Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tell Earl Blumenauer: Keep Your Word, Vote “No” on a Bill Without a Public Option

By FireDogLake's Jane Hamsher FDL

Today, House leadership is talking about using “sidecar reconciliation” to make the fix to the Cadillac tax that the White House promised the unions. But they evidently have no plan to put in a public option to pay for it — they plan to raise taxes instead to recoup the $60 billion that will cost. Whereas the public option (or expanding Medicare) actually saves money, they plan to lift the cap on the Medicare tax and violate the President’s pledge not to raise taxes once again. Just so they can honor back-room deals with Aetna and PhRMA.

This despite the fact that a public option makes the bill 26% more popular with independents and Republicans in a swing district.

Well, 65 members of Congress pledged to vote against any bill without a public option. Now that only 51 votes are needed in the Senate to pass one, that “60 votes” excuse doesn’t fly any more. They need to honor that pledge.

And Earl Blumenauer should remember he made it.

In July, Blumenauer signed a letter saying he wouldn’t vote for any health care bill that doesn’t have a public option. But he subsequently told the New York Times that he really didn’t mean it, and he might just vote for an Aetna/PhRMA giveaway anyway. (I guess Amgen, Eli Lily and Pfizer got their money’s worth.)
Does this mean nothing to him?

This appears to be a pattern with Blumenauer: in 2007, he signed a letter saying he’d vote against any war funding bill that did not contain troop withdrawal provisions. But when the supplemental came up for a vote this year to continue funding for the wars and it didn’t have any, he voted for it anyway. It creates the public perception that ending the war by cutting off funding is apparently only something to be demagogued when Republicans are in office and there’s no hope of actually following through on it.

Blumenauer was the first Democrat to step forward and smack Alan Grayson down for speaking bluntly about Republicans:

“You cringe,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon and an unabashed liberal but also a buttoned-down gentleman. “We’re at risk of having a self-reinforcing corrosive process that drives reasonable people away.” He added: “It breaks my heart.”

He’s from a district with a D+19 PVI. He doesn’t do this to please conservative constituents, he does it because he likes to.

Last year the online community raised $430,000 in gratitude for members of Congress who pledged to vote against any bill without a public option. Earl Blumenauer received $3,230 of that.

Democrats need to restore public confidence that they actually mean what they say, and their actions need to match up with their words. Call Earl Blumenauer’s office and ask him if he intends to honor his pledge and vote no on any health care bill that does not have a public option. Let him know that in our recent poll, 90% thought he should return the money if he doesn’t (or perhaps, as some have suggested, give it to Hatian relief). And that 76% of those responding to another survey (10,814) think that Democrats who go back on their pledge should be primaried.

Earl Blumenauer: DC Office: (202) 225-4811, OR Office: (503) 231-2300. Let us know what you hear.