Is Healthcare reform On The Verge Of Passing? Or Will Jim DeMint Be Proven Right About Obama's Waterloo?
Does Democratic whip Jim Clyburn know something about anti-Choice fanatic Bart Stupak that no one else does? Yesterday on Meet the Press Clyburn predicted that Stupak would vote for the final bill. "There will be no federal funds for abortion," Clyburn reiterated, the Democratic position from the earliest negotiations. "And I think that most people that look at this have now come to that conclusion. And I do believe that Congressman Stupak will end up voting for this bill because I think he's going to be very comfortable with it in the coming days."
But while more and more Democrats have been rallying to Connie Saltonstall, the former Charlevoix County commissioner who just decided to run a primary race against Stupak, he ran to his anti-choice conservative allies whining that the Democratic leadership has been ignoring his deranged and infantile outbursts. "They're ignoring me," he complained to the neo-fascist National Review. “That’s their strategy now. The House Democratic leaders think they have the votes to pass the Senate’s health-care bill without us. At this point, there is no doubt that they’ve been able to peel off one or two of my twelve. And even if they don’t have the votes, it’s been made clear to us that they won’t insert our language on the abortion issue... I am a definite 'no' vote. I didn’t cave. The others are having both of their arms twisted, and we’re all getting pounded by our traditional Democratic supporters, like unions."
Unions have defended and supported Stupak. If he wants to demonize them in the right-wing media, he must really be feeling the heat. Just by mentioning that Connie was in the race, Blue America has raised nearly $4,500 for her in a few days. Now that Digby has traveled to meet her in person and speak with her about a broad range of issues, kick the tires and determine that she's of good character, our PAC will be formally endorsing her on Wednesday morning. (She'll be live blogging with us at Crooks and Liars at 3pm (EST/12pm PT). Stupak realizes he's now turned himself into another Joe Lieberman or Blanche Lincoln. He's pissed off the base so badly that it will be difficult for him to ever win an election again.
Picture DeMint, McConnell, Boehner & Lindsey onstage
Although Boehner, a guest on CNN's State of the Union yesterday claimed that Pelosi doesn't have the 216 votes she needs to pass healthcare reform, Pelosi disagrees and Clyburn says he's confident that they will have the votes when the vote is taken. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was on Fox News Sunday predicting that within one week healthcare reform would be "the law of the land." But the latest Hill report sounds like a real gut-wrenching drama
More than a few politically vulnerable lawmakers, such as freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), appear torn.
On Wednesday night, Pelosi cornered Perriello for an intense conversation on the House floor.
Asked about that conversation, Perriello walked away, telling The Hill that he “wouldn’t talk about healthcare.” Perriello, who is in a tossup race, voted yes last fall.
The enormous media attention on healthcare reform doesn't make the members' situations any easier.
Some members have expressed their views to hometown newspapers while others have kept mum. For example, Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), a no vote last November, has declined to talk to the Denver Post about her position.
Supposedly Markey wanted to vote "yes" in November but was warned by her own leaders that it was too risky in her district and forced her-- tears in her eyes-- to vote "no." She then ran and joined the Blue Dog caucus. Now she's in a pickle.
The pressure will be most intense on the Democrats from the classes of 2006 and 2008. These members are the most vulnerable in the midterm elections and are considered more likely to be persuaded by Democratic leaders, including Obama.
A yes vote could help them climb the ladder in the Democratic Party. Yet, it could also be a liability in the elections.
Freshman Rep. John Boccieri (D-Ohio), a GOP target who voted no last year, told Foxnews.com, "I'm not afraid to cast a tough vote and I'm not afraid to stand up to leadership in doing so."
...Little over two weeks ago, freshman New York Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon told the Staten Island Advance that he didn’t “see anything” in the president’s revamped healthcare proposal “to have me come off my ‘no’ vote."
But since then, his position has shifted somewhat.
Noting that the Democratic Caucus hadn't seen the actual bill yet, McMahon said he "can't say finally" how he will vote but "you know I didn't vote for the health bill the first time."
Asked if he was "undecided" or "leaning no," McMahon joked, "Is there a place in between?"
Then he responded, "I'm leaning no."
According to The Hill's tracking of member positions, 35 Democrats say they are going to vote no or are likely to vote no. Another 73 are publicly undecided.
Of course, it is impossible to read the minds of legislators, and it is highly probable that some undecided Democrats have decided. For tactical and other reasons, they are deciding to keep their votes to themselves-- and perhaps Democratic leaders.
Likewise, there are certainly some Democrats in the no/leaning no category who could be persuaded.
But not all of them.
Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.), who voted no in November, has said he is an absolute firm no this time around. Rep. Gene Taylor (Miss.), one of the most conservative Democrats in the lower chamber, has repeatedly promised his constituents he will vote no. Similarly, there is no chance that Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) will vote yes. Davis represents a district that Obama won with 71 percent of the vote, but is running to win the governor's mansion in a state that gave Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over 60 percent in the 2008 presidential race.
Don't you wish there were men and women as courageous as Connie Saltonstall in all these districts? Wouldn't you love to see a forthright Democrats stand up against Boren. At least Democrats in the Alabama gubernatorial primary have an opportunity to Just Say No to Davis and end his disgraceful political career. And for the rest of us... please Send A Message Democrats Will Understand. Connie: “Our Congressman has let us down. Bart Stupak has threatened to block healthcare reform unless the Amendment that bears his name is included in the final bill. I believe that he has a right to his personal, religious views, but to deprive his constituents of needed healthcare reform because of those views is reprehensible.” She believes that voters in Michigan’s 1st CD will support a candidate who will work for them on the important issues of job creation, heath care, education, infrastructure maintenance and improvements, and protecting the environment. (They take the threats to the Great Lakes eco-system very seriously in MI-01). “Michigan and the First District are facing enormous challenges and we cannot afford to sacrifice solutions for individual agendas. Stupak is co-chair of the Pro-Life Caucus and is putting their interests above those of his district. No federal funds have been used for abortions since 1977, and that provision will stay in effect without his amendment. In my opinion, Bart Stupak has shown that he is willing to block important legislation to support his own agenda at the expense of those he was elected to represent.”
Update: Backing Grayson
Marcy Winograd, who is running for Congress against corporate Blue Dog Jane Harman, is urging all House members to get behind Alan Grayson's legislation to allow Americans to buy into Medicare at cost. The last we checked there were 60 co-sponsors. Marcy told us she would have been the first co-sponsor to sign on if she were in Congress. Although residents of CA-36 strongly favor meaningful healthcare reform with a public option (or single payer), Harman has refused to co-sponsor Grayson's bill, although is likely to do it if Marcy keeps campaigning about it as she has been doing all week.
"By all means, Americans should be allowed to participate in an already-established single-payer system that cuts waste while offering quality health care. Unfortunately, my opponent Jane Harman has yet to co-sponsor this much-needed bill, despite her pledges to support a public option. In Congress, I will champion efforts to make Medicare available to anyone who wants to participate."