POLITICS

March 16 Tea Party Protests In Washington: The Final Anti-Health Care March

Tea Party activists "will storm Capitol Hill this morning, spending the day rallying and protesting against President Obama's health-care bill and demanding meetings with targeted members."

But on the eve of its final coordinated push to kill health care reform, one of the Tea Party movement's key leaders and funders -- former Republican leader and lobbyist Dick Armey, head of the group FreedomWorks -- said the battle was likely lost.

At a press conference on Monday, Armey acknowledged that Democrats "will most likely pass health care reform legislation that has been debated for the last year and is expected to come to a vote this week."

"They'll probably force this through," he said. "But you can't discount the number of people who can be moved by a ruthless and powerful political leader or group of political leaders."

The FreedomWorks chairman also had harsh word for the rest of Congress - the "self-serving" people he suggests are equally to blame for the passage of health care legislation.

"The average member Congress - House and Senate - is first and foremost only a self-serving inconvenience-minimizer who doesn't have a lot of principle they stand on the first place," he said. "It doesn't take much to move a jellied spine, so they'll probably get their votes."

Freshman and sophomore Democratic members of Congress and their staff were prepped for the Tea Partiers by an email memo sent out late Monday afternoon, first printed by Greg Sargent's 'The Plum Line'.

Here's a taste of the document:

As many of you have read, tomorrow, Tuesday, March 16, 2010, tens of thousands of conservative and Tea Party activists will be on the Hill as part of what they are dubbing a "Surge Against Obamacare." Rick Scott, a multimillionaire investor and former hospital executive, is helping to lead the grassroots effort along with a number of other groups on the right like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks. While many of you have met with outspoken activists in your districts in the past, we wanted to remind you of some of the best practices to review with your DC staff:

1. Be prepared. Activists are expected to begin arriving around 9am and they have been given instructions to wait in your office until they can have a meeting. Please have an orderly process and enough staff and interns to welcome what could be a very large number of visitors throughout the day:

· Have staff and/or Member time set-aside to visit with attendees in small groups;

· Ask for extra chairs or seating to be brought to your office or the hall in case there are seniors or disabled visitors that need to be accommodated;

· Consider having some light snacks, H2O, and coffee available;

· Ask visitors to leave all signs and banners outside the office.

[...]

3. Listen and communicate in small groups:

· As we learned in August, small groups are typically the best venue for exchanges on this complicated topic.

· Many of the conservative activists are not opposing the actual provisions in the bill, but are instead reacting to a caricature of the reform bill presented by right-wing media outlets. In fact, many conservative and GOP ideas and concerns are addressed in the legislation:

· Reduces the deficit;

· Cracks down on Medicare waste, fraud, and abuse;

· Provides historic tax credit for small businesses and individuals to purchase health insurance;

· Allows consumers to shop for health insurance across state lines via multi-state compacts;

· Inaugurates medical malpractice reforms, (an area where the GOP failed to take any action when in charge of Congress for 12 years).

· Also, don't assume common myths about this bill have been debunked. Be prepared to explain that there are no death panels, that Medicare is in fact strengthened, and that reform is not a government take-over, but it is an attempt to crack down on the abusive practices of health insurance companies by providing oversight and increasing competition.