President Obama met with House Progressive leaders today on health reform. Apparently, he thanked them for their advocacy, saying it made the bill better. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Lynn Woolsey talked to Greg Sargent about the meeting:
Obama thanked the assembled, mostly liberals, for their ongoing insistence from the left over the months that the bill be improved, Woolsey says. "He thanked us," she recalled. "He said the bill wouldn't have been nearly as good as it is if we hadn't advocated."
Hearing President Obama thank House Progressives honestly made me feel good. Most of the time, it feels like progressives are a punching bag. Often, President Obama uses us as a foil, saying thing like "some on the left believe X crazy thing, and some on the right believe Y crazy thing. I believe sensible Z thing in between those two." His chief of staff tells us efforts to pressure conservative Democrats are "f*cking stupid.". And then administration supporters online yell at you when you fight back.
So yeah, it feels good to hear President Obama acknowledge our efforts in a positive, rather than a derogatory way. And it is appreciated.
Obama went further in his message to Progressives, saying that his Presidency and 31 million Americans are riding on health reform. It seems to have been a compelling message for wavering Progressives, like the other Progressive Caucus Co-Chair, Raul Grijalva (emphasis in original):
Speaking to reporters in the Speaker's lobby off the House floor, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said the President reminded them that "If this opportunity passes, much of our agenda, on the progressive side...it would be difficult, if not impossible for a generation to get back to this issue."
I asked if the message was convincing to those in attendance.
"It's pretty compelling," Grijalva said.
That's a significant change from his tone earlier in the week, when Grijalva said he was inclined to vote against the bill from the left.
At the same time, President Obama said that there were not enough votes for the public option. Greg Sargent:
In a private meeting at the White House this afternoon, Obama told a roomful of House Dems he doesn't think the votes are there to pass the public option, and urged them to take the long view and to support the Senate bill as merely the beginning of reform, Dem Rep Lynn Woolsey tells me.
Obama sorta, kinda promised to work on the public option in the future, according to former Progressive Caucus co-chair Barbara Lee:
But, she said, Obama said the current healthcare legislation is a "foundation," adding he "would work with us on the next effort."(...)
Lee did say, however, that the president was "noncommittal" about pushing for a public option in the future.
It is at least good to know that our fights are appreciated, but it is also clear to me that we have to wage them ourselves. If there is ever going to be a public option, whether in this bill or in the future, we are going to have to round up the votes on our own.
The PCCC's response to the meeting, sent over email:
"Obama is telling America, 'No, we can't.' But as Senate moderates like Tim Johnson, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen and 32 other senators joined the call for the public option in the past two weeks, the truth became increasingly clear: 'Yes, we can.' If President Obama doesn't think the votes exist in the Senate, he needs to name which senators would oppose it. If he's too weak to stomach that, than he needs to get out of the way and let those who know how to fight lead the charge." -- Adam Green, co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee
If you want a public option, and you are not willing to give in, then sign up with the PCCC. They are leading this fight.