Determined to turn back a tide of right-wing propaganda about costs, a negative drumbeat from Republicans and complaints from conservative Democrats, President Obama will use a televised news conference tonight to mobilize the American people in support of a sweeping reform of the U.S. health care system.

As the president prepares to address the nation the insurance industry continues its attacks, focusing with laser beam precision on the government-run public option portion of plans emerging from both the House and the Senate.

“A government-run plan would turn back the clock on efforts to improve the quality and safety of patient care,” said the American Health Insurance Plan, in a statement, yesterday.

“Such a plan will ultimately limit choices and access,” the insurance giant WellPoint said, yesterday, in another statement.

As two House committees passed a joint reform bill and a key Senate committee passed a version that can be reconciled with the House bill late last week Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., exposed just how desperate conservatives and Republicans are to halt the health reform train in its tracks.

“If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him,” DeMint declared. The senator made the ugly remark as he spoke to members of Conservatives for Patient’s Rights, a group that co-sponsored the recent right-wing tea protests.

The president, of course, is countering by pointing out that the health care fight is not about him but about the American people.

DeMint’s desperation, however, arises out of recognition by the right wing that if Obama signs major health care reform into law, reform that includes a public plan for masses of people now priced out of health insurance altogether, he will have achieved what no president before him has been able to achieve.

In the wake of such an accomplishment Republican hopes for any kind of comeback in the 2010 elections go down the toilet.

Republicans have all but announced that they have pinned their hopes on being able to destroy health care reform and on hopes that unemployment figures will continue to rise well into next year.

They are showing that they are prepared to do anything and everything to realize these hopes, up to and including the forging of alliances with the extreme right.

Trying to breathe life back into tactics used during the presidential campaign, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is referring to the president’s plan as “socialist” and has said, “the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and key committee chairmen are part of a cabal.”

Adele Stan, AlterNet’s acting Washington bureau chief, noted in an article yesterday that “it’s a script written during the election by leaders of the far right – by people like Howard Phillips of the U.S. Constitution Party – who hope to scare the American people into believing that Obama is un-American in the literal and figurative sense and that his health-care plan is just a nefarious scheme to remake America’s mighty capitalist system into something foreign and evil.”

She made the point that this particular line of attack against Obama and his health care plan is “designed for those old enough to remember the Cold War, i.e., people old enough to be eligible for an AARP membership card. And older people tend to worry far more about health care than do the young.”

For progressives, of course, the stakes in the health care battle also couldn’t be higher.

Christopher Hayes, writing for The Nation, described a conversation with an immigration reform activist who called health care reform the “front end of the wedge. If we can’t get that through, forget immigration reform.”

“That’s true for pretty much every other item on the left’s agenda. Jim DeMint was speaking the truth,” Hayes wrote. He said the defining feature of the Bush years was “elite failure and oligarchic corruption. If there’s going to be a pivot onto a new path of progress this (health care reform) is it.”

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