Helping Republicans Destroy Health Care Reform


A group of Blue Dog Democrats in the House are joining forces with Republicans to kill meaningful health care reform:

“We remain opposed to the current bill, and we continue to meet several times a day to decide how we’re going to proceed and what amendments we will be offering as Blue Dogs on the committees,” said Rep. Mike Ross, D-Arkansas.

Ross said the bill unveiled Tuesday by House Democratic leaders did not address concerns he and other conservative Democrats outlined in a letter late last week to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The conservative Democrats don’t believe the legislation contains sufficient reforms to control costs in the health care system and believe additional savings can be found. Their letter to leaders raised concerns about new mandates on small businesses. Blue Dogs also say the bill fails to fix the inequities in the current system for health care costs for rural doctors and hospitals.

The Energy and Commerce committee, along with two other House committees, is scheduled to take up the bill Thursday.

Democrats outnumber Republicans 36-23 on the Energy and Commerce committee, which contains eight Blue Dogs, including Ross. If seven Democrats vote with Republicans against the bill, it would fail to advance to the House floor.

Asked whether the Blue Dogs on Energy and Commerce are considering voting as a group against the bill if it remains unchanged, Ross replied, “absolutely.”

And in the Senate, conservative Democrats are pushing back against Obama’s desired August deadline for voting on a final bill:

A bipartisan group of centrist and conservative senators sent a letter to the Democratic and Republican leaders on Friday urging delay in consideration of health care reform.

The letter, obtained by the Huffington Post, was drafted by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and is also signed by Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.). Independent Joe Lieberman (Conn.), who caucuses with Democrats, signed on, as did Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — moderates heavily courted by President Obama.

The organized effort to slow down the process is a blow to the reform effort. Obama has pushed hard for a final vote before the August recess, arguing that delaying until September could slow momentum and risk missing a historic opportunity.

The letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stresses that while the senators still want health care reform done this year, they don’t feel comfortable voting for it until they’ve had more time to study its costs and benefits.

Mark Kleiman points out that these “centrist” Democrats appear to have forgotten the lessons of 1993:

In 1993, Democratic “centrists” on Capitol Hill helped defeat Hillarycare, believing that their power was unshakable and would be increased by teaching the new President a lesson about who was boss. The Gingrich Revolution was condign punishment for them, though what the rest of us did to deserve it I don’t know.

For Gingrich and his allies, the health care debate wasn’t really about health care: it was about destroying the power of a Democratic President.

It’s not surprising that the Republicans have remembered that lesson, but it’s disappointing that the “centrist” Democrats have forgotten it.

Arguably worse: Maybe they haven’t forgotten it:

It occurs to me, then, that there’s at least a possibility that “centrist” Democrats — Blue Dogs, New Democrats, Lieberman, et al — might not see failure as such a horrible option here. In other words, they may realize that coming up short on health care, letting this opportunity slip away, and hurting millions of Americans in the process may be devastating for the Democratic majority, but these same “centrist” Democrats may prefer a smaller majority, or perhaps even a GOP majority to “balance” the Democratic president. They may very well disagree with the party’s leadership on most issues, and think the best course of action is taking away their power by undermining the party’s agenda.

It seems odd that these “centrist” Democrats would forget the lessons of 1993 and 1994. But alternatively, are we sure they have forgotten those lessons, or have they learned those lessons all too well?

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Explore posts in the same categories: Domestic Issues, Health Care, Politics

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