Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 235

The Progressive Democrat got some major readership during the election. Not sure how much of an effect it had, but certainly in some of the smaller races where I cover Progressive Majority candidates I think I make a bit of a difference.

Progressive candidates did very well in Washington State and Minnesota. Not so well in Pennsylvania or Colorado. Virginia and New Jersey governorships switch to Republican. NYC continues to be dominated by political machines and developer money. I would say that the elections were NOT a referendum on Obama, who remains very popular everywhere but the South. Rather it is a referendum on the Democratic Party which has been tending to do what it always does--water down its message until it no longer seems to stand for anything. This always happens for good, logical reasons. But people don't vote for good, logical reasons. They vote for a strong message that they feel attracted to and the Democratic Party is not delivering that right now. Obama often is, but the party as a whole is not. That is what is happening.

There's more...

Markos Crushes Tom Tancredo on MSNBC

We're still waiting for the video to be clipped, but folks watching MSNBC earlier this hour saw what will undoubtedly be an instant Youtube classic: Markos hitting Tom Tancredo so hard in response to Tancredo's attacks on the Veterans Affairs department that Tancredo scampered off set. Here's what Markos had to say that set Tancredo into flight:

"Tom, I'm a veteran. I did not get a deferment because I was too depressed to fight in... Vietnam."

The video...

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Owens Affirms Support for Healthcare Reform Bill

Though the right wing blogs have tried to write an apocryphal history of the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district, the fact is that Democrat Bill Owens ran on a platform that included support for healthcare reform and won. Now Owens, freshly sworn in as a United States Congressman, is reiterating his support for healthcare reform.

Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) can be counted on as a "yes" in this weekend's expected vote on the House Democrats' health care bill, announcing his support in a press release.

"This legislation will reform the insurance industry and provide increased access to affordable healthcare without taxing healthcare benefits, cutting Medicare benefits or raising taxes on the middle class, and that is exactly the direction we need to go," said Owens. "There are still changes I would like to make, including raising the payroll exemption for small businesses, but like I said last week, there is a fundamental need for reform and we must act with a sense of urgency."

With Owens' support, as well as that of California's new Congressman John Garamendi (whose office confirmed to me this afternoon his intention to vote in favor of healthcare reform), Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now two votes closer to the 218 required to get H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, through the House and on to the Senate. Still waiting to hear, though, whether Michael Barone or anyone else is willing to take me up on my bet that Pelosi will get her 218...

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Americans to Congress: Keep Working on Healthcare

Some in Congress seem to be suggesting that healthcare reform should be scrapped, or seriously curtailed, do to the poor state of the economy and the jobs market. The American people disagree.

Nearly six in ten Americans want Congress to continue working on health care reform bills that have been passed through various committees, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-nine percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey say lawmakers should continue working on the legislation, a rise of 6 points since August. But only a quarter say those bills should be passed pretty much as is, with a third suggesting that Congress should make major changes. The poll also indicates that one in four say lawmakers should start from scratch and 15 percent want Congress to stop all work on health care reform.

The CNN poll also finds that a majority of Americans, 55 percent, support the public option.

Coming in the wake of an election day that can be read as hostile to the current Democratic agenda (even as Democrats swept the two races actually involving the Democratic agenda on Capitol hill, including one in a congressional district much of which has not sent a Democrat to Congress in more than 150 years) and on the eve of the historic House vote on healthcare reform, these numbers could strengthen the hands of those whipping for 218 in the Democratic leadership. Certainly little in these numbers would lead me to want to renege on my offer to wager on the results of this weekend's healthcare vote in the House (the benefits of which would go to charity). But we'll have to wait and see.

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CBO: GOP Health Bill Wouldn't Increase % Covered

Not a huge surprise, but the Republicans' healthcare amendment would do literally nothing to decrease the percentage of Americans without coverage, per the CBO (.pdf):

By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 3 million relative to current law, leaving about 52 million nonelderly residents uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, roughly in line with the current share. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the amendment's insurance coverage provisions would increase deficits by $8 billion over the 2010-2019 period. [emphasis added]

I suppose the Republicans might try to argue that their proposal succeeds at stemming the growth in the uninsured, so to that extent at least their proposal doesn't do nothing. But it doesn't do much more than nothing.

According to polling from Bloomberg news, 61 percent of Americans believe it to be "critically important" to "[f]ind a way for those who are currently uninsured to get health insurance coverage," a goal just 8 percent believe to be not that important or a bad idea.

If the Republicans believe it to be good politics to line themselves up with the minority of Americans disfavoring efforts to decrease the proportion of uninsured in this country, then by golly they've struck gold. But if they were hoping to present some sort of alternative to the Democrats' efforts at healthcare reform, something that anyone -- whether Beltway pundits or voters around the nation -- could have taken at least somewhat seriously, they have more or less failed.

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