As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Blue Dogs Go To Work

Mike Ross, apparently the point person for the Blue Dogs on health care, says he has the votes to defeat the bill in the Blue Dog-heavy Energy and Commerce committee, if he doesn't get certain changes.

A leader of the conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats told CNN Wednesday he and other group members may vote to block House Democrats' health care bill from passing a key committee if they don't get some of the changes they want.

"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.

Of course, this is inconsistent. You cannot control costs in the health care system while demanding higher payments to rural doctors and hospitals. I wonder if anyone has pointed that out. The same with the mandates on small businesses. House Democratic leaders actually exempted small businesses from the employer mandate with a higher amount of payroll than what was initially in their discussion draft - up to $250,000. But the Blue Dogs want larger small businesses to be exempted as well. That means less money in the system, because businesses would pay 8% of payroll for each employee if they don't provide health care. So the Blue Dogs want both cost controls, less cost controls, and more targeted health spending. It's not supposed to make any sense.

In addition, freshman Jared Polis is trying to derail the surtax on the wealthy used as a mechanism in the House bill to pay for it.

And Rep. Jared Polis (Colo.), meanwhile, was circulating a draft letter among freshman Democrats to Pelosi opposing the $544 billion income tax surcharge on the wealthy, arguing it would hit many small businesses and manufacturers.

“Especially in a recession, we need to make sure not to kill the goose that will lay the golden eggs of our recovery,” Polis wrote. “By concentrating the cost of health care reform in one area, and in one that will negatively affect small businesses, we are concerned that this will discourage entrepreneurial activity and job growth.”

That objection was gaining steam Wednesday among freshmen and others from wealthy suburban districts, as business groups stepped up their attacks.

Actually, what the surtax does is add extra brackets, which should have been done long ago and should actually go further.

The lack of an instinct for self-preservation strikes me. If health care doesn't pass, the primary part of the President's agenda, the 2010 midterms could get ugly. And the first people to pay the price would be Blue Dogs in conservative districts and freshmen, the same people grousing at the provisions of the bill. Some of that is legislative sausage as they look to get paid off - but the cost of not having a bill for these members of Congress is great. Henry Waxman puts it best:

Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said he will meet with Ross, along with others, and plans to amend the bill again tomorrow himself.

But he urged them to work to pass the bill instead of tearing it down.

“Can a bunch of Members bring a bill down? Yeah. Then what? ... Democrats have a lot at stake in this legislation, the president has made this his No. 1 priority,” he said. “We’re going to have to come together.”

(notice, too, that the public option was not part of any of these concerns. The blogosphere is missing the mark here)

...Here's Ben Nelson also being an idiot and attributing the idiocy to his constituents.

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