There's certainly been disagreement on the left over whether it makes good strategic sense to reinsert the public option back into the health-care debate at this point in the process. But it's smart to separate that debate from the remarkable success that the grassroots push orchestrated by Democracy for America, Credo, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have had in shaping that debate. What the netroots has done on the public option is something of a master class in how you might go about doing effective online organizing.
DFA, Credo, and PCCC have been using an online call tool to aggressively "whip" the Senate to get members on record on whether they'd back the idea of having Harry Reid call a yeah or nay vote on a public health-care option to compete with private providers, should health-care negotiations move towards reconciliation. The goal is to swell momentum around the public option possibility. They've done that job quite well. Who would have thought we'd be, once again, discussing the public option at this point in the game? And they're backing their policy ideals with, well, cash. In the last day or so, for example, they've raised $80,000 in a "Dump Lincoln" fund for Bill Halter in his primary campaign against anti-public option Blanche Lincoln. Added bonus for Halter's nascent campaign: He gets to keep the email addresses of the 3,500 people who made a donation.
In a bit of new news you good folks at TAPPED are hearing first here, DFA/Credo/PCCC has just added to its list of 30 of 59 Democratic Senators backing the (re)consideration of a public option with the addition of #31, Mark Udall. From Udall's office:
Senator Udall shares President Obama’s over-arching priority of enacting meaningful and comprehensive health reform that will increase quality and access and put our system on a sustainable track by lowering costs for small businesses, taxpayers, and American families. As part of reform, he continues to feel that inclusion of a public option to go head-to-head with private insurers could play a significant role in bringing down costs and offering more affordable options to Coloradans. He thinks it’s important that such a plan -- like the one approved in the House bill -- negotiate reimbursement rates while competing on a level playing field with the private sector, and if such a plan comes up for a vote under the reconciliation process, he would vote for it.
Udall's addition makes a particularly useful rounding-out of the flock of supportive senators because he's the Colorado colleague of Sen. Michael Bennet. Bennet started the public option revival in the Senate with a letter to Reid, and has taken a beating in the local press in return. Netroots organizing has handed a gift to their hero, then, as Udall's partnership on the push gives Bennet some useful home-state cover.
-- Nancy Scola
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