Thursday, July 09, 2009

Is Blanche Lincoln Coming Around On Health Care Reform?


Who'll be the next in line?

One of Blue America's biggest successes was when we put together 6 full page newspaper ads asking why a Democratic congressman would join the GOP in opposing health care for needy children. Before we could run the ads 5 of the Democrats announced they were changing their positions in favor of reform and we were able to save the thousands of dollars we had scheduled to spend. We still ran the full page ad against Jim Marshall, an ultra-conservative Democrat from Georgia, and he voted with Republicans against the kids anyway. Jim Marshall, a Zeller Miller Democrat, will have Blue America on his ass for the rest of his miserable career.

Yesterday when I woke up I had a letter from Digby telling me that Blanche Lincoln, the first target of the Blue America Campaign for Health Care Choice is reassessing her support for Insurance Industry CEOs against the interests of Arkansas' working families. (A few days ago we mentioned that one of the families she shills for-- the Waltons of Wal-Mart-- may also be telling her to change her reactionary position.) "Individuals should be able to choose from a range of quality health insurance plans," said Senator Lincoln. "Options should include private plans as well as a quality, affordable public plan or non-profit plan that can accomplish the same goals as those of a public plan." She sounds almost like a Democrat. Digby:
Far be it for me to suggest that the threat of a barrage of ads throughout the state using the words "quality public plan" would precipitate this, but her office was informed about what was coming down the pike starting.

Greg Sargent at Who Runs Gov speculated today that "pressure from the left might be getting results, albeit limited ones, in the case of “centrist” Dem Senator Blanche Lincoln, who has been resisting any commitment to backing a public health care option."
Lincoln, who’s getting hammered by ads demanding she commit to the public option, has now shifted towards supporting one, at least in rhetorical terms. In a piece for today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, she says health care reform should include a public plan or a non-profit substitute.
Here’s the key graf from Lincoln:
Health care reform must build upon what works and improve inefficiencies. Individuals should be able to choose from a range of quality health insurance plans. Options should include private plans as well as a quality, affordable public plan or non-profit plan that can accomplish the same goals as those of a public plan.

The assertion that reform “should” have a public plan or non-profit substitute is a shift from her previous position, which was only that she was “evaluating” a public plan or a substitute.

Lincoln’s position had made her a top target of the left. The Blue America PAC, which is headed by liberal bloggers Howie Klein, Digby, dday, Jane Hamsher and John Amato, raised money for ads targeting Lincoln in her home state of Arkansas, pushing her to commit to a public option.

To be sure, Lincoln left herself wiggle room. The non-profit substitute for a public plan could take many forms, and the idea is viewed in some quarters as a potential ruse to avoid creating a strong public option. But Lincoln clearly seems to be shifting on the question.

TPM made much the same point today in the post Amid Pressure From Party Leaders And Reformers, Blanche Lincoln Now Open To A Public Option.
A couple things to keep in mind. First, Lincoln has been under fire from reformers for being unwilling to unequivocally endorse the public option-- and since she still hasn't done that, it's hard to imagine they'll be fully satisfied.

Second, this comes as Democratic leaders are making their strongest push yet to unite caucus members ahead of a tough fight over health care reform. Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing the Senate Finance Committee to move ahead with a comprehensive and satisfactory health care reform bill with or without Republican support, and, relatedly, Majority Whip Dick Durbin is urging party members to oppose Republican filibusters on Democratic agenda items, even if they don't support the underlying legislation.

So where does that leave the Blue America community? Our first batch of TV spots started running all over Arkansas today. We're talking about putting the second wave on hold now that Lincoln (and Pryor) seem to be moving in the right direction. We'll re-assess in a week. Meanwhile, we're trying to decide what state our next target should be. Pennsylvania, where Republican-Democrat hybrid freak Arlen Specter take even more outrageous bribes from the Medical-Industrial Complex and Big Insurance than Lincoln and who is playing a devious behind the scenes role in trying to water down the effectiveness of a public option at the behest of his patrons? Or how about Iowa, the home of Chuck Grassley, the Republican tasked by the Insurance Industry with being on the front line of offense against the entire concept of "robustness"in a public option. As ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee-- something he held onto rather than take on that position on the Judiciary Committee for the specific purpose of working with his pal Max Baucus to weaken any reform to the point of making it ineffective-- Grassley makes an excellent target of opportunity. He also has to face a politically well-educated voting base in a blue-trending state in 2010. Imagine ridding the SEnate-- and American politics of a worse-than-worthless hack like Evan Bayh! Or maybe you have another suggestion? Let us know-- and, please, continue donating to the Campaign for Health Care Choice. We can make this work, one crooked senator at a time!

Meanwhile, where do we look for leadership on health care policy? Ken suggested Howard Dean the other day. I'm with him on that-- and with another Vermonter as well, Senator Bernie Sanders. THis is the guy who should be writing the legislation, not disgraceful Big Business shills like Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley.

UPDATE: Our Blanche Lincoln Ad Goes National

David Shuster ran our ad on MSNBC as a news story today-- and invited Jane on to talk about it.

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At 10:23 AM, Blogger VG said...

Howie- I don't the cost $$ of running a second round of ads in Blanche's territory, so obviously it's up to you and all to do a cost/ benefit analysis.

But, my gut reaction is that there should be a second round of ads, 1) to hammer home the idea that weasel words won't work and 2) make sure that the info/ message penetrates even more thoroughly to the AK voters, increasing the probability that they will continue to pressure Lincoln way the time the ads are being run.

my 2 cents.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger VG said...

my other 2 cents-

Specter or Grassley?

Grassley- partly based on what you have said in the post, and partly my view of Specter and PA.

Specter is a slippery as they get, and an old hand at speaking out of both sides of his mouth. My call is that he would shrug off critical ads, just like he is teflon to almost all criticism. And PA seems to be a very unpredictable red blue mix.

Course, Grassley and Iowa might be the same as above. You know better than I do, Howie.

But, an added factor in my 2 cents is that I'd guess that ads in Iowa are less costly than in PA.

Another factor that I don't know (remember?) but you may have put up in a DWT post is the relative state of health care in Iowa vs. PA. How do they compare?

okay, my 4 cents...

At 10:49 AM, Blogger VG said...

Typo in first comment- Arkansas AR, not AK! Sorry

At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Lee said...


We'll I'm in Pa...and trust NOTHING that Specter (D-Flip-Flop) says or does. He just thinks we Pennsylvanians are stupid and won't notice when he flip and flops and votes no on any real reform.AND you know he will.

if you decide to run a commercial please consider this. Given his age and the type of cancer he fucking fast do you think a free market private insurer like mine would have dropped him?

At 2:44 PM, Anonymous jacksmith said...


It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.


We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats the Tri-Caucus and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and request that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

If President Obama has to declare a NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY to rescue the American people from our healthcare crisis, he will need all the sustained support you can give him. STICK WITH HIM! He’s doing a brilliant job.



Join the fight.

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

God Bless You


At 4:05 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Spectre isn't worth the money -- and Pennsylvania is expensive! Let's go after Grassley, he's the lead point man and he's up in 2010. Softening the Iowa earth for a potential challenger next year would be an excellent side benefit.

But don't slow up on Blanche: these are weasel words from her to stop us from communicating directly with her constituents. I say she deserves more next week.

At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Clint H said...

We really need to go after the Blue Dog Dems and make sure they stay on task here and vote YES. We really need to stress how expensive private health care is for the small business owner who is held hijacked each year with a 15% increase over the year before in premiums while the HMO increase their profits over the previous year by 150% or more.

At 4:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously? I prefer having choices of whether I want to go w/ my spouse's or my employer's health insurance offers. I am a diabetic and I do not want the government telling me what they will or won't pay for!

I am a Social Worker who specializes in Medicaid programs. Wake up, America! I've seen how the Medicaid program is ran on a daily basis! And you want the Feds to come in and run our healthcare? Seriously?

I was in the military, sent overseas to Romania in 2005. Our own government did not allot my Unit enough funds to have the proper amount of medical supplies for our stay in Romania. I was injured and I had to be transported to a Romanian city hospital. Let me tell you a little bit on what a National Healthcare Nation offers... there were people lined all the way around the corner and inside the hospital just waiting to have medical personnel to SPEAK to them. Under NATO orders, working along w/ Romanian military, the Romanian soldiers took me to the head of the line - I, an American, was served before the Romanian citizens because government officals said so (how would you like that to happen to you?). I felt guilty but I had no choice, I could not insult the Romanian officers. The hospital was filthy! The walls, the floors the doors were dirty - I am talking about dirt all over the place, not just a "dirty look", I mean real dirt all over the floors. The lighting was dim, very dim - rooms that had windows had no lighting. There was no air conditioning and when I met with the Romanian physician at the hosptial who wrapped my foot and ankle told me the Romanian hosptials do not even have air conditioners in the surgery rooms! Can you imagine the bacteria? The Xray roomm in which I was taken was out of the 1950s, tile from floor to wall to ceiling in a large room with an antique xray machine. The Romanian physician told me when he was a child, he wanted the US to come over and rescue Romania from the Soviet Union but now the government there is ran by the Russain mafia. He said he can not offer the right medical needs for patients, he does what he can with what supplies he has.

Oh, and dental? Yeah, that is equally as bad. Another active duty US soldier serving in Romania with me had to endure the most disturbing city dental office, close to the hosptial where we were - he told of the same type of experiences. The dentist office was dirty, the dentist looked overworked, told the soldier he did not have the supplies for the root canal that was needed so he did some type of patch job until the soldier could get to Germany. National Healthcare will be on the decline as soon as Obama has his way and we suffer under his "reform" - watch and see.

I'm not saying the healthcare we have now is perfect but it is nice to have choices - I like having choices maybe you don't. God bless all of us!


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