How Does One Justify Singling Out Just One Blue Dog-- In This Case Parker Griffith Of Alabama-- As The Worst Democrat In The House?
Please click on the chart so you can read it
The threshold for being a Democrat Inside the Beltway is pretty low. Earlier today we mentioned how reactionary Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln is facing a primary from an even more reactionary state senator, Bob Johnson, based not on her abysmal record of crossing the aisle to vote with the Republicans and the corporate, anti-family interests they represent, but because she didn't cross that aisle frequently enough for the Arkansas Trans-Party Political Establishment. Johnson, on the other hand, actually does fund-raisers for conservative Republicans back home.
Many Democrats were disillusioned when one of newly elected President Obama's first political moves was to rehabilitate Joe Lieberman, who had been soundly rejected by grassroots Democrats in his own state-- defeated in a primary-- and had gone on to endorse and raise money from Republicans running for the Senate, and had campaigned vigorously against Obama, not in the primary but in the general election. Now Lieberman working vigorously for his Big Insurance and Big Pharma paymasters-- with his GOP allies-- to undermine health care reform that Obama claims, somewhat spuriously, to favor.
But it is neither Arkansas' nor Connecticut's political oddities that I want to ask you to think about right now. How about Alabama? What can one say about this bastion of Know Nothing racism, hatred and bucktoothed superstitions? My heart goes out to normal Americans stuck, for one reason or another, in this corrupt hellhole of ignorance. Last night I watched a video of Mike Stark trying to talk to one of Alabama's Blue Dog Democrats, Bobby Bright. Mike wanted to ask Bright what his position was on health care reform. Watch the clip; Bright wouldn't even tell Mike his name:
Last year McCain did extremely well in Bright's district-- 63%-- a district that was purposely gerrymandered to make it safely Republican. The PVI is R+13 and in so far as it hasn't been Republican, well... was George Wallace's home base. Bright won his election bid last year with just a fraction over 50% of the vote-- 144,368 to 142,578. Since getting into Congress he's voted far more frequently with the Republicans on substantive matters than he has with Democrats. He's tied with fellow Blue Dogs Frank Kratovil (MD) and Walt Minnick (ID) as the 5th worst Democrat in the House. Who's worse? Glenn Nye (Blue Dog-VA), Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Scott Murphy (NY), although Murphy hasn't been in Congress long enough to rally determine if he's as bad as his first few votes make him seem, and... the worst Democrat in Congress, way up in the northern part of the state, Parker Griffith-- who has actually voted more frequently with the GOP than three Republicans!
Griffith's district isn't as Republican as Bright's-- the PVI is R+6 and it has never elected a Republican to Congress. Obama only managed 38% last year (losing every single county), but Griffith won election with 52%. But besides voting more often with the Republicans than any other Democrat in Congress, Griffith has just crossed a line that few have done in recent times. According to the Huntsville Times Griffith held a townhall meeting that was populated-- overwhelmingly-- by dining room tables and aliens from miscellaneous other galaxies. When he was questioned by the president of the local Steel Workers Union-- which had worked to elect him-- he refused to say he was even a Democrat and played up to the dining room tables at the meeting, boasting that he thinks Nancy Pelosi belongs in a mental institution. When questioned, he then promised the teabaggers that he won't vote for her for Speaker in the next session of Congress. "I would not vote for her. Someone that divisive and that polarizing cannot bring us together."
As CQPolitics pointed out, Griffith hasn't returned the $4,000 check Pelosi gave him for his re-election campaign for 2010. So far he has no primary challenge from an actual Democrat.
UPDATE: Griffith And Health Care Reform
Since Parker Griffith is so firmly in the pocket of Big Insurance and the Medical-Industrial Complex, we decided to take a look at how the current health care proposals in the House that he opposes would impact the working families in northern Alabama. The report we found is just for the 5th Congressional District, which Griffith temporarily represents.
America’s Affordable Health Choices Act would provide significant benefits in the 5th Congressional District of Alabama: up to 13,300 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees; 7,700 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D; 1,670 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $127 million in uncompensated care each year; and 82,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance. Congressman Parker Griffith represents the district.
• Help for small businesses. Under the legislation, small businesses with 25 employees or less and average wages of less than $40,000 qualify for tax credits of up to 50% of the costs of providing health insurance. There are up to 13,300 small businesses in the district that could qualify for these credits.
• Help for seniors with drug costs in the Part D donut hole. Each year, 7,700 seniors in the district hit the donut hole and are forced to pay their full drug costs, despite having Part D drug coverage. The legislation would provide them with immediate relief, cutting brand name drug costs in the donut hole by 50%, and ultimately eliminate the donut hole.
• Health care and financial security. There were 1,670 health care-related bankruptcies in the district in 2008, caused primarily by the health care costs not covered by insurance. The bill provides health insurance for almost every American and caps annual out-of-pocket costs at $10,000 per year, ensuring that no citizen will have to face financial ruin because of high health care costs.
• Relieving the burden of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers. In 2008, health care providers in the district provided $127 million worth of uncompensated care, care that was provided to individuals who lacked insurance coverage and were unable to pay their bills. Under the legislation, these costs of uncompensated care would be virtually eliminated.
• Coverage of the uninsured. There are 102,000 uninsured individuals in the district, 15% of the district. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that nationwide, 97% of all Americans will have insurance coverage when the bill takes effect. If this benchmark is reached in the district, 82,000 people who currently do not have health insurance will receive coverage.
• No deficit spending. The cost of health care reform under the legislation is fully paid for: half through making the Medicare and Medicaid program more efficient and half through a surtax on the income of the wealthiest individuals. This surtax would affect only 2,500 households in the district. The surtax would not affect 99.2% of taxpayers in the district.