SEIU’s Anna Burger: Democrats Need to ‘Step Up’ on Health Care — but Public Option Not Critical Part of Bill

Feb 23, 2010 3:00pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Democrats and some of their staunchest allies are newly optimistic about the prospects of health care reform being signed into law, with President Obama’s release of his favored framework in advance of Thursday’s bipartisan health care summit. But few are expecting major breakthroughs on Thursday. And fewer still are urging patience. “The American people don’t want bipartisanship just for the sake of bipartisanship; they want action,” Anna Burger, the secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today. “They want real action. They’ve been working on it for a year — it’s time to get this done. If the Republicans want to step up on Thursday with real proposals, they should put them online right now so that the American people can see them, so that we can all talk about them.” She added: “Getting nothing done is not a solution. We need action — that’s what the American people want. They want action, and it’s time for the Democrats — if that’s what it takes — to step up and vote and get this done.” We put the procedural question out to the Twitterverse today as our “Top Line” question of the day: Should Democrats use the budget process to pass something with a bare majority, instead of the customary 60 votes, in the Senate? And should that something include a public option that would compete with private insurers? Wrote @jdhowens: “Yes to both reconciliation and the public option. Since when has the will of the majority been insufficiently democratic?” Countered @brianjburgess: “Yes, Dems should use reconciliation, but only if their goal is to shoot themselves in the foot and cede control to GOP.” Burger and her union have been outspoken in support of the public option. But with the president’s framework — like the Senate-passed bill — not including one, she told us today that it’s not vital. “We’ve always thought a public option was a strong option,” she said. “We thought that was an incredibly important thing. To be perfectly honest, I think that the president’s plan is a very solid plan. It takes the Senate plan and it modifies it to really improve it. Does it get it all the way there? No. but it gives us a framework for really being able to do that.” She added: “If we could get a public option through reconciliation, hey, I’d say I’ll go for it.  On the other hand, the president’s plan is a very solid plan that deals with all of the issues that we wanted to be addressed. And we think it’s a great step forward.” Watch the “Top Line” segment with Anna Burger HERE.

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