Monday, August 3, 2009

The Baucus Way or No Way

Let's just say for the sake of conversation that Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) would in fact vote with the Democratic party when it counted, what would those votes be? Human rights? Protecting the middle and lower classes? Health care?

Apparently health care isn't one of those essential votes Minnick will side with his party on because he shows absolutely no sign of voting with the majority of Democrats on reforming health care, regardless of who writes the bill and how "fiscally conservative" the reform turns out to be.

The Washington Post recently asked a handful of congressmen and other experts, including Rep. Walt Minnick (listed as a Democratic member from Idaho and a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, what the biggest obstacle to health care reform has been and how it might be overcome. Minnick responded with the following:
"Most people agree on the most important points of health-care reform: We must reduce costs. We should not increase our deficit. All Americans should have secure, stable coverage. But a lack of public confidence in the congressional process has proven a massive obstacle. While it's true that members from both sides have worked together diligently, occasional public disputes have weakened public confidence in our ability to craft an effective plan.

"That's unfortunate, because most members of Congress want bipartisan, collaborative consensus on reform. I am encouraged by the work of the Senate Finance Committee and Chairman Max Baucus, who understands what we in
Western politics have learned the hard way: No one wins when everyone fights.

"Whether it is natural resources, water, economic development or a major undertaking like health-care reform, the Western way is to bring people together, look for agreement and move toward a solution. That is happening in Congress, but it must be more visible to overcome the toughest obstacle of all in our effort to reform health care: Convincing Americans they can trust us to do this right."
Chairman Max Baucus? You mean Minnick and supposedly other Blue Dog Coalition members are supporting the Baucus plan for health care reform? Interesting, given that progressives aren't supporting Baucus or his plan and organizations like Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee are paying for adds targeting Baucus in his home state. And where in Minnick's response does he suggest a way to pass meaningful health care reform? Maybe I missed it, but it sounds to me like Minnick is suggesting it is the Baucus way or no way. It seems the Blue Dog Coalition has become entangled with the party of 'no.'

In addition to what Rep. Minnick had to say to the Post, he was recently interviewed on "Special Report With Bret Baier" where he had the following to say about health care reform and why the Blue Dog Coalition was not supporting the Democrats legislation prior to the August recess:
WALT MINNICK, (D-ID): Well, we all try to represent what we think is best for the country. And I would say the majority of the Blue Dogs think that this bill is not the best bill we can get, and we'd like to keep trying, would like to talk to our constituents, hopefully come up with a bill closer to what the Senate Finance Committee is considering.
This interview from July 29, 2009 was not Minnick's first appearance on Fox News and it certainly won't be his last. His comments to Fox News once again point to the Baucus plan as being the one and only plan. Apparently he doesn't mean the Blue Dogs would like to work on a new bill or a better bill, truly one that would be in some way driven by constituent input, they just want to support the Baucus bill.

Just so we can all be clear, Minnick will only vote in favor of health care reform, a purely Democratic cause, if it resembles the plan of Chairman Baucus who the Democrats don't agree with? I'd love to ask Rep. Minnick why he feels so strongly about this and when exactly he will vote with the Democrats when it matters, but I'm afraid he'd just dodge the question or better yet, run away.

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