My Email to President Obama on Health Care

Tim over at Balloon Juice is trying to lead in the fight over health care. He’s absolutely right:  we have to contact our representatives and senators as often as we can to reinforce their sense that we have their back if they take action on health care, and we will drop them like a rock if they don’t.

But there is another center of gravity in this debate, and that’s the White House.  It is my hope, if not quite my expectation, that President Obama will use the State of the Union address to lay his markers down.  But I’m growing fearful that what we see in his White House is a political shop that has consistently misread both the mood of the country and the actual dynamics taking place at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.  So I think we need to push there too.

If you agree, here’s where you go to send an email.  The comment line phone number, closed until Monday at 9 EST, is 202-456-1111.  I’ll be calling first thing.  The main White House switchboard number is 202-456-1414.  I plan on calling that and asking to speak to someone in the policy shop.  I’ll let you know if I get anywhere.

Here’s what I sent in to the White House today.  Please…keep ’em coming, and if you do, feel free to post them in the comment thread here.

Mr. President,

I am one of your most ardent supporters, and I spent as much of the summer and fall of 2008 as I could trying to make sure we won, and won big.  Now I have a request to make.

The time for a “hands off” management approach to the health care issue is clearly over.  I ask you to take the lead, using your prestige, your formidable powers of persuasion, and all the levers of power the office of the President possesses to lead the Congress to the passage of health reform.

What I seek is what is being touted as the grand compromise:  the House passes the Senate bill, while, with yours and the Democratic Senate leadership’s public commitment, advancing a bill through the reconciliation process that addresses those of the House’s concerns that can be enveloped in that legislative approach.

There is both moral and political need for you to lead here.  If we fail, 30,000,000 Americans will lack health care that could have it — on your watch — and as we know from studies of the consequences of lack of coverage, thousands of them will die of “financial arrest.”

I do not want that on my conscience as a Democrat — and I’m sure neither do you.

At the same time, as volunteer on Democratic campaigns since 1976, I can tell you that the impact on me and every other grass roots Democrat that I know will be awful if our party, with large majorities in the Congress and your good self in the White House, were to collapse into a puddle of self-pitying inaction because we lost a special election in which our candidate happened to run a truly terrible campaign.

We’ve come too far; we’ve worked too hard — you’ve worked too hard — to let go now.

All this is said in the context of respect for the job you’ve done across a huge number of complex issues, and thanks for your calm and reflective approach in this very dangerous and complex times. But every now and then both the politics and the policy demand something different.  This is such a time.

With all best wishes,

Tom Levenson

Image: John T. McCutcheon. Political cartoon depicting local politicians struggling to keep up with president Theodore Roosevelt during his visit to Chicago. Early 1900s.

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10 Comments on “My Email to President Obama on Health Care”

  1. Damn. You’re even remarkably skillful at writing a letter to the President. Is there anything you can’t do?

    We’ll be joining you, Professor. Enough bullshit. Let’s go for the jugular – we’ve never been this close before.

  2. Fight the good fight, Tom. I would suggest taking his hat hostage and holding it ransom for health care, but that card has been played. Besides, this is a much more tactful approach. I’ll encourage my readers to follow along…

  3. we have their back if they take action on health care, and we will drop them like a rock if they don’t.

    Interestingly thoughtful criteria based on which to apply political pressure. Apparently in your view the important thing is for them to ‘take action’. Regardless of details of said ‘action’. Action = good, non-action = bad. Actual detail-based argument in favor of the actual action they are/were proposing to take on its actual merits = absent.

    • Tom Says:

      Boy is this a pathetic comment. I guess you missed the several million words of specific argument across the blogosphere…and that part of introduction to ephemeral literature that reminds you that not every update in every venue needs to recapitulate the entire argument.

      Read young Ezra for the argument I endorse…and let me just say that we need a better class of troll around here.

  4. AJ Hill Says:

    Although it pains me to say this, after a year of ardent effort – scores of letters, hundreds of emails and telephone calls, and continual exhortations on my own blog – I’ve come to the conclusion that Barack Obama is, if not an outright poseur, certainly not the liberal Palladin we thought. I’m weary of excuses. The challenges that Obama inherited from the Bush administration might explain failure, but not lack of trying!

  5. acai order Says:

    Very good article. Insightful and entertaining as always!

  6. Jhnaitmo Says:

    I’d like to apply for this job scoreland model :-OO

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