Tomorrow is August 1, and the ball basically gets tipped for what could be a wild month of local events throughout the nation, as both sides of the political divide do battle over the health care bill. One side is funded by lobbyists and special interests, and will be out in force in August, creating mini-Brooks Brothers riots all over the country, harassing members of Congress, doing whatever they can to be the squeakiest wheel in the hopes of drowning out support for health care reform. So how will Democrats respond?
With polls suggesting that public support is sagging for President Obama’s push to overhaul health care, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the party will use the August break to make a strong sales pitch to middle-class voters.
“We’re going to be on the air. We’re going to be in the neighborhoods,” said Hoyer, D-Md. “Our members are going to now have the opportunity to go home … and say to their constituents, ‘Look, this is what we’re doing. This is why it’s good for you and your family.’ ” […]
A House Democratic memo obtained by USA TODAY shows the steps the party is taking to coordinate its message over the break. Lawmakers are encouraged to hold town-hall-style meetings, post videos on the Internet and find small-business owners “whose testimony can provide a powerful narrative,” the memo states.
There’s an opportunity here for California activists in both swing and heavily Democratic districts to impact the debate. House progressives actually moved the ball to the left, after Henry Waxman sealed a deal with Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee, forcing leadership back to the table after 57 members signed a letter saying they would never vote for such a compromise. 14 of those members come from California, and so a key activist mission over the recess would be to get more House Democrats to sign on to these principles, to pass a health care bill that provides affordable options for everyone and as robust a public insurance option as possible, open to as many people as possible, to compete with the private market. The Center For American Progress has created state-by-state fact sheets about how the current system harms regular people, and Waxman’s Energy and Commerce Committee has put out detailed district-level fact sheets for how HR 3200, the current bill in the House, would impact people.
In addition, this activist movement to find enough progressives willing to block negative compromises can provide a teachable moment for how to do this at the state level. On certain votes, we can change incentives and move them in the right direction, even in our political system, which is currently wired for conservatives.
If events are happening in your district, let us know. If your representative corresponded with you about health care, let us know that too. This is really a pretty consequential month for health care reform in America.