MoveOn.org's latest target: Obama?

MoveOn.org has gone after plenty of Democrats the group deems insufficiently liberal when it comes to healthcare reform. This time, they're setting their sights on President Obama.

That's right: Just days after a Washington Post report that Obama didn't like liberal activist groups attacking Democrats for not supporting the so-called public option, a proposed government-run health insurance plan close to the hearts of liberal reformers, MoveOn.org went on the attack against another Democrat: Obama himself, or at least his highest-ranking aide.

"We shouldn't be focusing resources on each other," Obama said, according to the Post. "We ought to be focused on winning this debate."

Well, MoveOn.org is focusing resources on organizing a grassroots campaign against comments White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

The campaign may be focused on Emanuel, but when you tell people to call the White House, you're clearly telling them to send a message to the president.

Emanuel said that Obama is open to compromises on the public option plan favored by liberals as part of healthcare reform. Specifically, Emanuel indicated that Obama has not ruled out a proposal that the public option would only "trigger" if private insurance failed to cover enough people under reform. Liberals are not fans of that trigger, something the White House undoubtedly knows.

As MoveOn.org has demonstrated time and again this year, anything less than strong, unqualified support for the public option is apostasy in its eyes.

"Emanuel's remarks will only embolden conservative opponents of reform. He should be standing with the majority of Americans for a strong public health insurance option - not disastrous half-measures like the 'trigger,'" the MoveOn.org email says.

"Can you call the White House switchboard and tell them you're disappointed in Chief of Staff Emanuel's comments supporting the 'trigger?' Tell them voters want a strong public health insurance option - not half-measures like the "'rigger.'"

The president apparently wasn't happy with Emanuel's comments, either.

The White House quickly walked back them back this morning in a statement attributed to Obama, who is far, far way in Russia. "As I've said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest," Obama said.

- Jeffrey Young

Here's the entire email sent out by MoveOn.org Political Action Campaign Director Nita Chaudhary:
From: Nita Chaudhary, MoveOn.org Political Action
Date: July 7, 2009 4:46:14 PM EDT
Subject: No "trigger" on health care reform

Dear MoveOn member,

President Obama has been speaking out for weeks about the heart of health care reform: a public health insurance option that will lower costs and help cover everyone.

But yesterday, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel signaled support for a "trigger" provision - a proposal that would undermine the public option, and put off real reform for years.1

This morning the president reaffirmed his support for a public health insurance option.2 But according to The Huffington Post, Emanuel has been floating the idea of a trigger since January.3

Right now, when key committees are finalizing health care legislation, Emanuel's remarks will only embolden conservative opponents of reform. He should be standing with the majority of Americans for a strong public health insurance option - not disastrous half-measures like the "trigger."

Can you call the White House switchboard and tell them you're disappointed in Chief of Staff Emanuel's comments supporting the "trigger"? Tell them voters want a strong public health insurance option - not half-measures like the "trigger."

Here's where to call:

The White House
Phone: 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414

Then, please report your call by clicking here:

http://pol.moveon.org/whcalls/index.html

The "trigger" is a trap to kill health care reform. It would delay the public health insurance option for years, even though we're facing a health care crisis now.4 Without a strong public health insurance option to compete with private insurance companies, health care costs will continue to skyrocket and millions will remain uninsured. And a decision to delay is really a decision to deny: even if the trigger conditions are met years from now, big insurance companies will start the fight all over again to stop the public option from going into effect.

To do the job, we need a strong public health insurance option now, one that is:

* Available to all of us: A strong public health insurance option should be available to anyone who chooses to participate. If you like your current plan, you can keep it; if you want to participate in the public health insurance plan, you can choose to do so.
* A national plan with real bargaining clout: In order to truly control costs and compete with private health insurance plans, a strong public health insurance option must be available nationwide.
* Ready on day one: Every day we wait on real reform, health care costs continue to rise. A strong public health insurance option right out of the gate is key to building a competitive program that will help control costs.
* A truly public plan: To ensure it's held to the highest standards of accountability, a public health insurance option must be truly publicly run - accountable and transparent to Congress and to voters.

Can you call the White House today and let them know you're disappointed with Chief of Staff Emanuel's comments?

Here's where to call:

The White House
Phone: 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414

Let us know how it went at this link:

http://pol.moveon.org/whcalls/index.html

Thanks for all you do.

- Nita, Kat, Joan, Matt and the rest of the team

Sources:

1. "White House Open to Deal on Public Health Plan," The Wall Street Journal, July 7, 2009.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51591

2. " Obama Hasn't Compromised on the Public Plan. Yet." The New Republic blog, July 7, 2009.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51590

3. "President Tries to Put Out Fire From Emanuel's Health Care Remarks," July 7, 2009.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51592

4. "A 'trigger' for the public health insurance option? Already triggered." NOW! Blog, May 20, 2009.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51443

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