other industrialized countries. In fact, we go to both places less often than people do in those other countries, which include countries with government-controlled medical care.

    As the article points out, “It is more costly care, rather than high volume, that accounts for higher expenditures in the United States.” There are more magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices per capita in the United States, more coronary bypass operations, and Americans use more new pharmaceutical drugs created within the past five years.

    Americans also have more of what the article calls “amenities” with their medical care. “Hospital rooms in the United States offer more privacy, comfort and auxiliary services than do hospital rooms in most other countries.”

    In other words, it is not quantity but quality that is different — and more expensive — about American medical care. This is what Dr. Emanuel’s “over-utilization” consists of.

    At one time, it would have been none of Dr. Emanuel’s business if your physician prescribed the latest medications for you, rather than the cheaper and obsolete medications they replaced. It would have been none of his business if you preferred to have a nice hospital room with “amenities” rather than being in an unsanitary ward with inadequate nursing care, as under the National Health Service in Britain.

    The involvement of government gives Dr. Emanuel the leverage to condemn other Americans’ choices — and a larger involvement of government will give him the power to force both doctors and patients to change their choices.

    As for a “death panel,” no politician would ever use that phrase when trying to get a piece of legislation passed. “End of life” care under the “guidance” of “some independent group” sounds so much nicer — and these are the terms President Obama used in an interview with the New York Times back on April 14.

    He said “the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80% of the total health care bill out there.” He added: “It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. That is why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance.”

    But when you select people like Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel to give “independent” guidance, you have already chosen a policy through your choice of advisers, who simply provide political cover. The net result can be exactly the same as if those providing that guidance were openly called “death panels.”



    In addition to Mr. Sowell’s comments I might also ask how one might add 50 million non paying individuals to the healthcare system without any corresponding increase in resources. Without more doctors, nurses and facilities, you simply cannot deal with such an influx without some sort of rationing. And with 500 billion slated to be cut from Medicare to fund Obama’s healthcare initiative, the senior’s rightfully see themselves in the crosshairs.

    I also note that Van Jones has been thrown overboard; a great many of Obama’s difficulties stem from the people with whom he has chosen to surround himself. Jones was a self described Communist and a 9-11 truther. He had also indicated that his goal was to use the “green” movement to further the cause of “revolution”. Until last night, he was in charge of spending 80 billion dollars of tax payer money.

    Now, do you still think it unreasonable for average working class folks like myself to be less than eager to take everything the Obama administration says and does at face value?

  12. Welder Says:

    Ok, I guess I’m getting what the Mennonites hereabouts call “the Shun” :)

    Well, what do folks think of Olbermann’s latest antic; he is one of “yours”, I believe…

    Send Me Everything You Can Find About Glenn Beck
    by Keith Olbermann

    Share this on Twitter – Send Me Everything You Can Find About Glenn Beck Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 10:14:03 AM PDT

    I don’t know why I’ve got this phrasing in my head, but: Find everything you can about Glenn Beck, Stu Burguiere, and Roger Ailes.

    No, even now, I refuse to go all caps.

    No, sending me links to the last two Countdowns with my own de-constructions of his biblical vision quality Communist/Fascist/Socialist/Zimbalist art at Rockefeller Center (where, curiously, he works, Comrade) doesn’t count. Nor does sending me links to specious inappropriate point-underscoring prove-you’re-innocent made-up rumors.

    Keith Olbermann’s diary :: :: Tuesday we will expand this to the television audience and have a dedicated email address to accept leads, tips, contacts, on Beck, his radio producer Burguiere, and the chief of his tv enablers, Ailes (even though Ailes’ power was desperately undercut when he failed to pull off his phony “truce” push).

    This becomes necessary after this in order to prove various cliches about goose and gander, and to remind everybody to walk softly and carry a big popsicle, and most particularly to save this nation from the Oligarhy of The Stupid.

    I keep wondering if somewhere somebody named Ollie Garhey thinks he’s in charge now. Or, even more entertainingly and societally satisfying, if somebody named Ali Garhi does.

    Despite the worn-out snark above, I am in earnest here.



  13. Andrew Bard Schmookler Says:

    I’d be glad for some folks here to engage with you, Welder. I’d like for the discussion to sort out where you’re right and where you’re not, where your conclusions are warranted from your valid evidence and where they’re not, what’s present in your picture and what’s missing, etc.

    Only occasionally am I likely to regard that as being an appropriate way to invest my own time and energy, both of which are in scarce supply. But as I say, and indeed I’ve said it before, I do wish there would be such engagement from others here.

    But each person makes his/her own choice on such matters, and for whatever reason, people are not choosing to do so.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    We all have scarcity of time and energy, but I considered this, at this point in time, a worthwhile usage of mine.

    Facts are stubborn things, to quote one of Obama’s minions, and perhaps the lack of a response indicates a lack of contrarian facts…

  15. Anonymous Says:

    We all have scarcity of time and energy. I considered this a worthwhile investment, at this point in time, of mine.

    Facts are stubborn things, to quote one of Obama’s minions. Perhaps the lack of a response indicates a lack of contrarian facts…

  16. Welder Says:

    And apparently now I’m anonymous :)

  17. Andrew Bard Schmookler Says:

    You’re anonymous, presumably, because you stopped typing in your name in that slot above the comment box.

  18. Welder Says:

    Yep, it did not autofill – I’ve made the appropriate adjustment.

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