Robert Reich has some advice for the president:
Momentum for universal health care is slowing dramatically on Capitol Hill. ...[A]s you know, the worst news came days ago when the Congressional Budget Office weighed in with awful projections about how much the ... plans would cost... Yet these projections didn't include the savings that a public option would generate by negotiating lower drug prices, doctor fees, and hospital costs, and forcing private insurers to be more competitive. Projecting the future costs of universal health care without including the public option is like predicting the number of people who will get sunburns this summer if nobody is allowed to buy sun lotion. ...
If you want to save universal health care, you must do several things, and soon:
1. Go to the nation. You must build public support by forcefully making the case for universal health care... The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows that three out of four Americans want universal health care. But the vast majority don't know ... how much money the medical-industrial lobbies are spending to defeat it, and have no idea how much demagoguery they're about to be exposed to. You must tell them. ... Name names. They've decided to fight you. You must fight them.
2. Be LBJ. So far, Lyndon Johnson has been the only president to defeat American Medical Association and the rest of the medical-industrial complex. He got Medicare and Medicaid enacted despite their cries of "socialized medicine" because he knocked heads on the Hill. He told Congress exactly what he wanted, cajoled and threatened those who resisted, and counted noses every hour until he had the votes he needed. When you're not on the road, you need to be twisting congressional arms and drawing a line in the sand. Be tough.
3. Forget the Republicans. Forget bipartisanship. ... You can get 51 votes if you give up on trying to persuade a handful of Republicans to cross over. Eight year ago George W. Bush passed his huge tax cut, mostly for the wealthy, by wrapping it in an all-or-nothing reconciliation measure and daring Democrats to vote against it. You should do the same with health care.
4. Insist on a real public option. It's the lynchpin of universal health care. Don't accept ... a "healthcare cooperative." Cooperatives won't have the authority, scale, or leverage to negotiate low prices and keep private insurers honest.
5. Demand that taxes be raised on the wealthy to ensure that all Americans get affordable health care. At the rate healthcare costs are rising,... you'll need to tax the wealthy. Don't back down...
6. Put everything else on hold. As important as they are, your other agenda items -- financial reform, home mortgage mitigation, cap-and-trade legislation -- pale in significance relative to universal health care. By pushing everything at once, you take the public's mind off the biggest goal, diffuse your energies, blur your public message, and fuel the demagogues who say you're trying to take over the private sector.
You have to win this. ...