Friday, September 18, 2009

Harman on Tape: Pledging No Vote on Health Reform Bill Lacking Public Pledge

Wouldn't it be great if we could manage to talk to our legislators person to person to hear their position on an issue directly?

I've been hoping to get through to Harman to really hear from her what she's actually prepared to do to make a difference in getting the American people the public health option that she has written so strongly in favor of. Since she didn't have any town hall meetings, I didn't get the chance.

My question was pretty basic: Are you pledging to vote against any health care reform bill that lacks a robust public option - both in the House bill any reconciled bill? All my calls get the same thing - she's released no statement.

Thankfully, Mike Stark from Firedoglake's been in DC asking this very question of legislators, and got Harman to answer. He did it two months ago, and I don't know how I missed it.

Starting at about 4:00 she answers the question:
I did make a commitment to vote against a bill that didn't have a strong public option in it. What I'm saying now is I don't have second thoughts about that statement but we're going to get more refinement in the next few days so that that statement will have much more meaning.
That's a pledge in my book - she clearly agrees during the conversation about what strong public option actually is, what they are intended to do - foster real competition and bring prices down, and that co-ops is not part of her definition. And says she's already committed to vote against a bill that doesn't have a strong public option. Whatever refinement she talked about never happened, but wouldn't have changed the dynamic about her committing to vote against a bill w/o the PO.

What this commitment means - to the extent that word has gotten around she's made it - is that it strengthens the hand of those fighting for the public option because it says to Rahm, Steny and friends that progressives and other PO supporters like Jane Harman, will not be rolled this time.