Earlier today, I wondered whether Sen. Sherrod Brown's mention of working through August and Nancy Pelosi's promise to do the same meant the Democrats were going to try playing the vacation card against the Republicans. It's a great political tool: if your opponents want to delay something (health care, in this instance) until after recess, express your willingness to work through vacation and paint your opponents as lazy. Congressional majorities do it all the time. If that really is the Dems' new strategy, Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake is helping to set them up:
The Republicans, the Blue Dogs and Joe Lieberman want to stall passing a health care bill, because they know that if members go back to their districts in August it gives the health insurance lobby a chance to hammer them with millions in advertising. There's one word for that: unacceptable. The House should keep working until they pass a health reform bill - health care is more important than vacation.
FDL has a petition asking the House to stay in session to pass health reform. They've also put together some facts about what three weeks without health care means for Americans:
- 143,250 people will lose their health insurance coverage
- 53,507 people will file for bankruptcy because they can't pay their medical bills
- 1,265 people will die because they lack coverage
Of course, even if a health care bill is passed, many of the most important reforms won't take affect for years. But talking about the costs of inaction is still important, because they're real. Not passing a health care bill doesn't mean things will stay the same. It means things will get worse. That's probably what President Obama is going to focus on in his press conference tonight: convincing Americans that the status quo is unacceptable. If he can convince Americans that reform has to happen now, he'll have half the battle won. Then he'll just have to convince people that his reforms are the right ones.