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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

 1:27 PM 

Liberal group pressures Feingold on health care in TV ad

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold has come under fire from the liberal activist group Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which this week launched a $20,000 television ad campaign that takes the Middleton Democrat to task on health care reform.

In a 30-second spot set to air on broadcast television in the Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee markets, PCCC urges Feingold to vote against any final health care bill that does not include a public insurance option. Feingold last week voted for a Senate bill that does not include a public insurance option despite the fact that he is a strong proponent of the proposal.

The ad, scheduled to run through New Year's weekend, features video clips of President Barack Obama explaining his support for the public insurance option. Upon the conclusion of the ad, the following written recommendation flashes on the TV screen: "Tell Russ Feingold: A bill without a public option is not change we can believe in."

The Senate passed its $871 billion health care reform bill Christmas Eve morning on a party-line vote. All Republicans opposed the measure, while all 58 Democrats -- including Feingold and Sen. Herb Kohl of Milwaukee -- as well as two Independents who caucus with the Senate majority, voted yes.

That bill must now be reconciled with a $1.2 trillion House package that does include the public insurance option, and liberal activists like the PCCC are pushing Democrats like Feingold to demand that the public option survive the final bill. Negotiations to meld the House and Senate bills are set to begin in January.

A statement released by PCCC spokesman Adam Green reads as follows:

"The congratulations that Democrats are giving themselves in Washington DC are not shared by voters across the country who overwhelmingly want a public option and oppose being required to buy insurance from companies that put profit ahead of people's health. Russ Feingold can be a hero at this historic moment by declaring that any final bill must have a public option to win his support. That would change the entire calculus in House-Senate negotiations and force President Obama to finally fight back against Joe Lieberman's threats -- something Russ Feingold himself has said the White House has failed to do."

Lieberman, an Independent senator from Connecticut, has vowed to filibuster any bill that includes a public insurance option of any kind.

-David M. Drucker


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