For Immediate Release
Statement of Common Cause President Bob Edgar on President's Planned Address to Congress
WASHINGTON - "President Obama's speech before a joint session of Congress Wednesday
will set the course of the health care package Congress ultimately
passes, and will be an important moment for his entire presidency. We
applaud this administration for taking on the issue, as escalating
health care costs have been a huge national problem for more than a
Public opinion polls consistently show a majority of Americans support
a government program to help citizens pay for their health care.
Majorities also support slowing the rise of health care costs and
bringing more competition to the market. Arrayed against these reforms
are the health care companies themselves, who prefer the current system
and generate millions, even billions of dollars in political donations,
lobbying and public campaigns to keep it.
It is clear that laws that govern campaign fundraising and spending in
this country affect the outcome of landmark reforms like health care.
Legislation pending before Congress – the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA)
– which would create a voluntary system for candidates to run
congressional campaigns on a combination of small donations and limited
public funding, would change the dynamics of this debate, giving more
power to the millions of uninsured, and less to the corporations who
spend big bucks on political contributions and lobbying. This will be
true for every major reform debate Congress will have, from climate
change to defense spending, where the public interests are aligned
against powerful special interests. Simply put, we won't have national
policies in critical areas like health care and climate change that are
truly in the public's interest until we get the special interests out
of the business of paying for our political campaigns.
As the president addresses Congress, the health care industry lobbyists
and corporate donors who have an interest in scuttling the health care
reforms, especially the central feature of a public health insurance
option, will be watching. The millions Americans who cannot afford
health insurance will also be watching."
Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.