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Medill News Service

Michael Moore Tells Democrats: 'Find Your Spine' on Health Care

Markham Heid

WASHINGTON - Sans video camera, filmmaker Michael Moore on Tuesday turned his megaphone on the current health care system and those Blue Dog Democrats he claims are "dogging" the health care debate.

Moore, an advocate of a single-payer, government-run health care system, called the current setup "cruel," and said that two-thirds of Americans support a single-payer system and would punish those Democrats who steer the conversation away from that option.

"To the Democrats in Congress," Moore said, "find your spine. Read the polls. And see us coming."

The contentious documentarian spoke at the Washington offices of Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer advocacy group. Moore has a new film called "Capitalism: A Love Story" slated for release Friday, and says he's using the media attention to push for single-payer health care.

When asked why the single-payer option hasn't won much support in the health care debate in Washington, Moore said Democrats "haven't felt the heat."

Moore also criticized liberal voters, who he said lacked the motivation of Republicans and "wouldn't get up at 6 a.m." like their conservative counterparts.

"There's a lot of anger out there that's simmering beneath the surface," said Moore, adding that the Democrats haven't tapped that fury.

Echoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower's famous words regarding associations between the military and private business, Moore took aim at what he called the "Health Care Industrial Complex."

The filmmaker also applauded President Barack Obama on several fronts, but said the president needs to "hit the reset button, and go back to the drawing board" with the health care debate.

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee rejected the "public option" for revamping the nation's health care. The public option would have created a government run insurance company to offer low-cost health insurance coverage to those who could not afford private plans.

The vote, in which five Democrats joined all 10 of the panel's Republicans, is a rejection of one of Obama's central proposals for improving coverage for millions of Americans without health insurance.

During the entire congressional debate over healthcare, no legislation to create a government-run health system like those in other developed nations has garnered significant support.

Moore's other well-known movies include: "Roger and Me," about General Motors chairman and chief executive Roger Smith; "Bowling for Columbine," about gun violence following the mass killings at a Colorado high school, and "Fahrenheit 9/11," about America after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

(The Medill News Service is a Washington program of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Heid, a graduate student in journalism from Ann Arbor, Mich., covers health care policy.)

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