Thursday, January 19, 2012


Note to Readers: Health care advocate Richard Kirsch's book, FIGHTING FOR OUR HEALTH is not out officially until February 1st, but the blogs are already abuzz with some of what he's written. It turns out that one of President Obama's key aides, Jim Messina (Former Deputy Chief of Staff, he's now running the Prez' re-election campaign) tried to get Kirsch fired in 2009, because he feared that Kirsch was pushing too hard from the left for health care reform. It's a fascinating tale, and it's just one chapter in the book. TALKING POINTS MEMO RAN THIS AS A BANNER HEADLINE YESTERDAY:

Key Reform Ally Dishes On ‘Weak-Kneed’ White House Health Care Push

"In an encyclopedic new book that sheds fresh light on the defining fight of President Obama’s first term, one of the administration’s key health care reform allies recalls a thin-skinned, “weak-kneed” White House, strategically unwilling and temperamentally unable to face criticism from progressive reformers, whose toughest tactics were reserved for its natural allies.

Many of the revelations will be unsurprising to those who followed the year-long fight over health care reform closely. But they serve as a thorough reminder of the administration’s uneven strategy during the debate, including its horsetrading with private industry, and private dealing with supporters on the left — particularly those, like the author, who fought a bruising fight for a public health insurance option and lost.

The book is Fighting For Our Health, by Richard Kirsch, who directed the advocacy group Health Care for America Now during the push for reform. HCAN is a well financed umbrella group backed by scores of liberal groups, unions, and other reformers — making Kirsch a close witness to the entire saga. He confirms that the White House treated the public option like a bargaining chip with powerful industry players, and believes that when his group became most critical of the bill mid-way through the fight, that top White House aides sought to have him canned.

“The White House had negotiated a number of deals with the health industry, designed to win their support for reform, including agreeing to oppose a robust public option, which would have the greatest clout to control how much providers got paid,” writes Kirsch, largely confirming what has become an open secret in Washington.

Kirsch’s book is replete with similar stories."

TO READ THE REST OF TALKING POINTS MEMO'S POST, GO TO THE TPM SITE. Other blogs quickly followed suit, among them The Hill and FireDogLake. Kirsch's book is available for pre-order in paperback and for the Kindle on at FIGHTING FOR OUR HEALTH.

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