MoveOn, the online activist community that played such a critical role in building opposition to the Bush administration and in paving the way for its replacement by the Obama administration, is asking members whether it should now support President Obama's health-care reform legislation.
The MoveOn "team" admits in an email to the group's roughly 5 million members that Obama's proposal is "definitely not the bill most of us hoped for at the start of this fight." But, they add, "it does do some important things."
That's reasonable, as is the review of comments from MoveOn members who support and oppose the reform legislation as it currently stands.
A sampling from the "pro" side:
We all know if this bill doesn't pass, Congress won't be starting over; our choices are this bill now, or no health care reform at all for the forseeable future. -Robert B. from East Haven, CT
Don't let the good be the enemy of the perfect--I concur. No legislation is perfect the first time. This bill will significantly improve health care--insurance and drug firms behavior...once it is passed and we see results...more change can occur. For me it's a life decision...pass it now.... -Sheila L. from , CA
A sampling from the "anti" side:
Without a public option, open to everyone, the bill functions as a massive, COMPULSORY (since we will be REQUIRED to buy in) giveaway to the insurance industry. -Katherine A. from Madison, WI
This bill is a windfall for private insurers. It is a mistake to confuse health insurance coverage with health care, if insurance is mandated people will choose the cheapest they can afford which means high deductibles and really no care at all. The only real solution is single payer... -Eithne D. from Boulder, CO
I would have preferred a little more variety in the list of "helpful links" provided as background for MoveOn voters, which was limited to an overview of the president's proposal from the WhiteHouse.gov site, a CNN report on the highlights of Obama's health care proposal and a ThinkProgress article on the president's proposal and the differences between it and the Senate legislation.
It would have been terrific, for instance, if MoveOn had featured something from Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who has raised concerns about the legislation from a progressive perspective.
"If the White House is ready to go back and have a robust public option...then we have something to talk about," Kucinich said in an interview Monday night on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." Without it, the congressman concluded, "I just don't see this bill as a solution."
Kucinich dismissed the bill as "just a giveaway to the insurance companies."
With all this said, it is significant--and good--that MoveOn is holding this vote. And the results should be telling.
Here's the copy from the MoveOn email announcing the vote:
Dear MoveOn member,
We're holding a full-membership vote TODAY to chart our course on health care. Can you weigh in?
As you've probably read, President Obama and Democrats in Congress are aiming to pass a final health care package before the end of March. Not every detail is decided yet, but the final package will most likely look like the plan President Obama released two weeks ago. (For more information, see below.)
The president has offered a proposal that resembles the health care bill the Senate passed in December, but with a few key fixes. It's definitely not the bill most of us hoped for at the start of this fight, but it does do some important things. And we need to know if MoveOn members want to support or oppose it.
Can you vote today? All votes must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (PST) tomorrow, Wednesday, March 10th.
The official question is: "Should MoveOn support or oppose the final health care bill if it looks like the plan recently proposed by President Obama?" Before you vote, you'll be able to see arguments for both options from other MoveOn members, and afterwards, you can post your own argument for or against supporting the bill.
MoveOn members have worked long and hard to win health care reform. The president's proposal doesn't include a public option, a key component we've pushed for—and regardless of what we decide together today, we'll keep fighting to pass a public option. But with big votes coming up, we need your input on the president's health care proposal.