Four brave senators defied the stale DC conventional wisdom that tells Democrats to be weak -- and instead called on Majority Leader Harry Reid to pass the public health insurance option through "reconciliation," which only needs a simple majority in the Senate.
These heroes are Mike Bennet (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkeley (D-OR), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Their heroism has made big waves in DC and online today with coverage by ABC, CBS, Politico, The Hill, Huffington Post, TPM, Salon, NY Daily News, OpenLeft, and Daily Kos.
Harry Reid's office already issued a response:
"Senator Reid remains a strong supporter of the public option, but it's always a question of where the votes are," said Reid spokesman Jim Manley in a statement to HuffPost.
So...let's show them where the votes are!
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, and Credo Action have set up a "citizens whip count" where you can call your Democratic senators and ask them to co-sign today's letter. Click here to check it out.
Thousands of calls have already been made -- and already, more senators are hopping aboard the letter. Two major committee chairs just joined. (You can check out the whip count to see who. :)
Mike Bennet deserves special praise for spearheading this letter. You can write him a personal thank-you note that the PCCC will deliver to him personally by clicking here. And if you're from CO, NY, OH, or OR, you can call your senator and thank them for their leadership here.
Here is an excerpt from today's letter:
Dear Leader Reid:
There are four fundamental reasons why we support this approach – its potential for billions of dollars in cost savings; the growing need to increase competition and lower costs for the consumer; the history of using reconciliation for significant pieces of health care legislation; and the continued public support for a public option.
...There is substantial Senate precedent for using reconciliation to enact important health care policies. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare Advantage, and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), which actually contains the term ‘reconciliation’ in its title, were all enacted under reconciliation.
...The overwhelming majority of Americans want a public option. The latest New York Times poll on this issue, in December, shows that despite the attacks of recent months Americans support the public option 59% to 29%. Support includes 80% of Democrats, 59% of Independents, and even 33% of Republicans.
Bravo! Again, you can write a thank you note for this leadership here.
And if you have a Democratic senator, remember what Reid's office said: It's all about "where the votes are."