Few liberals speak about health care with the credibility of Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union. His organization represents more than two million unionized workers, from janitors to nurses, who care about better health care because it’s an issue that affects them personally. Under Stern’s leadership, they’ve done as much to advance the cause as any single group in America--in part because Stern was obsessed with the issue long before the rest of the country was. And, like a lot of liberals, Stern has grave concerns the Senate’s health care reform bill.
Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, just put out a statement on health care reform. There are few players in the health care debate whose judgment I respect more than his. And he is not happy with what's transpired in the last week. I wonder if the White House understands the very serious problem emerging on its left. Keep in mind that insiders won't be able to dismiss Stern the way they do Howard Dean. Stern is seasoned. He is shrewd. And he has serious clout. I'll have more to say soon.
Everybody who follows health care policy is talking about an article in the latest edition of The Hill: "Dems Hedge on Health Care." The article, written by Manu Raju, has on-the-record quotes from two Democratic Senators--Max Baucus and Jay Rockefeller--seriously lowering expectations for what Congress might be able to accomplish next year, no matter who is in the White House come January 2009. For the last year, momentum for universal health care has been buildilng.
If Democrats win back the House in the midterms today, they'll owe an enormous debt to organized labor, which has spent more than $40 million--and sent millions of voters to the polls--to help the party take control of Congress. The AFL-CIO alone has targeted more than 200 contests in 21 states this cycle, and unions, despite their declining power, are still acting as difference-makers in many races.