Taking a Punch

P1010020Washington I’ve often told this story.  It’s about a big, rookie mistake I made as a green organizer of 20 years old trying to figure out how to be head organizer of Massachusetts Welfare Rights when total craziness broke out between two contending groups of leadership.  Because of some idealistically pure view of staff and leadership roles I had at the time, I sought to keep the “staff out of the middle” of the dispute by closing the office for a couple of days until everything calmed down.  Maybe a good idea, maybe a bad one, but it turned out to make everyone even madder, because they didn’t have me available to yell out for better or worse.  In retrospect I learned that I should have closed the office perhaps, but sat in a chair outside and waited until leaders showed up, and then taken whatever yells and shouts they had to offer until a plan was made moving forward.  They needed someone to take the punch, and I was too young to understand that was part of my job and came with being an organizer, and that it was political and not personal.

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Getting Leveraged on Heath Care

braveman Washington Everywhere I go in Washington, just like the rest of the country, but more intensely, the discussion is about health care reform and whether there’s any chance of pulling through anything at this point that would really be reform.  Disturbingly, it seems the White House and the Congressional leadership is getting leveraged by narrow interests and having difficulty focusing on the meat and merits of reform.

A promise to Senator Baucus around revenue has led to a taxing problem on so-called “Cadillac” benefits, but voices from Rich Trumka at the AFL-CIO and many others are point out that the tax would go to fairly thin programs including a lot of plans that are part of collective bargaining agreements.

There now seems a cadre of folks in the House and a smaller number in the Senate who are trying to hijack the bill based on stripping out abortion and taking a promise from the President as part of the license to do so.  Are we now throwing women under the bus as well?

The Times reported that some states, led by Arizona, are trying to act unilaterally to say that the state could “veto” an “individual mandate” that might come with a federal package.

The tactics seem to be overwhelming the strategy.  This is not a debate but a dog pile it seems.  Where’s the adult supervision?


My “friends” on the right seem to be using me as a source for an attack at yet another new target:  Patrick Gaspard, political director at the White House.

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