Organizing For America, Tea Party — March 14, 2013 at 6:51 am

Opportunity missed: Michigan Democrats cede fight over Obamacare health insurance exchanges to the tea party


How bad do we want this, folks?

Despite support for creating a public health insurance exchange in Michigan under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) from Democrats, some Republicans and even Governor Rick Snyder, it’s looking more and more like it won’t happen in Michigan. Why? Because tea party groups across the state are out-hustling and out-organizing progressive groups that could be making a difference.

On Tuesday MIRS news service quoted sources in the state senate who say there aren “not even close” to enough votes to pass legislation that will create the exchanges and cite a deluge of calls from tea party and other conservative groups that have flooded the phone lines of lawmakers for the past several weeks.

Meanwhile, what are progressive groups and our own Democratic caucus members doing to engage their constituents on this issue across the state?

One word: nothing.

We as a party have talked a LOT lately about using issued-based organizing to get Democrats organized around the state in preparation for 2014. It was this very same issue, in fact, that Organizing for America (OFA) used as an organizing tool during the fight to pass the Affordable Care Act. And now that we have it as the Supreme Court-verified law of the land, Democrats (and OFA, I might add) are dropping the ball.

It’s an opportunity to rally Democrats across the state and get them engaged. The Democratic caucus, the Michigan Democratic Party, OFA and any other progressive group in Michigan that cares about the implementation of this exchange have a ripe opportunity to organize around this issue. Instead, they are abdicating the fight to the tea party. The only groups fighting FOR it appear to be the hospitals and, if an email I received from the Tea Party of West Michigan titled “If you belong to the Grand Rapids or Michigan Chambers…” is accurate, chambers of commerce across the state:

If you belong to the Grand Rapids or Michigan Chambers…
…and you are against ObamaCare, you just might want to call them and cancel your membership!!! They are really turning up the pressure on our Michigan Senate. We were hearing today in several publications that there was no way there were enough votes in the Senate for the Exchange to pass. However late breaking tonight we are hearing that the chambers have really turned up the heat and have actually been successful in pulling a couple senators to their side. So, I know we’re all tired of calling but we must keep it up because what we are doing is working. Only problem is the Chambers are now having some success. It’s a tug-o-war now. We need to let our Senators know they will not get by with voting for this a second time against Michigan Citizens!

****EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY,**** call your Senator and then all the other Senators in Michigan and ask them to hold tough against the pressure coming from the Chambers to win them over to selling us into a socialist utopia called ObamaCare. We all know it will not be what is promised.

I cannot promise and [sic] end in sight. I do know that they wanted it in March in Michigan. I’m not sure we’ll ever be safe from the threat until ObamaCare is dead and buried. If we can keep it off the books here along with the other states in this fight with us, I believe we can starve the beast to death! Anything is worth it to stop this socialistic move to take 1/6th of our economy into Federal Government control!

This is, or perhaps WAS, a missed opportunity for Michigan Democrats including the Michigan Democratic Party. This sort of issue-based organizing is OUR forte. We knock doors. We organize phone banks and make calls. WE have the grassroots networks in place all around Michigan that can pull this off yet we are standing here with our thumbs up our bums doing nothing and missing this prime opportunity.

I truly hope we don’t miss many more.

One silver lining, perhaps, is that if the tea partiers DO succeed in killing the state-run health insurance exchanges in Michigan and in other states, the federal government will set one up on their behalf. If they pull it off and are successful, this is one more solid step toward a national single-payer health care system, a move that would lower everybody’s health care costs and help us to join the ranks of countries that spend less and deliver better health care to their citizens.

[Photo credit: Chris Savage | Eclectablog]