Blue Dog John Barrow Votes Against Healthcare And Should Be Replaced By Regina Thomas
The healthcare reform bill passed this evening-- as did the related bill regarding the Senate fixes. The bill itself passed 219-212, with 34 Democratic defections. The aisle crossers were: John Adler (NJ), Jason Altmire (Blue Dog-PA), Mike Arcuri (Blue Dog-NY), John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA), Marion Berry (Blue Dog-AR), Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK), Rick Boucher (VA), Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL), Gene Chandler (Blue Dog-KY), Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Artur Davis (AL), Lincoln Davis (Blue Dog-TN), Chet Edwards (TX), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (Blue Dog-SD), Tim Holden (Blue Dog-PA), Larry Kissell (NC), Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD), Lipinksi, Jr (IL), Stephen Lynch (MA), Jim Marshall (Blue Dog-GA), Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT), Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC), Michael McMahon (NY), Charlie Melancon (Blue Dog-LA), Walt Minnick (Blue Dog-ID), Glenn Nye (Blue Dog-VA), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR), Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC), Ike Skelton (MO), Zack Space (Blue Dog-OH), John Tanner (Blue Dog-TN), Gene Taylor (Blue Dog-MS), and Harry Teague (NM). The most likely Democrat to lose his seat in a primary is the subject of this post.
Although GA-12's rich, white Establishment-- including their newspapers, radio and television stations and their country club networks-- are overwhelmingly conservative and Republican, they have been successfully bringing a great deal of pressure to bear on Blue Dog John Barrow, a weak, narcissistic and pathetic little man with laughable visions of senatorial grandeur. The local newspapers framed today's healthcare vote as one that, if opposed, could save little babies from being aborted and as one in which Barrow had to stand up and protect Georgia from the tyranny of... Nancy Pelosi.
Our colleagues at the Savannah Morning News want Rep. John Barrow to stay true to his "Blue Dog" image and vote against the Democratic health-care plan... We hope the congressman hasn't simply been waiting out the prevailing winds. This is one of the biggest issues to come before this or any other Congress. This is an issue of great importance to the fiscal viability of the country and the individual liberty of its citizens. We hope his and others' votes come down to principle-- and that his principles properly reflect his largely conservative district's, regardless of any pressure Democratic leaders may be applying.
We know John Barrow. We don't agree with him politically on a number of issues. But we know he has his head screwed on straight-- and that he knows he works for the people of the 12th District, not for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or even President Barack Obama. He's told us as much.
Even so, he may have to say it into the mirror: Barrow is among a handful of House Democrats that ultra-liberal MoveOn.org is threatening if they take down health care. The group claims to have raised over $1 million in funds it plans to use to find more liberal Democrats to run against Barrow and the others.
Georgians know how silly that is, and Barrow should too: Even if a far-left candidate took him on, it's unlikely 12th District voters would flock to him or her-- and even if Barrow lost, his Democratic challenger would find the left lane ending at the November election, throwing the district into Republican hands.
I hope MoveOn.org supports Regina-- she was added to the Blue America endorsed candidates page today and will be live blogging at Crooks and Liars with us next Saturday-- but she is hardly "an ultra-liberal" or someone being created by MoveOn to take down Barrow. In 2008 she gave up a safe state Senate seat to run against Barrow in the primary. He was saved by Obama's endorsement, an endorsement Barrow has repaid with the worst voting record of any Democrat representing a solidly Democratic district in America. And Regina, who has a proven record supporting the interests of Georgia working families, would certainly have been there for Obama on countless issues Barrow betrayed them on-- the latest, of course, being today's vote on healthcare reform.
As late as Friday, one of Savannah's most connected political reporters, Larry Peterson, quoted Regina saying that she just did not believe Barrow would so blatantly vote against the expressed interests of his own constituents, who very much want healthcare reform. Remember, Barrow unceremoniously fled to Savannah and GA-12 to escape his former newly gerrymandered Athens-based district, now GA-10, to escape the red tide. GA-10, now represented by knuckledragging racist Paul Broun, gave McCain 61% of its vote while GA-12 only gave McCain 45%, his worst showing outside of the Atlanta-Metro area. Democrats and independent voters in GA-12 want healthcare reform, just like most of America does.
Accusing him of "playing games," the Democrat-- former state Sen. Regina Thomas-- predicted Barrow will switch at the last minute.
"He'll say no until the vote," Thomas said. "But he wants to be a hero, so I think he will switch back and vote yes. ... I think it's horrible."
On Friday, local state senator and Democratic National Committee member Lester Jackson urged supporters to ask Barrow to vote yes... [Barrow] restated his opposition to letting federal funds be used for abortions and implied his vote on the bill would reflect constituents' views.
Chatham County Democratic Committee Chair Tony Center said he's "very disappointed" and that the committee repeatedly called on Barrow to back the bill.
Here's the ad on the tippy top of today's Savannah Morning News website:
Barrow, although he is fooling absolutely no one, is telling his friends on the Democratic side that he just can't vote for the bill because it is too easy on the big bad Insurance companies (who have given him over $80,000 in return for a record of solid support for their interests in the past). Moments after he crossed over to the Republican side of the aisle, something he reflexively does on tough, close, substantive votes, we reached Regina. This is what she said about Barrow's votes tonight:
With the exception of the economy, education, and the environment, healthcare reform is the single most critical issue facing Congress today. The votes are in! And for once, the Congressman from GA-12 did exactly as he said he would, he voted "NO!" This is a VOTE akin to the start of the American Revolution and the "shot heard round the world," as it is now ricocheting loudly-- and negatively so-- in the hearts and minds of Americans far and wide, and most assuredly those of Georgia’s 12th Congressional District. But why? Why did the Congressman from GA-12 cast a vote against the 12th District? Why did he deny those in his district without health care the opportunity for available and affordable health care? Why is it that ‘WE the People’ are not as good as those who have Government Health Care (like our US Congressmen and US Senators)? After all, is it not the taxpayer who pays for their Health Care Insurance?
What is the definition of a 'perfect bill' or a ‘better bill?' Legislation is a work in progress-- you make changes as needed. I see Health Care Reform as a Human Rights Issue and to vote against something that will help so many is inhumane. It is not good to forget or take for granted the vote. Obviously, the Congressman from GA-12 has forgotten who elected him!
The 12th District is one of the poorest districts in Georgia-- what could the Congressman have been thinking? Certainly it was not about those in rural areas who must travel to the next largest city to see a doctor; and certainly not the man, woman or child taking Chemo treatments, or radiation treatments, or on dialysis or in need of their insulin because they are diabetic. He was not thinking about that person or persons infected with HIV-Aids, or the women who are suffering from breast cancer (who by the way can no longer work and has been given a separation notice). He couldn’t have been thinking about the people who have lost their jobs because of the economy and cannot keep a roof over their heads or feed their families, and all the while still having to worry about the lack of health care for themselves and their loved ones. He couldn’t have been thinking of the college student who at the age of 24 can no longer be on their parents’ policy, or those with pre-existing conditions. He certainly wasn’t thinking about the senior citizens whose premiums continue to rise and then they fall in the donut hole, nor was he thinking about the many home owners who are in foreclosure because their medical bills far exceed their income. And further, he for sure was not thinking about the 13,700 small businesses that would receive tax credits for their employees. Is it possible that he wasn't even thinking about the 187,000 families who would also receive tax credits? Certainly he couldn't have been thinking about the 83,500 uninsured residents in the 12th district who (when the bill passes) would have coverage.
Is the bill perfect? NO! It is better than what we have now-- hope for a brighter tomorrow, that the time will come when all uninsured persons will have access to affordable and accessible health care.
Lastly, the Congressman campaigned in 2008 that he would support President Obama (after all candidate Obama endorsed him) pass Health Care Reform. The Congressman from the 12th went to the local churches-- promised them that he would do just that help pass legislation to reform Health Care. Then he voted "NO." I will say the Congressman from the 12th has forgotten or he just doesn't care.
Barrow really needs a strong primary challenge. He's got all the money he can use from the special interests he's been coddling. Regina has nothing but grassroots support. Please help her here.
Although she's one of the few Democratic challengers against a healthcare opponent, several Democrats running against Republicans actually got boosts tonight by the lockstep GOP vote against the American people. Billy Kennedy, another Blue America endorsed candidate, is facing strident healthcare opponent Virginia Foxx. This evening Billy told us that "As expected, Congresswoman Foxx has put politics before the people of Western North Carolina by voting 'no' on health insurance reform. While she enjoys a tax-payer subsidized plan, her 'no' vote is an affront to the 119,000 Medicare recipients in the district who want the donut hole closed, and the 53,000 residents who are uninsured.”
I heard a similar message from Natalie Mosher who is running against conservative Republican Thaddeus McCotter in the suburbs west of Detroit and sent this message to Oakland and Wayne County voters. "As Chair of Republican Policy Committee, McCotter is directly responsible for the GOP's obstructionist tactics, cheap theatrics, and spin-- all the while he receives first-class health care as a benefit afforded to all Members of Congress. Simply put, guaranteed health care is okay for him, but not for you. His vote today against you will endear him even more to big insurance companies."
Mitchell Howie is the Alabama Democrat going up against fence-jumper Parker Griffith, who voted no as a Blue Dog and just voted no again as a Republican. A few minutes ago he told me that "Parker Griffith is the sort of self serving politician who knows nothing about service or representing working families in this district. His vote is the latest example of him caring more about insurance companies and special interests than the people. The people of North Alabama deserve a representative who is committed to service of the people not large corporations and insurance companies."
Bill Hedrick also faces a Republican fanatical opponent of healthcare, Ken Calvert. After today's vote Bill told us that "For 18 years, Ken Calvert has put party politics before the people of this district. Today he had a chance to redeem himself by voting for the landmark health insurance reform bill that would directly help hundreds of thousands of people in the 44th. But Ken Calvert, once again putting his personal and party interests first, voted against it."
On more thing about Barrow-- when I called the DCCC and asked them for a comment on him deciding to vote against healthcare redorm and stick with his Republican allies, I got dead silence. "Are you going to keep him on the Front Line list and funnel unsuspecting grassroots Democrat's money into re-electing him?" I asked. "You know," I was told, "we can't comment on that. But, off the record, take him apart. I hope he loses the primary." So do all of us at Blue America. Please contribute to Regina's campaign.