Which House Democrats Opposed Health Reform, Clean Energy, Tobacco Regulation, and the Stimulus All?

I can understand Democrats who don't support the stimulus.  I can understand Democrats who don't support health care reform or the public option. I can even understand Democrats who don't support clean energy legislation. I cannot abide Democrats who oppose all three. I am not a purist and do not appreciate ideological litmus tests, but a politician must have at least some reason for belonging to their party and movement of choice if that label is to mean anything at all to their constituents.  

Earlier today, Jerome posted a list of the 39 Democrats who voted against the Affordable Health Care for America Act last night. I've compared the roll calls, and 24 of those Democrats also voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act in June. Five of those 24 represent districts won by President Obama last November. Additionally, four of the 24 voted no on the final stimulus vote in January and four opposed April's overhaul of tobacco regulations. Only one man voted against all four pieces of legislation: freshman Rep. Bobby Bright (AL-2), whose district went to McCain by 26%. The full breakdown is below the jump.

We can't expect our Democratic majorities to vote in lock-step on every vote. Moderate Americans need a home, and with the Republican Party having abandoned its conservative-moderate coalition over the past two decades in order to become a more "pure" party of the fringe, we Democrats find more of those moderates joining our own party. These Americans need to have a voice in Congress too, and their Congresspersons need to be able to vote their own conscience. If not all Democratic voters are progressives, than we must expect and accept that not all of the Democrats they elect will be progressives, either.

Blue Dogs and other moderates should be expected and welcomed - but only to a point. They may not be progressives, but they are Democrats, and we have to ask them: as a moderate not fully represented by either party, why have you chosen to join ours? If they can't articulate a sincere reason, then we have a problem. If they vote against some of the party's major initiatives, fine, but if they vote against all of the party's major initiatives, then we have a problem. If nothing unites one member to the next, then what's the point in calling them a party?

People need to listen to their consciences. If your conscience tells you to vote against your party on a particular issue, then by all means, do so. But your conscience should also tell you to join the party with which you agree a majority of the time, or to not join a party at all.

Below the fold, the full list of 24, with special attention to three names: Charlie Melancon, Walt Minnick, and Dennis Kucinich. Minnick, in fact, was the prompt for this entire post. He is my Congressman, but while I was excited for his election in 2008, his twin nay votes on health insurance reform and cap-and-trade mean I will not support him again. As things stand, he's no different than a Republican. Again, I'm not a litmus test kind of guy and even hold some conservative positions myself, but Minnick takes things too far. If he reverses his post-conference vote on just one of those two bills then I will probably change my mind, but he hasn't given me any reason to hold my breath.

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The Majority versus the "Majority Makers"

The Hill is reporting that the Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi is expected to unveil a health overhaul bill tomorrow, Thursday, that includes the public health insurance option favored by the party's centrists, the so-called Blue Dogs, and not the Medicare-plus-5 percent public option being pushed by the House's progressive caucus.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) will introduce a plan similar to what a group of Blue Dog Democrats negotiated in July to get a healthcare bill out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The proposal calls for the officials who run the public plan to negotiate rates individually with physicians and hospitals.

"It looks like that's what it will be," Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) said Wednesday night after leaving a meeting where leaders laid out the bill to those Democrats in their second term in Congress. Pelosi calls them the "majority makers" because their election gave Democrats control of the House.

Pelosi has made it clear she personally supports the so-called "robust" public option that is tied to Medicare-based payment rates, as does a solid majority of the 256 House Democrats. But it has become apparent in recent days that such an option doesn't have the 218 votes she needs to pass it with no Republican support.

Liberals have noted that while it's clear their version doesn't have the votes, there hasn't been a full vote count on the centrist compromise. Winning with negotiated rates assumes that House liberals wouldn't dare block President Barack Obama's signature health initiative.

Or will they? That looks increasingly like the million dollar question. "I am not rolling over," said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

"I will insist on a Medicare-plus-5 [percent] amendment on the floor so that the full caucus can vote on it. We are hopeful that the Rules Committee will allow this amendment, which has tremendous public support, to be voted on for the record."

Meanwhile the other co-chair of the Progressive Caucus Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), said: "When we see what the bill says, we'll decide if we can support it."

Woolsey added that while Progressives don't intend to sign off on just anything that's handed to them, "this isn't walk-away time." She called on President Barack Obama to speak up in support of the public plan.

“He’s not saying it loud enough,” she said.

My own take is that we are Democrats for a reason. Part of that reason is that a robust public option that ultimately leads to a single-payer system is in the best interests of the nation. While I am appreciative of the role that the "majority makers" have played in giving the party control of the House, now is not the time to dilute long-held core principles of the Democratic party. This is about who we are as a people.

In this light Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich gets it right. Late on Wednesday Representative Kucinich put out a press release complaining that Democrats were compromising too much and warned that more compromises in the final bill would water the plan down ever more.

Congressman Kucinich noted that the Progressive Caucus has already compromised on single payer by backing a public option, and now we are being asked to compromise the public option with negotiated rates." He goes to warn that "in conference, we will likely be asked to compromise negotiated rates with a trigger. In each and every step of the health care debate, the insurance companies have won. If they get hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxpayer subsidies, they get to raise their premiums, and increase their co pays and deductibles, while the public is forced to pay for private insurance, then the insurance companies win big."

“If this is the best we can do, then it is time to ask ourselves whether the two-party system is truly capable of representing the American people or whether they system has been so compromised by special interests that we can’t even protect the health of our own people,” Kucinich said. “This is a moment of truth for the Democratic Party. Will we stand for the people or the insurance companies?”

Indeed that is the question.

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PETITION: 73,000 Cracking Blue Dog Heads on Healthcare! ACTION!

Wednesday night Rachel Maddow revealed that:

"Two major powerbrokers on the left...are encouraging a Senate strategy in which the leadership would revoke chairmanships and other leadership positions from any Democrat who sides with a Republican filibuster to block a vote on health reform."

"This is cracking heads time in the Democratic Party right now. This is arm-twisting, vote-counting, "are you a real Dem" time for the proponents of health reform."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB3cU95m1 go&feature=player_embedded

Since then, thousands of progressives have signed the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's newpetition to Senate Leader Harry Reid saying:

"Any Democratic senators who support a Republican attempt to block a vote on health care reform should be stripped of their leadership titles. Americans deserve a clean up-or-down vote on health care."

Sign here: http://boldprogressives.org/majorityvote/p-dkos 

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Progressive Whip Count IN, And We Have the Numbers...

We have some major developments on the Hill tonight. The whip count from CPC is complete and was shown to the leadership today. According to the Hill at least 150 House members have signed on to a Medicare tied PO. Of great NOTE -46 DEMS SIGNED A LETTER TO PELOSI STATING THEY WONT SIGN ON TO THE BLUE DOG NEGOTIATED RATE PO. Also, they stated they WILL NOT VOTE FOR A NON MEDICARE PO.

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Pelosi supports health care cost containment over Blue Dog fiscal irresponsibility

To obtain cost containment, the public option needs to have the ability to negotiate pricing. This should be obvious to anyone who claims to be concerned with fiscal responsibility, the debt, the deficit and economic issues in general. The great lie of the Blue Dogs is their claim that they care about fiscal responsibility when clearly they do not give a rat's ass about fiscal issues outside of how they can use such debates to advantage regressive interests.

Indeed, one of my concerns was that the bill coming out of the Waxman committee would harm fiscal responsibility by restraining price negotiation. By so doing, the Blue Dogs showed their true color because price negotiation is one of the ways you would think one would attempt to reduce the cost of any such bill to the American voters.

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