A liberal group is urging Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont to stick to his guns, "be a hero," and hold out for a public option government plan in the final version of the health care overhaul.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee said today it is making 10,000 automated phone calls a day to Vermont voters. The calls feature AJ Van Tassel-Sweet of Northfield, who urges voters to call Sanders.
"I supported Senator Bernie Sanders in the past because I thought he would fight for us. But now the Senate is planning to pass a health care bill without the public health insurance option that most Americans support. Instead, it just mandates that people buy insurance from big insurance companies. That's not reform, that's a corporate giveaway. We need a hero right now who will stand up to Joe Lieberman and the insurance industry," Tassel-Sweet says.
The committee also said that it is running online ads in Vermont and other states and has collected more than 40,000 signatures since last week on an online "we need a hero" petition to Sanders.
Sanders, an independent, was one of the 60 votes that Democrats needed to move through the Senate health care bill -- which, unlike the House bill, does not include a public option. He also voted for the bill on final passage Christmas Eve, arguing that it would provide insurance for 31 million Americans, stop insurers from denying care for people with preexisting conditions, and not penalize Vermont and Massachusetts for taking steps to expand coverage on their own. He also noted that he helped secure $10 billion for community health centers.
But he still supports a full public option as a step toward a single-payer system that the political left wants.
"The congratulations that Democrats are giving themselves in Washington DC are not shared by voters across the country who overwhelmingly want a public option and oppose being required to buy insurance from companies that put profit ahead of people's health. Bernie Sanders can be a hero at this historic moment by declaring that any final bill must have a public option to win his support. That would change the entire calculus in House-Senate negotiations and force President Obama to finally fight back against Joe Lieberman's threats," Adam Green, co-founder of the committee, said in a statement.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.