Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Blue Dog Speaks On Health Care In L.A.-- Teabagger Action In Alhambra Next Week?


Norman Rockwell's classic Freedom Of Speech (1943)

Earlier today I was reading how Arkansas' worst reactionary Blue Dog, Mike "I'm in the Middle" Ross, was bragging how he killed single payer. Jane Hamsher pointed out that the basic arithmetic of the kennel that Rahm Emanuel's pro-Blue Dog policies have saddled us with make single payer a non-starter. But is every Blue Dog as reactionary and in the pocket of the Insurance and Medical Industry CEOs as Ross? First of all some-- like John Barrow (GA)-- are even worse than Ross. Barrow voted against Ross' Insurance Industry supported proposals in the Energy and Commerce Committee because they weren't conservative enough for his tastes. Other Blue Dogs have been adamant that they are supporting health care reform and will go along with whatever Obama gives the green light to. Maybe they already know what many progressives fear about Obama's intentions, but the California Blue Dogs seem to fit into that category.

There are seven California Blue Dogs-- the most from any one state: Joe Baca (San Bernardino, Ontario), Dennis Cardoza (Central Valley), Jim Costa (Central Valley), Jane Harman (Venice, San Pedro), Loretta Sanchez (Orange County), Adam Schiff (Glendale, Pasadena), and Mike Thompson (Napa, Mendocino, Humboldt). I've been checking around to see if any of the L.A. area Blue Dogs are holding townhall meetings, since I'd love to hear what a Democrat who works behind the scenes to prevent ordinary working families from getting health coverage sounds like. I have so many friends in Jane Harman's district that I started there. Many of the people I know there went to a big 3 hour health care forum on June 27. It was all about single payer and it drew a large crowd, although it was before the race-baiting teabaggers, Hate Talk Radio distortionists, and Insurance Industry-funded astro-turfers got busy so there was no violence or psychotic breakdowns, just an intelligent discussion of the options being discussed in Congress and in Sacramento. The speakers were 3 doctors-- Dr. Jo Olson, Dr. Susie Baldwin and Dr. Steve Tarzynski-- and filmmaker Don Schroeder, whose movie, California OneCare: Full Care, For All, For Less explores solutions for the country's health care crisis. But no teabaggers. Can you have a health care forum with no teabaggers? Jane Harman didn't show up either. She was probably busy spying for the Mossad or working behind the scenes to kill health care reform. I called the progressive Democrat who's challenging her in next year's primary-- Marcy Winograd-- since she was there, and asked her if she and Harman have different positions on health care reform.
Although Harman professes to support a public option, the fact is she still belongs to the Blue Dogs, corporate Democrats vehemently opposed to a public option. My question to her would be-- How many other Blue Dogs have you won over? Why do you continue to call yourself a Blue Dog?

At the end of the day, we need expanded Medicare, health care that is publicly funded yet privately delivered. Harman has never once signed on to Congressman Conyers' bill for single-payer, nor has she vowed to support the Kucinich amendment to protect states' rights to enact single-payer. When I am elected, I will immediately support Conyers' bill, as well as efforts to make a public option truly competitive with private insurance. Right after I finished running cable commercials, challenging Harman to support Conyers' bill, Big Pharma ran Air America commercials urging listeners to call Harman to thank her for her support of health care research. Why is Big Pharma campaigning for Harman?

That's worrisome!

In contrast to Harman, I have taken a leadership role in the health care debate. As the co-founder of Progressive Democrats of America's Los Angeles chapter, I have worked to embed single-payer into the California Democratic Party platform, hold town hall meetings on our health care crisis, and organize grassroots and legislative support for enacting single-payer in California. It is not enough to say you support something; it's what you do that counts.

Harman isn't holding any constituent meetings about health care or anything else while Congress is on recess. But I finally found a Blue Dog who is-- Adam Schiff. I know Adam. I helped get him elected when he ran against Clinton impeachment fanatic James Rogan in the district next door to mine. Gore, Kerry and Obama all won landslide victories in the solidly blue district. McCain barely got 30% of the vote last year. But Schiff joined the Republican-leaning Blue Dogs (and voted with Bush on the Iraq War) anyway.

I'm uncertain if Schiff plays as insidious a role as Harman behind the scenes. Like her-- as well as Joe Baca, Loretta Sanchez and Mike Thompson-- he refused to sign the Blue Dog anti-health care manifesto that Ross claims is supported by all the Blue Dogs. Publicly Schiff is all for a robust public option. He did an OpEd for the Glendale News-Press on July 27, which I'm quoting from below:
If you’re like many Americans, you have a health-care plan that provides quality medical care, but costs you a small fortune. Every year, your premiums increase far faster than your wages-- three times faster in fact-- and your health-care costs continue to take a bigger bite out of your paycheck. And at some point in your life, one of your family members has had a serious injury or illness that put a major strain on the family finances but didn’t force you into bankruptcy.

That’s if you’re lucky. Many millions of Americans have no health-care insurance and receive their care at the emergency room. Millions more must make the difficult choice of whether to pay their medical bills or pay their mortgage because they cannot afford to do both. And then there are those whose medical bills became so severe, they are forced into bankruptcy or foreclosure-- two thirds of all bankruptcies and half of all foreclosures are a result of a health-care crisis in the family.

...[T]he president and Congress are working in earnest on a major reform of our health-care system designed to bring down the costs of medical care, to provide stable coverage that cannot be taken away and won’t be lost when you change jobs, and to give Americans the choice of staying in their current plan, buying new private insurance at reduced costs through an exchange, or seeking coverage through a public option.

As a nation we spend almost twice as much per person on health care as any other country, or about 1/6 of our gross domestic product. And for all the money we are spending, our health-care system does not produce the best outcomes. The United States ranks 37th in terms of health system performance, and we are far behind many other countries when it comes to infant mortality, life expectancy and preventable deaths. This is notwithstanding the fact that we have many of the best trained doctors and nurses, the finest facilities and most advanced specialty care in the world.

Our current level of spending is unsustainable and will eventually bankrupt the country if it’s not fixed. I have been working hard to push for reforms in the health-care package that will bring down health-care costs by tying payments to outcomes, rather than the quantity of tests being run; by ending the government’s overpayment for prescription drugs; by empowering an independent commission to put health-care cost reductions before the Congress for an up-or-down vote; by introducing competition with the private plans through a public option; and by investing in prevention and primary care.

A successful reform package should provide the kind of stability where you will always have coverage, even if your job doesn’t provide it, where it is easy and affordable to shop for health insurance through an exchange, where you can’t be denied health coverage for a pre-existing condition or charged more because of your gender.

Sounds more like a Democrat than a Blue Dog. And perhaps that's why the teabaggers are targeting his health care town hall on Tuesday. As far as I've been able to find, Schiff is the only Blue Dog in the L.A. area holding a forum. It's a 90 minute constituent meeting starting at 7PM on Tuesday, August 11th at the Alhambra Civic Center Library Community Room on 101 S. First Street, Alhambra.

No, not all morons live in Arkansas

A right-wing GOP fringe group, the Pasadena Patriots is working with Hate Talk radio host Kevin James (KRLA) and the Los Angeles County GOP to pack the meeting with misinformed and delusional nutcases who think Obama was born in Mombasa or Jakarta and is actually a reincarnation of Hitler because they heard it from Limbaugh and Beck and Hannity-- which is what they traded functioning brains for. DWT will be there as well. Come up and say hello if you can make it.

UPDATE: And In San Diego...

Poor Brian Bilbray. The far right fanatics hate him because he's not extreme enough. And normal working families don't appreciate that he always sides against them and with the corporate interests who shovel out the donations. He is after all, an ex-lobbyst, and a very corrupt one at that. His town hall meeting should be interesting since he'll probably be under pressure from Ron Paul kooks, birthers, neo-Nazis (I mean even neo-Nazis who aren't Ron Paul kooks) and from normal working constituents who understand the need for health care reform-- which Bilbray opposes. Here's his schedule of town halls next week:
Monday, August 10, 2009 - 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM
Clairemont Community Coffee at Live Well San Diego
4425 Bannock Avenue, San Diego

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 - 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM
Rancho Bernardo Community Coffee at Ed Brown Senior Center
18402 West Bernardo Dr., San Diego

Wednesday, August 12 - 7 AM
Del Mar Optimist Club Breakfast Meeting at Denny's
2203 Via de la Valle, Del Mar

These Republican and Blue Dog congressmembers love those quickie 45 minute to one hour meetings-- less time they give the lobbyists. Maybe they're afraid they'll get cooties from their voters. Find a congressional recess event near your home: