Blue Dog Bite


Don’t celebrate too soon. The stakes are so high in the health care debate, we shouldn’t be surprised if Obama pulls off a Hail Mary and finds a way to get some sort of socialized medicine model passed.

“Let’s just lay everything on the table,” Grassley said. “A Democrat congressman last week told me after a conversation with the president that the president had trouble in the House of Representatives, and it wasn’t going to pass if there weren’t some changes made … and the president says, ‘You’re going to destroy my presidency.’ ”

Jim DeMint, the moron that he is, was correct when he said the Obama presidency might be broken if the President doesn’t get health care passed. And that’s why if you’re a betting sort, you should put your money on passage. Why would Democrats, who have waited so long to hold all the power, toss the moment away?

It is not Republicans who threaten passage of socialized medicine – that power is in the hands of more conservative, Blue Dog Democrats.

House Republicans Tuesday made hay of the issue, with Ways and Means minority staff sending out an e-mail asking, “Who’s really blocking health care reform?”

“Do not be fooled by the president’s repeated attempts to create a Republican straw man for his health care troubles,” the e-mail reads. The GOP pointed to ads the Democratic National Committee is running to pressure Democratic lawmakers.

Nevertheless, this is an important moment. As Obama weakens in the polls, with voters trusting him least on his leadership on the health care issue, there is less pressure on members of both parties to stay with the President when they think he’s pursuing bad policy, or worse, when he’s putting their reelections in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, the Finance Committee continues to negotiate its bipartisan bill. Seven negotiators have been at the table, but Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus referred Tuesday to “all six in the room.” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has not been noticed attending the meetings for some time.

The Democrats’ loss of the old school, let’s work together Orrin Hatch, bodes well for those wishing to save America from the Obama Presidency. Hatch works hard to reach across the aisle, and he’s been eager to embrace health reform that isn’t modeled on the old Soviet Union.

Ironically, it is a measly (by Washington standards) $20 billion dollars a year that needs to be found to solve the logjam. And Democrats are fighting with themselves over where to find the cash. Some favor the once maligned McCain proposal to stop allowing corporations to deduct the cost of health insurance provided to workers.

Unions have come out heavily against that proposal because of the potential for higher costs to be passed down to workers. Most big companies offer their own insurance plans to employees, meaning the pain could be spread beyond the insurance industry.

The idea of taxing the rich is also not going over well among Dems. More cautious Dems don’t like the idea of raising taxes.

Instead they seemingly want to raise the income thresholds of those who would have benefits taxed to $500,000 for individuals and a full $1.0 million for couples. This, they feel, would allow them to go back home and tell their constituents that they are not “tax-and-spend liberals” but are watching out for the little people–at least the top 2 percent of them.

The number of Blue Dog Democrats standing in the way at present, and the amount of money needed to pull this together, are both so small that it’s hard to imagine that something won’t be worked out. It is too important to the Obama presidency.

So I am wondering about these Blue Dogs. As noted, six of them (Hagen ([NC], Shaheen [NH], Udall [CO], Begich [AK], Warner [VA], and Bennet [CO]) come from traditionally Red States which Obama either won or in which he did very well, and they personally benefited mightily by his coattails. With the exception of Bennet (who was appointed to replace Senator Ken Salazar after Obama named him to be Secretary of the Interior) none will face reelection for five and a half years so for them any votes they cast now will be long forgotten by 2014. So isn’t it time for them to step up and help win one for the new Gipper?

Delay is the key for Republicans, and the Republic. As the weeks pass, Americans grow to better understand the legislation. The more they learn, the less blind support there will be for the President. It is his falling poll numbers that provide the freedom for Congress to break from the President and do what’s best for the country.

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