Jewish groups doing health care reform fadeout?

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

As Congress gets back to work on Democratic health care reform proposals that were savaged during the August congressional recess and President Obama takes to the airwaves tonight in an attempt to use his oratorical skills to revive the sinking initiative, I keep getting reports that  major Jewish organizations that were involved in the health care fight are getting a case of cold feet –  with the chill coming from big givers who side with the opposition.


As far as I can tell, only the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism wants to be out front as Congress returns to tackle the health care issue. I’m hearing less and less from other groups that were on the health care playing field a few months ago, including United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.


The shift is reminiscent of the issue of Bush era tax cuts – when many rank-and-file members of Jewish groups worried about the impact of big cuts on social and health care programs, but big givers put the kibosh on public activism.


On the other hand, there’s no hard date suggesting that American Jews want sweeping “health insurance reform,” as the administration now calls it. Nor is there any data that they oppose it, but you can see why big groups are getting a little nervous as the issue becomes more of a political minefield.


Meanwhile, the Washington Post carried an interesting story today on how the Democratic health care reform proposals, and in particular President Barack Obama’s strong advocacy, have reenergized a Christian right that some pundits proclaimed in retreat after last November’s elections.


“As the president prepares to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night to press for health-care reform, conservative Christian leaders are rallying their troops to oppose him, with online town hall meetings, church gatherings, fundraising appeals, and e-mail and social networking campaigns,” the Post notes.


Check it out here.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.