I’ve seen a few calls around the local blogosphere (more precisely the local Facebook and Twitter community) for Missourians to swarm Senator Claire McCaskill’s office with messages in support of a public health insurance option in the heath care reform bill that Congress will hopefully pass this year.
I thought this was rather odd, since McCaskill already declared her support for a robust public health plan a month ago. Now, as the posts I saw said, McCaskill is a Senate chair for the wankerific centrist group Third Way, and they did just propose restrictions on the public option that would basically kneecap it before it even started. (McJoan has a good summary here.) Still, I thought that McCaskill signed that very public letter only a month ago, after extensive discussions with constituents on the issue of health care. So just because a group that she’s loosely affiliated with makes a statement, it doesn’t necessarily negate her own public position.
But then again, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), signatory to the same letter in favor of a public option and like McCaskill also an honorary Senate chair of Third Way, just did an about face and declared without explanation her opposition to a public option. That makes me really nervous, especially in the face of McCaskill’s backsliding on things like FISA and Iraq. Still, I don’t really favor asking people to call up McCaskill to express their outrage over Third Way, because at the end of the day, you’re talking to a Senate staffer. You’ll be asking them to pass the message along to Senator McCaskill that she should try to persuade Third Way to change their tune on health care. That’s like trying to bank a shot in pool rather than shooting straight for the corner pocket. A far better use of her time (and ours) would be for her to directly work on the legislation at hand and exert a positive influence.
So if you want to help make sure McCaskill exerts that positive influence, call up Senator McCaskill’s DC office at (202) 224-6154 or e-mail her here. Express your thanks for her support of a robust public health care option, and ask her to remain firm against language that would sabotage a public option from the outset. If you’re outraged by attacks on health care reform by centrist faux-Democratic “think tanks”, you can work with Adam Green to defund Third Way.
UPDATE: I just Google searched Claire McCaskill public option, and this was the first hit:
I support public option for health care reform. I want people to have a choice between public and private. 10:46 PM May 14th from web
It would be kind of hard to walk something like that back.