Rep. Fattah calls for healthcare march on Capitol grounds

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) said he wants to hold a national rally and march for healthcare on the grounds of the Capitol the week after Congress returns in September.

Fattah plans to introduce a resolution calling for a national march on Sept. 13. His goal is to mobilize supporters of a public option component of any attempt to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system. The measure would authorize the use of the Capitol grounds for the march.

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“The confusion, misinformation and scare tactics about a ‘public option’ trumpeted by the opponents of real healthcare reform have dominated the national debate long enough,” Fattah said in a release issued Thursday. “It is way past time for the vast majority favoring healthcare reform with the public option to show up and speak up at the Capitol’s doorstep and make their views known to their elected representatives.”

Robert Reich, a former Labor secretary under President Clinton, first suggested the idea to coincide with National Grandparents Day, Fattah explained.

But some in his own party are warning him off the idea — arguing that the event could very well wind up looking like a recess town hall on steroids. They think angry conservative opponents of healthcare reform could flood into D.C., and that nasty or even violent clashes could break out between advocates and opponents of President Barack Obama’s plan.

“That would be a very scary prospect,” one House Democratic aide remarked. “We don’t need the pitchfork crowd closing in on the Capitol right when we get back to Washington.”

Republicans believe Fattah is overplaying his hand and vastly overestimating how many Americans support the public option component of the healthcare overhaul.

“The more the American people learn about Democrats' plan for a government takeover of healthcare, the less they like it,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). “It’s tough to see how bringing demonstrators together in Washington, D.C., to highlight one of the least popular parts of the plan is going to help. Democrats need to scrap their government takeover plan and work with Republicans on real healthcare reform.”

Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, said Fattah appears tone deaf to the distaste and even outright anger on display in the last two weeks at town halls across the country.

“If Democrats were willing to hold town hall meetings and listen to their constituents they would realize that people are marching in opposition to their proposal all across America,” he said. “Democrats can march, scream and continue to throw tantrums, but nothing will change the fact that voters don't want a government takeover of healthcare that will lead to increased costs, cuts to Medicare, and higher taxes.”