Monday, August 31, 2009


Office Of Majority Leader
Senator Harry Reid
August 31, 2009

Dear Senator Reid,

As a lifelong Democrat, and serious Democratic donor, I think I am entitled to write to you to let you know how absolutely disappointed I am with your handling of President Obama's health care reform initiative. I can assure you that your role as Senate Majority Leader was a crucial one—and by all accounts you have muffed it. Your job was to shepherd serious Health Care Reform, such as that promised us in the HELP and House legislation, through to a successful conclusion. Turning a major role over to Senator Max Baucus and pursuing a will o' the wisp strategy of accommodation with the Republican minority was a decision of crashing stupidity.

Real health care reform in this country is desired by 78 percent of the population. Even those who profess themselves “satisfied” with their current health insurance company worry ceaselessly—or they should—about what happens when their employer unilaterally decides to stop providing health insurance, about what happens if they lose their jobs, get sick, are underinsured, or try to change jobs or start a business. It is President Obama's job—as it was his promise—to reform the system entirely and create a “Public Option” that will, in effect, be like “Medicare for all.” Myself, I would prefer a true Single Payer system such as they have in Canada, or a mixed system such as they have in Germany. But whatever the decision we must have a true, robust, Public Option to keep the insurance companies honest and to create a pathway to real, affordable, health care for all.

I know that you don't read these letters, and your staff no doubt stop when they get the gist and put it all down on a tiny piece of unread paper with a check mark—so many “For” and so many “Against” this or that bill. But this needs to be said. Get us “Medicare for all” and pay for it and the Democrats as a party will reap the benefits in generation long majorities. But allow the Republicans to sabotage the efforts while still passing a bad bill under Democratic aegis? You will destroy the party for a generation. Passing a bad bill because you can't manage your own caucus or because you are unwilling to take on the Insurance companies and big Pharma is a recipe for electoral disaster, as well as a stupid strategy on policy grounds. It is bad policy and bad politics. The people know it—even if the hysterical seniors and the tea-baggers profess not to know it. It is the goal of the current Republican party to make the country ungovernable and to force the Democrats to lose on this and every progressive initiative. Every day that you treat with these obstructionists and provocateurs is a day that you are not arm twisting your own caucus and the beating the Blue Dogs into submission. Pass the HELP bill, pass the House bills, keep or strengthen the “Robust Public Option” or admit that you are utterly outmatched by an out of power, rump southern minority of angry, corporatist, bigots and get out of the way. Turn the leadership position over to someone who can lead.


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