Who Voted Against Health Care Reform-- And Why?
Bipartisanship: anti-health care clowns in Georgia & Wisconsin
I lived-tweeted last night's historic session of the House of Representatives as it voted to pass the health insurance reform bill. Despite countless attempts over nearly a century, no chamber of Congress has ever before passed comprehensive health reform. This is history. Tragically, 39 Democrats, mostly corrupt, bought-out Insurance Industry shills, crossed the aisle and found themselves on the wrong side of history. Only one Republican, Anh Cao-- ironically the Representative from New Orleans who was elected in response to a major corruption scandal-- crossed the aisle in the other direction, to stand on the right side of history.
Within moments of the final vote, the DCCC was out with a press release to media outlets in Milwaukee, Kenosha, Racine and Janesville pointing out that junior Republican congressional leader Paul Ryan-- the worst shill for the Medical-Industrial Complex ($730,315) and most nortorious lackey of the Insurance Industry ($518,051) in the history of Wisconsin-- was a leader of the mindless obstructionism that led the GOP to refuse to take a serious and constructive part in the debate, instead of just villifying the entire process. The headline: Representative Paul Ryan Just Says No To Affordfable Health Care For America's Middle Class. Although much of the media in his home district reflexively works to shield and protect Ryan from "bad" news, this is what they were reading this morning:
The House of Representatives took historic bipartisan action this evening by passing health insurance reform. Putting big insurance company profits before struggling middle class families in his district, today Representative Paul Ryan said no to reforming health insurance in America.
Jennifer Crider of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said:
“For years, middle class families have seen their health insurance costs skyrocket, while insurance companies have made enormous profits by limiting coverage. Representative Paul Ryan put big insurance companies first by opposing a bipartisan, common sense solution that will guarantee folks with stable, affordable health insurance they can count on. Ryan said no to ending pre-existing medical conditions, like pregnancy, no to controlling costs for small businesses and middle class families, and no to closing the prescription doughnut hole for seniors.”
"Representative Paul Ryan has the peace of mind of knowing he has tax-payer funded health insurance, but today Ryan didn’t hesitate to cast a partisan vote to block reform that would give the families he represents that same peace of mind that they too can see a doctor when they’re sick."
...For Wisconsin's first congressional district, the measure will:
• Improve employer-based coverage for 506,000 residents.
• Provide credits to help pay for coverage for up to 153,000 households.
• Improve Medicare for 112,000 beneficiaries, including closing the prescription drug donut hole for 9,400 seniors.
• Allow 16,000 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide tax credits to help reduce health insurance costs for up to 14,000 small businesses.
• Provide coverage for 26,000 uninsured residents.
• Protect up to 1,600 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
• Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers by $41 million.
Great work from the DCCC, right? And state Democratic Parties sent out press releases too. Here's one I got from former Florida Congresswoman Karen Thurman, now chair of the Florida Democratic Party:
Last night the Affordable Health Care for America Act was passed by the House of Representatives, an important step towards ensuring every American has access to quality, affordable, stable and secure health care coverage. This legislation will finally rein in the insurance companies' worst practices while extending coverage to 36 million Americans and cutting the deficit by $104 billion in the next ten years. The bill was supported by a wide range of groups including doctors, patients, seniors, consumers and Americans across the country. All but one Republican voted against the bill. Reacting to this news, Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman released the following statement:
"Last November, Americans voted for change, and today, that's what they got. Nearly one hundred years ago President Teddy Roosevelt called for health care reform, and today, we have come closer than ever to making it a reality.
"The Affordable Health Care for America Act will provide long overdue reforms to the insurance industry and important protections for Floridians. It will also provide more quality, affordable choices while bringing down the sky-high costs for families and businesses and lowering the national deficit. Because of this act, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions or cancel coverage because of illnesses.
"Today I thank President Obama and Congressional Democrats for their strong leadership on health insurance reform. While this isn't the end of the process, it's a critical step towards finally passing comprehensive health insurance reform."
Seven out of nine of Florida's Democratic members of Congress were part of last night's big victory. But neither the Florida Democratic Party, nor the DCCC, is going to mention that Suzanne Kosmas and Allen Boyd cast the same "no" vote against this historic measure that Paul Ryan did. Kosmas is kind of an embarrassment to the Florida Democratic Party and to the DCCC. Her voting record is down in Blue Dog territory and she's regularly crossing the aisle to vote against the best interests of the working families that sent her to Washington. The insurance industry lobbyists on K Street singled her out early as an obvious mark, someone who would sell them her votes as long as the price was right. Only one freshman member of Congress got bigger pay-offs than Kosmas this year-- Jim Himes ($60,787), from a Connecticut district that houses half the insurance industry-- and he voted against them and with the middle class families of Connecticut anyway! Kosmas, a joke in DC for missing committee meetings so she can spend time with K Street lobbyists took in a staggering $55,516 from Big Insurance this year (almost the same amount as Paul Ryan). Eric Cantor announced early in the debate that Kosmas was in the bag and would be voting with the Republicans against health care. And, judged by the same standards as Ryan, the Florida Democratic Party or the DCCC could have pointed out that Florida's 24th Congressional District would profit by passage of the bill mightily. In fact the House Energy and Commerce Committee research shows that in Congresswoman Kosmas’s district, the Affordable Health Care for America Act will:
• Improve employer-based coverage for 463,000 residents.
• Provide credits to help pay for coverage for up to 176,000 households.
• Improve Medicare for 122,000 beneficiaries, including closing the prescription drug donut hole
• Allow 21,000 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide tax credits to help reduce health insurance costs for up to 19,800 small businesses.
• Provide coverage for 92,000 uninsured residents.
• Protect up to 1,400 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
• Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers by $12 million.
Many observers say that Kosmas is a political coward who is a typical Creigh Deeds follower, doomed to lose in 2010 by discouraging voter turn-out among Democrats. Like Deeds, she tries appealing to Republicans-- and like Deeds she is likely to lose by a massive landslide as Republicans vote for their own candidate and Democrats sit on their hands and hope for a better nominee in 2012.
It wasn't a press release, but I got an interesting e-mail this morning for state Senator Regina Thomas, the progressive who took on reactionary Blue Dog John Barrow in Georgia's 12th CD last year-- and plans to finish the job next year. Like Kosmas and Ryan, Barrow is a corrupt tool of the special interests who sells out his constituents-- he has no roots in teh area and was gerrymandered into teh district, which is foreign territory for him-- at every opportunity. One of the Blue Dogs who votes most frequently with the GOP against working families, Barrow has taken $428,428 from the Medical Industry special interests and another $86,450 in thinly-veiled bribes from the Insurance Industry CEOs and lobbyists. Unlike Kosmas' district, Georgia's 12th CD was Obama territory and the people there voted for Change and for Hope. This is what Regina had to say this morning:
I am not surprised that Congressman Barrow voted against the Health care bill. The 12th District needs to pay attention to his entire voting record. When Bush was president, Barrow voted with the Republicans more on crucial issues that has devastated America (and the 12th) and no one noticed. Congressman Barrow gave Bush's agenda an opportunity to pass. Can't he give this President the same courtesy?
Please keep in mind that this is not the final vote. My summation is: Barrow is voting this way so that the Lobbyist/Industry can continue to pour money into his campaign coffers. Then when the final version of the Health care bill comes to the floor for a final vote he will vote for the bill. My reasoning: the 12th is 44.5% African American. Barrow cannot afford to vote against this bill for fear of losing that block of votes. I will give him credit for one thing-- he knows how to court these voters, some of them believe in him.
All one has to do is look at his 5 year record. Count the times that he has held open Town Hall meetings on any of the crucial issues. Does he stand up in front to take the "heat?" Can he say the same thing to his minority constituents that he says to the Chamber of Commerce and to businesses interests? This is another reason why he needs opposition in the Democratic Primary in 2010. We need a congressperson who will be true to who they say they are and vote for the people-- do the right thing no matter the consequences from Industry.
For these reasons and many more, I gave up the Georgia State Senate so that the voters in the 12th could pay attention and have an opportunity for real change. "Not For Self, But For Others." Let's take the 12th back-- Let's take our country back!
The DCCC didn't mention that in Congressman Barrow’s district, the Affordable Health Care for America Act he voted against last night will:
• Improve employer-based coverage for 346,000 residents.
• Provide credits to help pay for coverage for up to 187,000 households.
• Improve Medicare for 90,000 beneficiaries, including closing the prescription drug donut hole for 6,300 seniors.
• Allow 15,700 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide tax credits to help reduce health insurance costs for up to 13,700 small businesses.
• Provide coverage for 90,000 uninsured residents.
• Protect up to 2,100 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
• Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers by $69 million.
The DCCC is certainly correct about the need to defeat Paul Ryan-- but, aside from sending out press releases to a local media that he has in his pocket-- they're not lifting a finger to oppose him in any substantial way. Blue America is going to try to raise money to help the grassroots candidate, Paulette Garin, Wisconsin's state coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America and for the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care and an outspoken member of the National Single Payer Alliance. You can help here. As for Suzanne Kosmas and John Barrow, the DCCC will "punish" their perfidy last night by taking any money you send to the DCCC and putting it into their races, races made impossible to win because grassroots Democrats are sick and tired of betrayal by cowardly and corrupt Insider Democrats. Barrow will be a major target of the Blue America Bad Dogs effort in this cycle.
I love Donna Edwards. Her short speech about why she was voting for health care reform made me cry last night-- and not fake Glenn Beck tears. Like Donna, there was a time in my life when I couldn't afford health insurance-- or health care-- either. Americans deserve better than predatory insurance companies thriving on misery. This is why America needs more members of Congress like Donna Edwards and less like Paul Ryan, Suzanne Kosmas and John Barrow: