Now THIS is a Line In The Sand

Wow. For the first time since I’ve been closely following happenings at the national policy level, progressives threw down the gauntlet. I guess they had done so over Iraq in ’07, but it was clear from pretty early on that the votes just weren’t there to end the war in the face of a dangerously intransigent President. But things are different now. Today, House progressives stated in no uncertain terms that they weren’t gonna roll over on health care, not this time. And they have the leverage to back up their stance if they stick together.

Bronwyn and I attended the press conference today along with about 50-75 or so other activists. At this press conference, Progressive Caucus, Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus and Asian-American Caucus leaders announced that they firmly stand against the Waxman “deal” with Blue Dogs on the Energy & Commerce Committee, and will not vote for any bill without a robust public option. Between them, these caucuses have over 100 members and can easily block a bill assuming Republicans almost unanimously oppose. Furthermore, 57 members signed off a letter to House leadership (Pelosi, Rangel, Waxman and Miller, all of whom are current or former members of the Progressive Caucus) expressing these principles in no uncertain terms. This is EXACTLY what is needed to check the power of the Blue Dogs and remind them that they cannot hold a Democratic agenda hostage. A hearty thank you to all of these strong progressives willing to stand with the American people over the moneyed special interests. Now let’s see them follow through.

Here is the letter in full:

July 30, 2009
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Honorable Henry Waxman
The Honorable Charles Rangel
The Honorable George Miller

Dear Madam Speaker, Chairman Waxman, Chairman Rangel, and Chairman Miller:

We write to voice our opposition to the negotiated health care reform agreement under consideration in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members ofthe Committee as fundamentally unacceptable. This agreement is not a step forward toward a good health care bill, but a large step backwards. Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates -not negotiated rates -is unacceptable. It would ensure higher costs for the public plan, and would do nothing to achieve the goal of”keeping insurance companies honest,” and their rates down.

To offset the increased costs incurred by adopting the provisions advocated by the Blue Dog members ofthe Committee, the agreement would reduce subsidies ~o low-and middle-income families, requiring them to pay a larger portion oftheir income for insurance premiums, and would impose an unfunded mandate on the states to pay for what were to have been Federal costs.

In short, this agreement will result in the public, both as insurance purchasers and as taxpayers, paying ever higher rates to insurance companies.

We simply cannot vote for such a proposal.


Lynn Woolsey (CA)
Raul Grijalva (AZ)
Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI)
Jerry Nadler (NY)
Phil Hare (IL)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA)
Keith Ellison (MN)
Earl Blumenauer (OR)
Mel Watt (NC)
Donna Edwards (MD)
John Olver (MA)
Dennis Kucinich (OH)
Laura Richardson (CA)
Maxine Waters (CA)
John Conyers (MI)
Judy Chu (CA)
Maurice Hinchey (NY)
Hank Johnson (GA)
Diane Watson (CA)
Jackie Speier (CA)
Bill Pascrell (NJ)
Lloyd Doggett (TX)
Marcy Kaptur (OH)
Mazie Hirono (HI)
Bob Filner (CA)
Linda Sanchez (CA)
Marcia Fudge (OH)
Barbara Lee (CA)
Andre Carson (IN)
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
Michael Honda (CA)
Jim McDermott (WA)
William Lacy Clay (MO)
Jim McGovern (MA)
Yvette Clarke (NY)
Eric Massa (NY)
Chellie Pingree (ME)
Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL)
Elijah Cummings (MD)
Bennie Thompson (MS)
Gwen Moore (WI)
Donald Payne (NJ)
Fortney “Pete” Stark (CA)
Ed Towns (NY)
Corrine Brown (FL)
Alcee Hastings (FL)
Nydia Velazquez (NY)
Luis Gutierrez (IL)
Grace Napolitano (CA)
Albio Sires (NJ)
John Tierney (MA)
Mike Capuano (MA)
Chaka Fattah (PA)
Jose Serrano (NY)
Sam Farr (CA)
Bill Delahunt (MA)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX)

UPDATE: We have attracted a troll in the comments, and we are not alone. Right wing smears through blog comments, astroturf sites and chain e-mails are spreading like wildfire and will continue to do so until health care reform is enacted into law. The Campaign for America’s Future has been collecting a list of all of these distort and distract entities, and you can find that list at


8 comments so far

  1. I suspect that most of Congress has actually read much less understands what is contained in the bill. Nor have you. What you should be demanding is that all of Congress:
    1 – Read and understand what they are voting on
    2 – Understand the impact on taxes, deficits and long term costs
    3 – Understand the impact on jobs and job creation
    4 – Understand the impact on the US leading position on development of medical breakthroughs
    5 – How many people will actually be newly covered by the bill and who and how many won’t
    6- The change in principles – for example from economic rationing to end of life rationing
    7 – The ability of the Federal Government to go directly into your bank accounts

    There are many good things in the various bills. There are also changes that will have intended and unintended consequences. We must understand what path we are choosing. Follow the healthcare debate and other health care facts at

    • jeremydc on

      How exciting! Our first real live troll!

      How do I know you’re a troll, sir or madam? Besides using language that’s obviously intended to confuse and distort, your closing paragraph sounds awfully familiar:

      Final caption:The plans for health care reform being discussed in Washington will have very real consequences for all of us. Let’s make sure we know what we’re getting into. To learn more about what current plans for government-run health care mean to you and your family, you’ve come to the right place.

      Yup, that’s my post from a couple months ago warning about health care fearmongering. I quoted a leaked transcript of a Blue Cross Blue Shield ad. I do like the crisper wording in your recent iteration which has obviously come from months of focus group testing, but the message remains identical.

      Look, I understand you have a lot of exorbitant profits to protect, but you’ve come to the wrong place to do so. We see through your distortions. We know that you know that for health care reform, the path to defeat is through delay. So let’s “take a step back and think about the consequences”? Let me be the first on this site, and hopefully not the last, to call BULLSHIT.

      Actually, we DO know about the consequences, as well as those of inaction. We know that health reform will be at least deficit neutral in the medium term and significantly cut costs in the long term. We know that U.S. companies have a serious competitive disadvantage over foreign employers because they have to pay thousands of dollars on top of salary for employee health coverage. We know that corporate R&D expenditures are not part of the 30% of health insurance company budgets consisting of administrative costs, marketing and profits. We know that at least 46 million Americans do not have health insurance, and millions more are a mere serious illness from bankruptcy due to the junk insurance your industry provides. That is truly outrageous in a country this well-off.

      But the talk of rationing is what really pisses me off. How can you possibly make that argument with a straight face, while your industry refuses to cover pre-existing conditions and denies valid medical claims all the time just to protect its bottom line? In fact, one of the reasons government health programs like Medicare are so efficient is because they clearly delineate what they do and do not cover. So, nice try.

      Make no mistake, troll. You are the enemy. We have nothing to talk about. And the sooner the industry you protect ceases to continue preying upon the American people, the better off American society will be.

    • Bronwyn on

      Oh, and by the way–you’re going to make profits anyway. Do you have to totally gouge all of us? It’s really your greed that has put you in this position–you’ve taken so much, with so much callous cruelty, that you’ve truly angered the American people–across the ideological, age, and even economic spectrum. That’s the problem with gouging everyone from poor immigrants to established, solidly middle-class Americans.

      If this sweet deal is ended for you, you only have your unlimited greed to blame.

  2. Bronwyn on

    Nice catch, Jeremy. And you’re right, the insurance company lobbyists have nicely refined their talking points. I especially like the addition of “There are many good things in the various bills,” to “There are also changes that will have intended and unintended consequences.” It makes them sound fair and balanced. Nicely calculated to put people off guard.

  3. Alex Lawson on

    Here is a great Think Progress piece on the lobbyist coordination of the astro-turf anti-reform groups

    • Bronwyn on

      Nice. Anything to disrupt reasoned discourse and civic-mindedness.

      Same old, same old. The propaganda masters of the right have been doing this since the early 80s. Now if elected Dems would just wake up to that fact and stop cowering in fear of them, we’d be doing great. I hope Tom Perriello’s response to those faked anti-climate change legislation letters starts a trend among legislators to blow the cover off these astroturfing tactics.

      • jeremydc on

        I think you’re onto something mentioning Tom Perriello. He is a perfect example of this new generation of fighting Democrats not willing to cower before the mighty smear and fear machine.

        And to me, his age is an extremely important factor – he is only 34, not much older than me. He had just turned 18 when Bill Clinton was first elected, meaning he was likely not paying close attention to politics during the Reagan and Lee Atwater days, let alone the turmoil of the ’60s and ’70s. His experience of the GOP is that of an arrogant and self-entitled political entity, devoid of governing capacity and always quick to point the finger in the nastiest manner possible. He has known nothing of the halcyon days when Republicans worked honestly, side by side with Democrats in a bipartisan Washington.

        Thus, despite having no political experience and running against a long-time incumbent in a red leaning district, Perriello managed to pull off a stunning upset by running a campaign based explicitly on “conviction politics“. He wasn’t taking any crap from notorious smear artist Virgil Goode.

        Perriello is an excellent model for Democratic candidates running in traditionally conservative, but relatively poor areas.

  4. Chris on

    I hope Tom Perriello’s response to those faked anti-climate change legislation letters starts a trend among legislators to blow the cover off these astroturfing tactics.

    I think most people are aware of the fake aspects of certain activism, but there is a feeling that even if it’s charade both sides are playing the game. It’s neither true that generating more phone call equals votes or that both sides astroturf, but it’s how people see it.

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