Keep Up Pressure for a Public Option
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In an extremely disappointing move, President Barack Obama on Saturday indicated that he would consider jettisoning a public option from his proposed health care overhaul. Addressing a town-hall-style meeting in Colorado, Obama called the public option just "one sliver" of his larger initiative.
"Whether we have it or we don't have it is not the entirety of health care reform," he said.
Then on Sunday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told CNN's John King that the Senate Finance Committee is more likely to favor nonprofit co-ops than a public option. These co-ops, Sebelius argued, would constitute an affordable middle ground between public and private control of health options.
"I think what's important is choice and competition," Sebelius said. "And I'm convinced at the end of the day, the plan will have both of those. But [the public plan] is not the essential element."
A public option's benefits have been exhaustively documented, as has the insurance lobby's toxic influence on policymakers. Seventy-two percent of America wants a public option, but that fact seems to have been forgotten amid a whirlwind of appeasements and pandering in Washington.
Still, the message from the Obama administration is not wholly apocalyptic. In an e-mail to Politico Sunday evening, White House spokeswoman Linda Douglass said "the president has always said that what is essential is that health insurance reform must lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans and it must increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. He believes the public option is the best way to achieve those goals."
So the jury still seems to be out. But one thing is clear: We must demand that the Obama administration continue its push for a public option -- the only health care initiative that would benefit citizens, not corporations.
Here are the rest of our Take Action Campaigns this week:
II -- Tell Obama How DOMA Affects You
In what could be the most exciting announcement on the gay marriage front in the past few months, the Obama administration has issued a public challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal ban on same-sex marriage.
The only problem with this is that the administration has also upheld the constitutionality of certain statutes within the law. Join the fight to dissolve DOMA completely. Tell the Obama administration how you've been affected here.
III -- Pass the Offshore Aquaculture Is Not Fishing Act of 2009
Offshore aquaculture is a method of raising fish that's similar to factory farming on land -- fish are crowded into small areas, pumped full of antibiotics, and eventually harvested. The chemicals in their bodies are usually passed on to the humans that consume them and can cause serious health problems.
A bill proposed earlier this month by Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., called the Offshore Aquaculture Is Not Fishing Act of 2009 would bring aquaculture under closer scrutiny. It prevents regional councils, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Secretary of Commerce from allowing ocean fish farming in U.S. waters.
See that this bill passes. Tell policymakers that you want to keep the public safe from poorly farmed fish.
IV -- Unlock the Camps in Sri Lanka
Even though Sri Lanka's civil war ended recently, there are more than 300,000 people still living in military-run internment camps there. Around 50,000 of them are children, and many are dying every day from the lack of water and proper sanitation.
We need to urge Sri Lanka's government to grant freedom of movement to these refugees. Encourage the authorities to place control of the camps back in civilian hands and allow journalists and aid workers access.