Which Democrats Will Cross The Aisle Today And Vote Against Health Care Reform?
Several right-wing Democrats, perhaps aware that the DCCC will give them more money for their reelection campaigns if they back the GOP agenda, are expected to make certain that their pals Boehner and Cantor can call today's vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act "bipartisan." In 2011 when the Republicans took over the House and Boehner became Speaker, the first thing they did, H.R. 2, was to vote to repeal health care reform. Every single Republican-- no exceptions-- voted for repeal. They were joined by 3 of the most reflexively reactionary Democrats-- Blue Dogs, Dan Boren (OK), Mike McIntyre (NC) and Mike Ross (AR)-- and the bill passed 245-189... and then quickly died. Since then, the GOP has forced several more pointless votes on repealing what they call ObamaCare.
And they're going for it again today. While there has been some speculation that several vulnerable Republicans-- particularly David McKinley (R-WV), who's likely to lose his seat to progressive Sue Thorn, Brian Bilbray, who is unlikely to survive a challenge by ConservaDem Scott Peters in a swing district that has been redrawn to swing bluer, and perhaps Mary Bono Mack, who could be facing a serious challenge from a popular progressive doctor, Raul Ruiz, campaigning on health care issues-- could jump ship and vote with the Democrats, it's much more likely that Boehner and Cantor will pick up some more Blue Dogs.
Although Larry Kissell first ran for Congress as an unabashed progressive and a champion of working families, he quickly sold out to the Dark Side and began voting pretty consistently with the corporate interests and the Republicans. Last year he gave up and pretensions of even being a Democrat at all and joined the Blue Dogs. Thousands of Democrats in his district have already made up their minds to not vote for him in November, allow a Republican to win and then try to elect an actual Democrat in 2014. Not likely that his announcement this week that he's voting against the Affordable Care Act will change any minds. Remember, before he stabbed progressive voters in the back in 2009 and morphed into a conservative, Kissell ran in 2006 and 2008 as a fire-brand populist. In 2006 he came within a few votes of defeating multimillionaire Bush rubber stamp Robin Hayes (60,926 to 60,597) and won a big victory in crucial Mecklenburg County (10,931- 5,157). In 2008 as part of the Democratic tidal wave-- Obama beat McCain in NC-8 with 53% of the vote-- Kissell dislodged Hayes in a highly contested rematch, 157,185- 126,634. Enthusiastic, fired-up Democrats and left-leaning independents came out to vote in great numbers and gave Kissell impressive victories in 8 out of the district's 10 counties. 2010 saw a very different race. North Carolina Democrats felt let down by Kissell's abysmal voting record and disappointing performance as a congressman. He barely scraped by against a lunatic fringe hate talk radio host, Harold Johnson, 87,394 (53%) to 72,626 (44%), setting off alarm bells at the DCCC. Almost half his 2008 voters stayed home. But the lesson the DCCC learned wasn't that Kissell should cultivate the base and stay true to his roots; it was that he should become more conservative and vote more frequently with the GOP. That's why he has virtually no chance to win reelection this November, not that that will stop the DCCC from wasting between a million and two million dollars on his race.
Boehner and Cantor claim they have several other conservative Blue Dogs and New Dems in the bag. There are 19 Democratic incumbents on the DCCC's top spend priority list, "Frontline Democrats," and of them most are extremely reactionary and extremely open to abandoning their own party and crossing over to the GOP side. Tucson's newly elected Ron Barber, for example, has only been in Congress for a couple weeks and has already shown that Cantor can generally count on his support of the Republican agenda. He even voted for civil contempt against Eric Holder and for gutting the most important environmental laws ever passed. The fact that he's being challenged vigorously by progressive doctor Matt Heinz has put him into a bind and he's torn between following his gut-- to vote to kill the Affordable Care Act-- and being wary that if he does, his alienation from AZ-2 Democrats will be complete and unsalvageable. Aside from Barber, there are 7 Blue Dogs (Barrow, Boswell, Chandler, Kissell, Matheson, McIntyre and Schrader) and 3 other ConservaDems (Critz, Hochul and Owens) who often vote with the Republicans on key roll calls. Not a single one of them could win reelection without massive DCCC financial support. But DCCC Chair Steve Israel, far from demanding they toe the line, encourages them to vote with the Republicans.
The GOP’s hope is that a strong House vote-- and fresh Democratic opposition-- will thwart the White House’s effort to boost political support for the law in light of the court ruling, said one House Republican leadership aide.
Wednesday’s vote represents the House’s 31st attempt to kill the law as a whole or in part.
On Monday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) went after Republicans with this figure, criticizing the GOP for an effort that will go nowhere in the Senate.
“The effort that the Republicans are undertaking on Wednesday [is] the 31st vote to repeal healthcare,” Hoyer said, chuckling, at an event. “And after every vote … not one alternative has been proposed.”
...North Carolina Reps. Mike McIntyre (D) and Kissell have both said they will support repeal. Kissell joined the Blue Dogs earlier this year amid a tough fight for reelection, and both men made headlines recently for declining to endorse Obama.
“I’ve heard from hundreds and hundreds of people from my district about their opposition to the healthcare law,” Kissell recently told the Charlotte Observer. “I voted against it originally and I will vote to repeal it.”
However, when House Republicans originally brought the repeal motion to the floor, Kissell told reporters he wouldn’t support that measure.
“I made a promise and commitment that I would look out for Medicare, and I’m doing that,” he said at the time, according to reports.
But several other Democrats, including Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.) and Mike Ross (Ark.), did not respond to repeated inquiries about how they will vote on Wednesday. Rep. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), who is running for the Senate, has not said how he’ll vote after opposing both the law and its repeal.
The Democratic leadership is whipping its members against repeal, but aides said Monday they did not have an estimate of how many will vote with Republicans.
The GOP expects no defections from its ranks and is not formally whipping its members, a Republican aide said.
Later today we'll be examining what Democratic candidates who oppose the ACA because it's too compromised and tied to Big Insurance are proposing to make the bill function better for ordinary working families. And we'll be launching a series of ads on behalf of progressives running against Republicans who vote to kill health care reform.
UPDATE: No Surprises!
All the GOP lemmings voted to repeal and they were joined by, basically, the 5 worse Blue Dogs. Boren (OK) and Ross (AR) are retiring to become lobbyists and why would they change their pattern? The other three are endangered incumbents Kissell (NC), McIntyre (NC) and Matheson (UT). All 3 are on the DCCC Frontline List which means that despite their votes against health care reform today, each will get far more money pumped into their reelection campaigns than Democrats not on the list. In all, close to $5 million will be wasted by Steve Israel trying to save their miserable necks. Kissell has no chance whatsoever and the other two aren't good bets. But never forget, Israel was a Blue Dog too and his ties with these assholes is what he bases his hopes for a fantasy-speakship on.