STERN ADVICE…. Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, is one of the more influential figures in progressive politics, and is one of the nation’s leading champions of health care reform. In light of talk that some congressional Dems are considering a weaker, “scaled-down” health care reform bill — even with a stronger, more effective bill one vote away from passage — Stern is insisting that this isn’t good enough.

SEIU chief Andy Stern took a hard shot at Dem leaders just now for considering a scaled-down health care bill, strongly hinting that labor might not work as hard for Dem candidates in 2010 if they failed to deliver real and comprehensive reform.

“It’s gonna be incredibly difficult to stay focused on national politics if by the end of 2010 we have minimal health care and minimal changes on what’s important to our members,” he said in an interview, ridiculing the emerging Dem approach as “fear masquerading as a strategy.”

Stern unloaded on Dem leaders in response to reports today that they’re mulling either a scaled down bill to win GOPers or a broken up bill passed in pieces. His anger suggests Dems risk paying a big price with labor if they fail to figure out how to pass the Senate bill and fix it later, as labor wants.

Stern concluded, “For the 31 million people who don’t have health care, for the 14,000 who lose it every day, for the 120 people who die every day, they elected this Congress to make change, not to set their sights lower when the going gets tough.”

What I find interesting is the sizable group of progressive champions — allies of the Democratic Party who have no interest in steering Dems in the wrong direction — who are all urging the House to do the right thing, pass the Senate bill, and make improvements through reconciliation. Leading reform advocates, major union leaders, health care policy experts, and the nation’s most influential progressive pundits are all saying the exact same thing, giving Dems the exact same advice.

On the other hand, Republicans and right-wing activist outlets are urging Dems to scrap all the progress they’ve made, give up, start over, and/or pursue a weaker, ineffective bill (which the GOP would end up opposing anyway).

Why on earth would Dems follow the advice of those who want to destroy them?

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.