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Why We Were Arrested at the Senate Finance Committee Hearings

Yesterday morning, eight doctors, lawyers and other activists stood up for single payer health care. We stood up during a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. The hearing was only to hear from the insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, HMO’s and business interests. They did not want to hear about a real national health care plan.

I was one of the eight.

We stood up to the private health insurance industry, to the corporate power in Congress and demanded a single payer national health care plan where everybody is in and nobody is out. We want a plan that ensures the peoples right to choose their own doctor, hospital and health care treatment. We want a plan that will control costs – something that cannot be done unless the insurance industry, HMO’s and pharmaceutical companies are challenged.

The Senate Finance Committee which has taken millions from the insurance industry, HMO’s, pharmaceutical industry – those that profit from health care in America only scheduled their donors to speak. It was pay to play on display in Washington, DC before the corrupt Senate Finance Committee.

We stood up and told the truth. The Emperor Has No Clothes we said. We were arrested and charged with “disruption of Congress” a euphemism for telling the truth in Congress.

You can see the C-SPAN and other video on our new website ProsperityAgenda.US. You can see the news reports from The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Politico, Democracy Now and National Public Radio which all carried stories about the protest. Prosperity Agenda is an economic justice project of the Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics. You can help us develop an economy for all, including a health care system for all, by participating – share your comments, ideas and strategies. Join our effort.

Chairman Baucus, invited his major donors to the table: the health insurance industry was there, so were the Chamber of Commerce, the right wing Heritage Foundation, the Business Roundtable, Blue Cross Blue Shield and corporate liberals who have sold out the people like Andy Stern, Ron Pollack and AARP.

But the most popular and efficient health care reform was not at the table. It was not mentioned even though it is the one favored by a majority of doctors, nurses, economists and the American people. Only those who paid to play were included.

For the last few weeks people have been calling and emailing Senator Baucus and other Finance Committee members urging them to include single payer advocates. We were told – no, no one for single payer would be allowed to speak.

So, yesterday, at 10 a.m., the Baucus Eight, led by Prosperity Agenda and other single payer advocates, took to the Senate Finance Committee. We confronted the committee in front of a room filled with their campaign donors, in front of the American people watching live on C-SPAN and we told the truth. Three doctors joined us, spoke up and got arrested. The effort was endorsed by Physicians for a National Health Program – doctors are standing up for their patients saying “single payer now.”

I focused on corporate corruption of the senate and told the senators we need them to put the necessities of the people before the profits of their donors. We do not need a pay to play Blogojevich committee with a Blogojevich Chairman putting on phony hearings to fool the public.

Last week Senator Richard Durbin said the banks “own” the Congress. This week it is evident, that when it comes to health care the health care profiteers own Congress, especially the Senate Finance Committee. If we do not put forward organized, aggressive, grass roots action we will see a swindle of the American people. In the name of false health care reform billions in tax payer dollars will go to campaign donors and the health care problem will continue to worsen.

It is time for concerted action.

We have the power to ensure health care for all in a national single payer health care program that ends the corruption of the health insurance industry, the HMO’s and the pharmaceutical industry.

We can do it . . . together.

Let’s make it happen.

KEVIN ZEESE is the Executive Director of Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics whose Prosperity Agenda Project is advocating for an economy for all, including health care for all.

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Kevin Zeese is an organizer at Popular Resistance.

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