Launching a Public Debate on Health Care Amid Bush's Iraq Escalation

We've been working for months to pull together today's press conference launching an important new plan for "Health Care for America," written by Yale professor Jacob Hacker. The voters made it clear in last year's elections that they wanted solutions to big domestic economic problems -- like the health care crisis. Even California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger heard the message and this week rolled out a health care plan for people in his state - a sellout to the insurance companies, to be sure, but at least he felt he needed for a health plan that sounded as bold and comprehensive as the very progressive plan passed by Democrats in the California legislature.

But unlike the Governator, President George W. Bush last night proved that he hadn't heard anything the voters were practically screaming at him in November. Instead of concentrating on bread-and-butter economic issues and getting out of Iraq, Bush told the nation that he was plunging 20,000 more young Americans into the middle of the deadly Iraq civil war between Shiites and Sunnis.

This morning I'm heading to the press conference sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute to launch their "Agenda for Shared Prosperity" project designed to get Americans talking about "big new policy ideas" - like Jeff Faux's paper on dealing with globalization - and Hacker's "Health Care for America" plan, which we at the Campaign for America's Future helped him develop and refine. After months of preparation, my goal: to put the Hacker plan on the national discussion table for a year of grass roots debate. And then Bush chose Wednesday night to escalate the war.

So this afternoon, at 12:30 Eastern, I'm helping to lead another press conference - to launch the new Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, a coalition of many of the groups that have been working hard to help pass the House Dems' "First 100 Days Agenda" that we call a "down-payment" on more fundamental economic change. We also mobilized public opinion to defeat Bush on his number one domestic priority -- his Social Security privatization plan - effectively making him a "lame duck." But we've just discovered that a "lame duck" can be extremely dangerous - to our political system, to our men and women in uniform, and to our movement for a progressive health care system. So, while I would much rather be reaching out to grass roots activists to encourage them to start doing public forums about Jacob Hacker's health care plan, I'm going to work to fan a new firestorm of protest around the country - and working to channel that outrage into effective pressure on Senators and Members of Congress and our dangerous lame duck President.