Michael Moore to President Obama: Don’t ‘Desert’ Your Fellow Liberals

Sep 29, 2009 4:03pm

Those votes in the Senate Finance Committee against a public option can't have made him happy, but Michael Moore is making the rounds in DC today.  My colleague, ABC’s Teddy Davis, staked him out: Filmmaker Michael Moore urged President Obama on Tuesday to abandon the split-the-difference strategy he has pursued on health-care reform and to take up arms with liberals who are pushing to create a government-run health-care plan which would be open to all Americans. “You are one of us. You come from us. It is not the time to desert us. This is not the time to be the representative of the private health insurance industry,” said Moore. “We need you to stand up. Stand up. Be bold. Be brave. Be strong. We’ve got your back. And we want universal health care for every single American and we want it controlled in a single payer system, like the Medicare and the V.A., and all the other ‘socialized medicine’ that we have in this country.” Watch it HERE. Moore’s remarks came on the same day that the Senate Finance Committee was voting down two amendments which would have added a government insurance option to the health-care bill prepared by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont, the committee’s chairman. Unlike the health-care bills passed by four other congressional panels, the Baucus proposal in the Finance Committee does not contain a public option. Speaking at the Washington, D.C., offices of Public Citizen, Moore said that Democrats could lose their grip on Congress next year if they fail to make government insurance available to all Americans. “We reject any bill that doesn’t have — as a minimum — a public option available to all Americans,” said Moore. Moore said that a health-care bill which requires all Americans to buy into the private health insurance system — even one that is newly regulated and subsidized — would be unacceptable. “If it’s just this mandated health insurance . . . we reject that out of hand,” said Moore. Moore, who was in the nation’s capital for a screening of his new movie, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” argued that President Obama blundered on health-care reform by not beginning the debate by pushing the kind of single-payer, Medicare for all, health-care system that the Illinois Democrat favored at one point while running for the U.S. Senate in 2003. Under a single-payer system, the government is the sole insurer. Obama has said that a single-payer health care system would be preferable if the United States were starting from scratch. But given that most Americans currently receive health-care coverage from private health insurance companies, Obama dropped his support for a single-payer health care system before the start of his presidential campaign and has instead called for creating a government-health care plan which would supplement – rather than supplant – private insurance. Moore thinks it was a mistake for the president to begin the health-care debate with a proposal which already represented a compromise from where he started in 2003. “The reason that you’re all alone out there is that you started with a compromise,” said Moore. Even though Obama has struggled to get conservative Senate Democrats behind a government health-care plan which would merely be optional, Moore made it clear that he would like the president to start over and to get behind the single-payer proposals by Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt. “You need to hit the reset button and go back to the drawing board,” said Moore. If replacing the private health insurance industry with Medicare for all Americans is not a possibility, Moore said Democrats should — at a minimum — get behind a public health insurance option which would be open to all Americans. The bills which have made it through three committees in the House and one committee in the Senate all contain public options; none of them, however, would make the public option open to all Americans initially. Americans who work for medium and large businesses would, at least initially, be excluded. Congressional Democrats limited the public option to small businesses and the self employed in order to tamp down concerns from Republicans and the insurance industry that so many Americans would choose its below-market rates that private insurance companies would fold, forcing those Americans currently in the private system to have to change their plan. “Don’t take our votes for granted,” said Moore. “If you think we’re just going to go along with you just because you’re Democrats, think again.”

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