The Dog Days Of Health Care Reform
Maxine Waters has basically had enough.
WATSON: Is the President and Rahm Emanuel -- former member of the House -- are they treading too lightly here, are they not bringing out the big stick against some of those Blue Dog Democrats and saying "we've got a once in a four-decade opportunity to get this passed, everyone knows how easy it is for momentum to dissipate, you guys have to get on board and we've got to go forward and make sure that everyone has better health care, is covered, and hopefully better quality of outcome?
WATERS: Well that may be difficult for Rahm Emanuel, because don't forget -- he recruited most of them. As when he was over in the Congress, in the leadership, Rahm Emanuel recruited more conservative members and based on some of the information I'm getting, they told them that they could vote the way they wanted to vote, that they would not interfere with what was considered their philosophy about some of these things. So, now the chickens have come home to roost.
I'm sure Emanuel would counter that, without his recruitment, those would be Republican seats right now, and how would that help us. Well, a good number of those Blue Dogs wouldn't be blocking Democratic bills in committee, for one thing.
Waters says she's holding strong on blocking a bill without a public option.
KERY ELEVELD: There are reports out of the Senate Finance Committee today that they may be dropping the public option in their negotiations. Do you think that's going to sell in the House?
WATERS: No. As a matter of fact, that's a kill for sure for the progressives. For the majority, I think, of our members a public option is a compromise -- we wanted single payer as you know, and we backed off because they said that was going to be impossible to do. Again they brought up the more conservative elements, etc. etc., and so we will not support any bill that does not have a public option in it.
We always hear about the tricky politics for the Blue Dogs or Democrats in moderate districts. In this case, the politics are tricky for progressives in safe seats. If they don't hold firm, I have little doubt that THEY will see primary challenges from the left. Whether or not they'll succeed is another matter, but you can see how a primary challenge has turned Arlen Specter into a progressive lefty. Progressives have political interests in getting something good done as well. And as George Miller says, the Baucus bill just doesn't cut it:
Part of the problem, as I suggested earlier, is that the news out of the Senate has widened a rift between House liberals and Blue Dogs. Rep. George MIller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and an author of House health care legislation, isn't at all pleased with the watered down reform bill the Senate Finance Committee is set to propose.
"I don't think that adds up to health care reform. It doesn't add up to insurance reform. It doesn't add up to keeping costs down. I don't know what the hell that adds up to," Miller said.
Basically, this is a massive game of chicken between moderates and liberals. The moderates figure liberals will back down, based on past experience. The liberals think the moderates will do the same. What the liberals have going for them is the fact, plain fact, that a defeat of health care reform will drag down the party, and the most vulnerable seats, frankly, are occupied by those same moderates. If health care reform passes, certain lawmakers could lose seats in very particular circumstances. But if reform fails, only one group is certain to go down with it - the Blue Dogs.