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July 29, 2009

Blue Dogs Sell Out? Agree to Move ObamaCare Forward in Exchange for $100 Billion in Imaginary Cuts?

I'm a bit confused because there are two stories breaking, which may actually be the same story, one which suggests a victory for the anti-ObamaCare forces, the other that suggests defeat.

At Hot Air, the latest story is that the Blue Dogs have been granted a delay:

The Blue Dogs and House leaders have struck a deal to guarantee that the House will not vote on a healthcare bill before August, a leading Blue Dog said on Wednesday.

In exchange for putting off a floor vote until after Labor Day, the Energy and Commerce Committee may be allowed to continue its markup of the healthcare bill this week even if an agreement has not been reached between Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and seven Energy and Commerce Committee Blue Dogs over the content of the bill.

Asked if House leaders had told Democrats that there will be no House vote on healthcare before Friday, Blue Dog Co-Chairwoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) said, “I don’t think [leaders have] made public statements to that regard, but my understanding is that that would be part of an agreement, if they actually do move forward with an Energy and Commerce markup that there will be no vote on the House floor until after Labor Day.” …

“There has been no official announcement on floor timing, but at this point, the odds are that we will not likely vote before we adjourn for August,” a Democratic leadership aide said.

But AHFF Geoff sends me a WSJ story reporting that a deal has been struck:

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said that his committee will resume meetings on health-care legislation on Wednesday after reaching an agreement with conservative Democrats on the committee.

According to Waxman, the Energy and Commerce panel will hold a legislative session late Wednesday afternoon with the hope of approving the legislation by Friday. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., who has led health-care negotiations on behalf of the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition, confirmed that Waxman and Blue Dogs on the committee had arrived at a compromise.

"We have reached an agreement that will allow health-care reform to move forward," Ross said.

Ross said that the overall cost of the bill had been reduced by $100 billion, and that a requirement in the bill that employers offer insurance coverage would exempt small businesses with payrolls of $500,000 or less.

Ross also said that a public health insurance option contained in the bill wouldn't use payment rates based on Medicare, which the Blue Dogs had strongly opposed.

It's my guess that is that in exchange for the fake-pretend "cuts," the vote is stalled, but mark-up proceeds, and, if the deal holds, ObamaCare will pass the House after the recess. Assuming we don't agitate enough to stop that.

It seems as though the Blue Dogs have accepted a deal in principle, and even if they've delayed the vote, they'll come around on it after the recess. Bear in mind that Madame Palomino only needs to pick off 13 or 14 of the 52 Blue Dogs to pass a bill on a razor-thin liberal-Democrats-only majority.

Drew's Guess: Drew seems a bit more sanguine that me. He thinks all that's happened here is that the Blue Dogs have agreed to something that the liberals can herald as a "breakthrough" and "serious progress," thus giving Pelosi and Obama some face-saving cover;

Here's my thought on what the Blue Dogs did...they gave Pelosi and Obama a way to save face.

Combine a marked up bill in the House with the possibility of a Senate Finance Committee report on how they might pay for something and Obama and the Democrats are likely to declare "Mission Accomplished-Kinda Sorta" on his August deadline.

Sure there's no bill for the President to sign but he'll say something like, "This is more than anyone has ever accomplished and it met my deadline. I won, I'm awesome". The press will dutifully agree.

No bill at all would have hurt the Dems and been a big Republican win but having a bill gives opponents something concrete to hit Congressmen and Senators over the head with. It's not as big a win as outright defeat would have been but it does provide an upside for opponents.

In this telling, there is no serious agreement or deal at all, just a fig leaf of contrived "progress" for the liberals to go home to their constituents with.

Hmmm. I think Drew's right, and I don't think I think that just because it's the more optimistic "We're still winning" scenario.

Out of Committee By End of Week: That's the plan. No full House vote, but the plan is to vote it out of committee in a "finalized" (supposedly) form.

I'm back to thinking Drew is wrong. Again, it only takes a baker's dozen of these supposedly moderate Democrats to pass this thing with the thinnest margin.

Tactical Blunder? So thinks Ed in an update to the already-linked post:

If they’re right, this is a tremendously stupid move by Democrats. It gives the Republicans a fixed target for the next few weeks, with an ability to cite the actual legislation and pick it apart, while painting moderate Democrats as fools who haven’t bothered to read it. Having no final version of the bill would have allowed Democrats to dodge questions about it. This makes them stand on the bill for weeks without getting moved out of way. Call it political target practice, practically akin to shooting ducks in a barrel, for the GOP.

Yes, but that's inevitable, isn't it? At some point they do have to produce a bill before voting on a bill. (Although they seem to be rather relaxed about this rule of late.)

While Ed's right about the problem of putting out a bill that can be attacked, that problem has to be compared to the previously-existing problem -- not having a bill to discuss at all, despite Obama's insistence that the time to debate was over and we had to immediately pass a bill which not only hadn't been written yet, but in fact whose basic contours were not even agreed to by anyone.

On the great "cuts" demanded by the Blue Dogs, bear in mind the $100 billion in cuts only take the total expense to somewhat less than one trillion dollars.

Furthermore, the cuts won't happen. So much of this debate is patently dishonest, as Obama and the Democrats deny rationing that will happen, and plump cuts that won't.

Phone Numbers: Under the fold. Pay special attention to guys who represent you. Or are at least in your state.

Be Nice, as tmi3rd sagely advises. If you give the signals that you'll vote for their opponents no matter what they do, well, they're not going to take you very seriously, are they? If you're a determined vote against them, they can't lose or win your vote.

On that point: Be wary of rhetoric and cant, which gives away a partisan. Words like "socialized," "tyranny," etc., mark you as ideologically opposed to them and ergo not even a possible vote for them. Put your objections in terms of the tangible, not the abstract.

Stuff that independents talk about: Higher taxes, rationed care, being forced into the equivalent of a government-run HMO, "co-ops" specifically intended to drive private insurers out of business, etc. Update: And, yeah, deficits forever. Why the hell are we taking on huge new spending obligations when we're already hemorrhaging money and in the midst of a great recession? Not sure if it's worth mentioning, but at least LBJ's Great Society spending was passed when the nation was prosperous and flush.

Remind them that 85% of the country is content with their health insurance and that it's unfair to ask you to do with less so that others might (maybe) have more.

It might be more fun to talk about abstractions and in rhetorical flourishes and slippery slopes, but swing voters are defined chiefly by a lack of adherence to an ideological superstructure of beliefs and assumptions, and focus, therefore, on the particulars and the concrete, not general principles and the abstract.

Not saying to lie about your ideological preference. No need to mention it either way. But cast your objections in tangible terms if you want to give the impression you're a swing voter.

To be honest, my own eyes glaze over when I hear or read a lot of rightist cant, and I'm in basic agreement with that cant.

A Nifty Widget for Sending Messages... Although of course you shouldn't send anything like the "editable text" provided. It's obviously composed by an opposition strategist.

Thanks to AHFF Geoff again for the widget and phone numbers.

The number of the Capital Switchboard is 202-224-3121.

The Blue Dog Leadership Team and there telephone and fax numbers are:

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Administration, Telephone: 202.225.2801 , Fax: 202.225.5823

Rep. Baron Hill (IN-09), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Policy,Telephone: 202-225-4031, Fax: (202) 226-6866

Rep. Charlie Melancon (LA-03), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications, Telephone: 202-225-4031, Fax: (202) 226-3944

Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-11), Blue Dog Whip, Telephone: 202-225-6401, Fax: (202) 226-6422

The Blue Dog Members and their telephone numbers are :

Altmire, Jason (PA-04),(202)225-2565

Arcuri, Mike (NY-24), (202)225-3665

Baca, Joe (CA-43),(202)225-6161

Barrow, John (GA-12), (202) 225-2823

Berry, Marion (AR-01), (202) 225-4076

Bishop, Sanford (GA-02), (202) 225-3631

Boren, Dan (OK-02), (202) 225-2701

Boswell, Leonard (IA-03), (202) 225-3806

Boyd, Allen (FL-02), (202) 225-5235

Bright, Bobby (AL-02), (202) 225-2901

Cardoza, Dennis (CA-18), (202) 225-6131

Carney, Christopher (PA-10), (202) 225-3731

Chandler, Ben (KY-06), (202) 225-4706

Childers, Travis (MS-01), (202) 225-4306

Cooper, Jim (TN 5th), (202) 225-4311

Costa, Jim (CA 20th), (202) 225-3341

Cuellar, Henry (TX 28th), (202) 225-1640

Dahlkemper, Kathleen A. (PA 3rd), (202) 225-5406

Davis, Lincoln (TN 4th),(202) 225-6831

Donnelly, Joe (IN 2nd), (202) 225-3915

Ellsworth, Brad (IN 8th), (202) 225-4636

Giffords, Gabrielle (AZ 8th), (202) 225-2542

Gordon, Bart (TN 6th), (202) 225-4231

Griffith, Parker (AL 5th), (202) 225-4801

Harman, Jane (CA 36th), (202) 225-8220

Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie (SD At Large), (202) 225-2801

Hill, Baron P. (IN 9th), (202) 225-5315

Holden, Tim (PA 17th), (202) 225-5546

Kratovil, Frank Jr. (MD 1st), (202) 225-5311

McIntyre, Mike (NC 7th), (202) 225-2731

Marshall, Jim (GA 8th), (202) 225-6531

Matheson, Jim (UT 2nd), (202) 225-3011

Melancon, Charlie (LA 3rd), (202) 225-4031

Michaud, Michael H. (ME 2nd), (202) 225-6306

Minnick, Walt (ID 1st), (202) 225-6611

Mitchell, Harry E. (AZ 5th), (202) 225-2190

Moore, Dennis (KS 3rd), (202) 225-2865

Murphy, Patrick J. (PA 8th), (202) 225-4276

Nye, Glenn C. (VA 2nd), (202) 225-4215

Peterson, Collin C. (MN 7th), (202) 225-2165

Pomeroy, Earl (ND At Large), (202) 225-2611

Ross, Mike (AR 4th), (202) 225-3772

Salazar, John T. (CO 3rd), (202) 225-4761
Sanchez, Loretta (CA 47th), (202) 225-2965

Schiff, Adam B. (CA 29th), (202) 225-4176

Scott, David (GA 13th), (202) 225-2939

Shuler, Heath (NC 11th), (202) 225-6401

Space, Zachary T. (OH 18th), (202) 225-6265

Tanner, John S. (TN 8th), (202) 225-4714

Taylor, Gene (MS 4th), (202) 225-5772

Thompson, Mike (CA 1st), (202) 225-3311

Wilson, Charles (OH-06), (202) 225-5705

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