Politically Who Needs HCR?

Digby has two good posts on who has the most skin in the political game that is now health care reform. In the first she writes:

Charlie Cook just said something very profound (which is unusual.) Chris Matthews asked whether or not the Democrats would lose the House next year and he said he didn't think so, but that they might lose 20 seats. And then he said this:

But arguably the people they would lose would be the Blue Dogs who aren't voting with [the president] anyway.

That's the thing. It's the Blue Dogs who have most of the Congressional skin in this political game. They are going to need health care reform for their political lives. (They also needed a big stimulus so the economy would be seen as on the rebound in 2010). This is important for the progressive play on health care reform. The Progressive Caucus does not need health care reform politically. They come from safe districts. In fact, what they need is to be seen as fighting for progressive health care reform. They have leverage. And not just on the Blue Dogs. More . . .

The progressives also have leverage on President Obama. He has skin in the game too. He will get the credit or the blame in 2012. From where I sit, the progressives have some great cards to play.

In her second post, Digby writes:

Page then went on to also say that it was very important for Democrats to have a bill because they will all suffer if the party has a 60 vote majority in the Senate, a huge majority in the House and a Democratic president and can't pass this signature bill. Matthews replied, "then they all ought to vote for it."

This is correct, although not in the way Matthews thinks it is. The Democrats will rise and fall as a party on health care. There is no margin in failure for any Democratic politician in this country, including Blue Dogs. And that is why the progressives, the safest Democrats in Washington, should stand firm and say they will not vote for a plan without a public option. If the administration understands that they will have no plan otherwise, they will have to accommodate their base and twist the arms of enough Blue Dogs and Senate Corporate lackeys to pass it.

Correct. The progressives may need some practice in flexing these newfound muscles, but they got them. Now to use them.

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    Yes yes and yes (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Faust on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:07:18 PM EST
    I'm behind this thinking 100%

    come on now, let's not be delusional (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by moderateman on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:11:58 PM EST
    Say health care passes with the public option and the blue dogs help put it over the top.  You're saying that suddenly, their reelection campaigns are easier?  As much as I would love to believe that is true, HCR now becomes the rallying cry for every conservative that wants to cry about the deficit.  Especially for those independents that aren't going to actually get better care (that's 3 years away at the very least), how is that going to sway their vote TOWARD the blue dogs next year?

    We already know progressives are going to vote the democratic ticket and the conservatives are going to vote the republican ticket.  Whoever plays the blame game/credit game better is who's going to win in 2010.  Every blue dog that votes for a public option that costs even a cent more next year than what it would have cost without HCR will get fried by the right.  Of course, it's possible that HCR will be an incredible success next year.  But let's be realistic.  The plan, even if enacted will be heavily front-loaded and require a lot of capital investment.  If it's a good bill, it could save a lot of money in the long run (5-10 years).  But short-term when these guys are up for reelection?  HCR is almost guaranteed to increase the deficit.

    The blue dogs, like it or not, have the right political instinct.  If they want any chance in their red-leaning districts next year, they need to argue that they're more moderate than the guy on the right.  The label they're deathly afraid of is "tax-and-spend liberal".  As we all know, that's a label that's hard to shake and will almost certainly doom them if they get tagged.  That's why they're not supporting a public option.

    Hey, I want good reform like pretty much everyone (heck, I think most on-the-street Republicans want that, too).  But pretending that voting for the bill is win-win for everyone involved is sheer lunacy.  It's a huge political risk for anyone in a competitive race.


    I think you're exactly wrong (5.00 / 4) (#118)
    by BobTinKY on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 07:56:29 AM EST
    Deficit conscious Blue Dogs are going to vote for HCR with no public option, i.e. no effective cost control, but not vote for HCR with a public option?

    If that is the case, and Blue Dogs have said it is, then they are clearly not interested in controlling government spending.  Subsidizing less well off uninsured will be way more expensive in the absence of a public insurance plan than with one.   The Blue Dog's concern is not about the deficit, they are clearly willing to support the bill that will increase government expenditures in this area.  

    Blue Dogs do not want to be seen as having supported a "government run" program, even if all the evidence shows such the public option will enable the government to get it's finacial house in order.  If the deficit were the problem for them they would not support NCR without a public option.

    So count up how many Blue Dogs you need, talk to the most reasonable among them, promise as much support as possible (earmarks for their district etc) for their re-election and assure them of a good federal job in the event they still lose in 2010.  As for the rest of them, good riddance.


    On this matter I don't think (none / 0) (#116)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 06:21:03 AM EST
    an across the board theory works.  The actual vulnerability has to be assessed district by district.  Given the state of mind of Democrats overall and the economy I'd say they are extremely vulnerable to a primary challenger if one pops up.  And everything red leaning is leaning less so since the Bush administration literally nuked the whole country's infrastructures.

    It is silly to think (5.00 / 5) (#2)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:13:05 PM EST
    that the independents who control political destiny in the purple districts have any kind of deep-seated ideological opposition to a public option.  People like that were not going to vote for the Democrat anyway.  Political moderates are going to care about whether good policies get enacted, as opposed to all the screaming about socialism.

    More than that (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:21:21 PM EST
    Blue Dogs needs progressive votes too.

    ESPECIALLY if they are in 52-48 districts.


    Don't they also need republican and moderate (none / 0) (#78)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:09:50 PM EST
    Votes?  Aren't most Blue dogs from conservative districts?  How would it help them to be seen as progressives?  

    The new Congressman from Maryland, Kratovil is from a VERY republican district.  He won't vote for anything progressive because he knows he would lose his seat next year.  Same with the new Blue dog from Southern Virginia.  Both of them have already said they will vote against the bill.  


    Kratovil said (none / 0) (#80)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:18:16 PM EST
    that he supports the public option. No link, but I read so a few days ago. He's on the line no matter what. He can win if he faces nutjob Andy Harris again, though.

    Kratovil's support for a public (5.00 / 4) (#90)
    by Anne on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:33:11 PM EST
    option derives in large part because a good chunk of his constituency is in rural areas that are already underserved by health care providers.  Kratovil may not be the most liberal of Democrats, but he does seem to have the best interests of the people he represents at heart.  

    IIRC both the House (4.66 / 3) (#94)
    by MO Blue on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:42:43 PM EST
    and the Senate bills provide for increased Medicare compensation rates to medical providers in rural areas. It is one of the few things that would roll out in 2010. Not a bad thing to campaign on.

    Exactly. The problem (none / 0) (#38)
    by dk on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:19:13 PM EST
    is that none of the bills, with the exception of HR676, are good policy.  So why does passing any of the "possible" bills going to help?

    I respect your opinion (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:44:42 PM EST
    but we disagree on the policy, as you know.

    It would be a very good idea for the (5.00 / 7) (#8)
    by MO Blue on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:31:13 PM EST
    Dem leadership to let the Progressive Caucus win this one. It would really energize their base.

    I don't know about anyone else but I spent time and more money than I should to get the Dems a majority. Watching the Blue Dogs  and the Republicans come out the victors time after time since then had a demoralizing effect on me. Definitely felt I was getting a very poor return on my investment.

    If the Progressives stand firm now, I can at least hope that it will become a habit.

    Exactly (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:34:18 PM EST
    Off year elections you energize the base.

    Textbook. Carville is referencing that I think.


    There's a reason why Jon Corzine (none / 0) (#12)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:35:16 PM EST
    has an Obama ad in constant rotation. If he's going to beat the property tax grumblers, he needs the EDM to show up.

    He also needs Christie to become Rove (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:36:58 PM EST
    They're doing it to him too.

    Gotta love a Jersey Dem in that sense. They know how to take the gloves off.


    Yup (none / 0) (#15)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:40:13 PM EST
    Corzine had a sucky spring and early summer, but his paid media has been much better in the past few weeks. Though I think they should start calling Christie a fatcat.

    Corzine has not stood out positively as Governor (none / 0) (#97)
    by AX10 on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:00:58 PM EST
    He has to deal with a poor economy which he has little control over.

    Corzine is not corrupt.
    Christie is corrupt.  Corzine's money will ensure that the citizens of New Jersey know exactly who Chris Christie really is.  Considering Jersey is a blue state, Corzine's media campaign combined with the demographic of the state, should be enough to bring him a second term.

    Getting real healthcare reform passed will energize the base for the fall campaigns in both NJ and VA, where Creigh Deeds is in trouble right now.


    O.K. (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by MO Blue on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:26:11 PM EST
    I'm going to reveal my ignorance. What does EDM stand for?

    Electoral Dem majority ? (none / 0) (#89)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:32:48 PM EST
    Thanks (none / 0) (#91)
    by MO Blue on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:35:54 PM EST
    I had pretty much figured out the D & the M but couldn't come up with anything for the E.

    Emerging! (5.00 / 3) (#92)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:40:26 PM EST
    Refers to the new Democratic majority that has been created by the changing demographics of the country.

    Thanks (5.00 / 1) (#96)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:47:02 PM EST
    Old brains are slow with acronyms. . .

    You can say that again (5.00 / 1) (#102)
    by MO Blue on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:13:17 PM EST
    Duh - Dopey Me (none / 0) (#95)
    by MO Blue on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:44:12 PM EST
    That makes sense.

    I've been saying this for weeks (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:33:23 PM EST
    Charlie Cook needs to stop stealing my comments!

    Has anyone done any polling in the Blue Dog (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:59:13 PM EST
    districts and states? Does it show that the Blue Dogs' political lives are indeed in more danger from no HCR at all than from HCR with a strong public option?  Until I see some evidence like that, I have to believe Ben Nelson and Kent Conrad know their states better than Charlie Cook does.

    Cook may be right regarding the House, but I don't see the House as the problem.  Their delay seems solely for the purpose of not wanting to have a lot of distance between them and the Senate - they don't want to go out on a limb and pass something the Senate is going to reject. If the Senate was for a public option, it would get passed in the House - in fact it would have been done last month. The Senate is the roadblock.

    I do hope the progressive caucus in the house makes a stand and derails the thing if they can. But I don't think that would cost Ben Nelson that many votes.

    Now...if the Progressive Caucus in the House (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:04:18 PM EST
    can give a spine transplant to the Progressives in the Senate, we may get somewhere.

    Markos is polling Jim Cooper's district (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:06:09 PM EST
    A great pick for two reasons: one, Cooper is a pernicious SOB who helped kill Clinton's reform in 1993, and two, it's one of the two TN districts that Obama carried. Cooper used to represent a more conservative district before he lost his race to retain Al Gore's Senate seat to an actor.

    That's not a Blue dog district (none / 0) (#84)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:24:41 PM EST
    If Obama carried it!  A democrat rep there has little to worry about.  

    Blue Dogs represent districts that John McCain carried, like the one in Maryland that Kratovil represents.  McCain carried EVERY single precinct.  Ditto the new Blue Dog in Virginia.  Both are overwhelmingly republican districts.  

    Blue Dogs need to worry about keeping republican votes, not the votes of progressives.  Without republican support, there is NO way they keep their seats.  


    You are sort of (5.00 / 5) (#93)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:41:43 PM EST
    making up your own definition of Blue Dog here.  The Blue Dog caucus in the House includes many members who come from solid blue districts, and there are Democrats from moderate or conservative districts who do not caucus with the Blue Dogs.

    Really? Like who? (none / 0) (#105)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:22:39 PM EST
    What Blue dog is from a very democrat district?  

    Honestly, I can't think of any in the Senate.  Or the House, but I admit that I am not familiar with all the representatives.  

    I never said that every democrat rep from a conservative district ALWAYS caucuses with the Blue Dogs.  But it's hard to believe that some of those conservative Blue Dogs come from very liberal states.  Why would such states elect them?  


    Jane Harman (5.00 / 1) (#107)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:39:52 PM EST
    David Scott, among others...

    It is not all that unusual for districts to be represented by someone who is ideologically out of step.  Most voters do not cast their votes on a strictly ideological basis.  And it's a category error to assume that Blue Dogs are necessarily voting exactly as liberal as their districts will allow but no more.

    In the Senate one of the leading Blue Dogs is Tom Carper who comes from a strongly Democratic state.


    What's with the "democrat" this (5.00 / 1) (#108)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:43:22 PM EST
    and "democrat" that? Are you a Republican?

    No! (none / 0) (#110)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:25:21 PM EST
    I am not a republican, but an old democrat from the South.  I keep forgetting that we aren't supposed to say democrat anymore.  Sorry!  I'll try to do better.  

    The House, not the Senate (none / 0) (#106)
    by Cream City on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:34:45 PM EST
    You're talking Senate, others are talking House.  Big difference, again, between purple states and purple districts.

    This List of House Blue Dogs (none / 0) (#114)
    by daring grace on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 03:05:53 AM EST
    Let's be clear that these districts (5.00 / 2) (#63)
    by Cream City on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:46:40 PM EST
    that are "purple" are not necessarily the same as "purple states."  I see some confusion of that in these discussions.  Coming from the most purple state in previous elections (i.e., until 2008 -- and we don't know if it was a fluke or lasting), the state that was closest then, I can attest that it is not a purple state.  It is a state with red districts and with blue districts.

    So I hope that the survey helps to clarify this, to focus effort where it will matter.

    (And I also hope that we may have some focus on the "Yellow Dogs" -- the cowardly "Dems" who aren't fighting.:-)


    Sure (5.00 / 2) (#65)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:49:21 PM EST
    But some. Like say Gene Taylor, are in Red Districts. He lives or dies on his own for the most part. He's like Ben Nelson - being a Dem is a matter of indifference to him. That's why I rarely waste my time with them. They could not care less what any of us think.

    But Jim Cooper is in a district Obama won.


    56-43 (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:52:35 PM EST
    And he acts like it was the other way around. Hell, John Kerry won his district.

    We agree, then, and do you know (none / 0) (#73)
    by Cream City on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:57:00 PM EST
    where DKos is polling?  Truly purple districts?

    Yes (none / 0) (#75)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:58:07 PM EST
    Cooper's for one.

    Why? (none / 0) (#87)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:27:24 PM EST
    Doesn't sound like Cooper is a Blue Dog, sounds like he represents a fairly democrat district.  

    Ben Nelson is a Blue Dog because Nebraska has LOTs of republicans.  He has to care about them, or he loses his job.  That makes him a less than strong democrat, in fact, it makes him nearly a republican, imo.  


    Cooper joined the BD Coalition (none / 0) (#111)
    by Cream City on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:30:15 PM EST
    as you can see here.  It seems to be almost de rigeur for Southern Democrats (read: Reagan Democrats).

    This discussion shows why I want to see some data (5.00 / 1) (#115)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 06:15:18 AM EST
    We can all speculate on what kind of vote on HCR will get individual  Senators and Representatives in trouble with their constituents in 2010. If they support a public option are they going to lose their conservative voters but will be backed up by their progressive voters? Will they get in less trouble by doing nothing at all?

     I know we all have informed opinions, but I don't find much of the speculation very convincing.  I haven't given Kos kudos for a long time, but I'm glad he is trying to get the data.


    Kos is doing it now (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:04:19 PM EST
    Cool - that will be most informative! (none / 0) (#29)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:07:17 PM EST
    Why doesn't this sweeten the deal (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:12:15 PM EST
    for those who oppose a watered down bill? If nothing passes, then republicans are to blame, blue dogs are byebye, and we can get a shot at real reform in the same time frame that crappy reform would start to be implemented. People are going to be hurt anyway by 10%+ unemployment (blame the Bush repubs), as well as double digit increases in insurance premiums and will be demanding change just as much. Especially as the housing market keeps crumbling.
      Why not go for broke and demand a real public option rather than incremental pablum.

    i couldn't agree more. (5.00 / 4) (#36)
    by cpinva on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:17:39 PM EST
    Why not go for broke and demand a real public option rather than incremental pablum.

    unfortunately, this would require a spine transplant (a procedure not currently covered by most health insurance policies) for both the obama administration, and democrats in congress.

    finding a suitable donor is going to be tough as well.


    Good approach (5.00 / 1) (#119)
    by BobTinKY on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 10:04:28 AM EST
    with the phase in periods being discussed we could easily wait  a year or two and speed up the phase in for a real reform bill.

    Not sure how a continued HCR battle plays out in an election year. Do voters reward GOP and blue doggers for NOT doing something?  Whether the dynamic of a continued debate on into 2010 help or hurst the cause is not at all clear to me depsite the conventional wisdom that it will hurt the cause.  


    Of course (none / 0) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:13:03 PM EST
    Gee what a concept (5.00 / 3) (#43)
    by cal1942 on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:26:40 PM EST
    Enacting good public policy can maybe win elections.

    You'd really think that would be a no-brainer.

    Why do Democrats think that the GOP and it's minions go up the wall when HCR is proposed?  The answer is quite obvious to most of us.

    This doesn't help:

    According to the storyline that drives many advocacy groups and Democratic activists - a storyline often reflected in comments on this blog - we are up against a sharply partisan, radically conservative, take-no-prisoners Republican party. They have beaten us twice by energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion and discipline to their agenda. In order to beat them, it is necessary for Democrats to get some backbone, give as good as they get, brook no compromise, drive out Democrats who are interested in "appeasing" the right wing, and enforce a more clearly progressive agenda. The country, finally knowing what we stand for and seeing a sharp contrast, will rally to our side and thereby usher in a new progressive era.

    I think this perspective misreads the American people.

    - Barrack Obama

    The anointed one reinforced the idea that fighting for good legislation in the public interest won't fly with the American people. It's why I ranked him number 8 among the candidates for the nomination.  I don't think that even Bill Richardson was that stupid.

    Well (5.00 / 3) (#48)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:30:04 PM EST
    That was the PPUS.

    We can euthanize that now.


    Are you (5.00 / 4) (#56)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:40:51 PM EST
    sure? It seems that it's been called dead quite a few times only to rise from the dead once again. I think PPUS is a vampire.

    Well (5.00 / 4) (#59)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:43:17 PM EST
    We'll have one term of it.

    But seriously (in that Obama will be tough to beat in 2012 unless we have, wait foe it, 15% unemployment), I thought it was a schtick, and an unproductive one for governing.

    But Obama was handed a mandate and he has squandered it so far.

    He'll be a 2 term President probably, but not an especially effective one unless he wakes up.


    Well (5.00 / 2) (#76)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:59:41 PM EST
    I'm not that sure about 2012. I think a lot of it depends on 2010. If the Dems keep the house and senate in 2010 I think Obama's gone in 2012. He sure doesnt act like he's a shoe in for reelection. If the GOP takes the house and senate in 2010 then I consider it highly likely that Obama gets a second term.

    But BTD you had to realize that when Obama didnt really campaign on issues that there would really not be a mandate for issues. I remember you tried your best to do something about that but to no avail. And I think it's the crux of the problem right now. Since the party was never really united around issues everybody is free to do their own things. I think the blue dogs would not be giving anyone this much trouble with some leadership on issues. Living down here in GA I understand blue dogs better that a lot of these posters. They can be made to get in line but it takes some work.


    Blue dogs (none / 0) (#79)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:16:55 PM EST
    Didn't they get that name because someone said "you can squeeze their neck until their heads turn blue, and they still won't vote with the leadership".  Or was I misinformed?  

    Aren't Blue Dogs usually from republican districts so they have to be pretty moderate to get re elected?  I know that's true for the new Blue Dog from Maryland.  He's in one of those rare parts of Maryland where they always vote republican.  


    A lot of (5.00 / 2) (#85)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:24:52 PM EST
    blue dogs are from swing districts hence the wave analysis. I dont know where they got their name from. There are a few that are in Republican districts. If you can convince the voters that you have good ideas the blue dogs will fall in place. The problem that Obama has is that he never did that and now he's got problems with both the blue dogs and the progressives.

    This ain't your grandma's political strategy? (none / 0) (#49)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:31:32 PM EST
    My grandma had (5.00 / 3) (#57)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:40:57 PM EST
    FDR (not really, my grandmas were in Cuba and Spain. They had the Spanish Civil War.)

    Too funny, my grandpa was also in (none / 0) (#99)
    by suzieg on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:09:04 PM EST
    Spain and Cuba.

    Explains alot (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:37:09 PM EST
    Obama, the fly in the ointment. . .

    Can work both ways (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by mmc9431 on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:30:53 PM EST
    The purple districts can also change to the better. Kirk is a Republican rep here in Illinois. His district contains a fair portion of the northshore.(Not hardcore Republican territory). A vote against HCR could be the issue that finally unseats him. So we may win a few and lose a few. I would think that when the dust settles we'd still have a majority. And maybe a better party.

    Or we could lose (none / 0) (#109)
    by Cream City on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:45:48 PM EST
    some Dems who aren't Blue Dogs but are in swing districts and in trouble for other reasons, such as Kagen.  And with the govship in his state just thrown open for the first non-incumbent in almost 30 years, another -- Kind -- is being talked about as coming back home from the House, as it were.  

    There can be difficult districts to categorize in terms used nationally, as some are not areas where Dems ever were quite Dems; think of them as more like Minnesota's Farmer-Labor Party, old Populists.

    There are no big tents.  Just camps of lots of tents.


    Dem verses Rep (5.00 / 1) (#117)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 06:55:13 AM EST
    Blue Dogs come from districts that "lean" Republican. They aren't usually in hardcore Republican districts. People that lean towards the Republican party tend to be moderates. The Republican party platform and image, doesn't allow for much room for moderation.

    Here in Illinois, they keep rolling out Oberweis to run at every chance. He's a hardline Republican. They lose. (Or the other debacle Alan Keyes)! This same thing has happened with primary challenges throughout the country.

    I'm not convinced that a lot of these Democrat's have to run from their party platform. I think some just prefer to hide in the middle so they can blame everyone else for the problems facing the country.

    i don't know that i (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:26:33 PM EST
    necessarily agree with this. cook, BTD and digby operate from what i see as a fatally flawed assumption: the "blue dogs" only just barely represent their districts.

    what tangible evidence is there to support this assertion? if they (the blue dogs) didn't actually represent their constituent's wishes and "values", they most likely wouldn't have been elected (or re-elected) to begin with.

    therefore, the only logical conclusion is that they stand little chance of defeat in 2010, either in the primaries (should the dems present an alternative, "progressive" candidate), or the nov. elections.

    this is the same flawed assumption underlying questions about certain whacked out republican reps and sens: surely, their constituents must sooooooooooo embarrased! no, they aren't, because they are as whacked out as their reps and sens are, that's why they elected them to begin with.

    relying on the supposed concerns of the "actually smarter" constituents, to deliver those districts into progressive dem hands, is a fatal strategy.

    just my opinion.

    Congressional elections are waves (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:28:33 PM EST
    the most vulnerable go first.

    That would be Blue Dogs.


    I agree! (none / 0) (#81)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:19:06 PM EST
    If Blue Dogs go too far to the left, they're toast in their conservative districts.  They are very well aware of that.  Republicans would love it if they went more to the left.  They're panting over getting those districts back.  

    They don;t vote with us anyway and are not all (none / 0) (#120)
    by BobTinKY on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 10:08:12 AM EST
    necessary for a majority.  The role of Blue Dogs, it seems, is to hold back progressive legislation.  Well, that's the GOP's job so let half of them lose.

    The progressives voted for them to get (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by sallywally on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:34:44 PM EST
    a majority in Congress. They may not have to vote for them again.

    Why (none / 0) (#5)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:27:53 PM EST
    do the blue dogs need HCR?

    Let's see (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:30:12 PM EST
    Even in a Blue dog district, there are some progressives. 10%? 20%? they will get punished if they are seen as thwarting health care reform.

    Moreover, anti-HCR voters aren't voting for them anyway.

    What part of the argument did you not understand?


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:34:38 PM EST
    you also have to buy into the thesis that the Dems will sit home and won't do the lesser of two evils voting. Frankly, the plan as it is written now won't help blue dogs one iota and unless they start something that's effective now instead of four years from now it's not going to help or hurt them is the way I see it.

    I see (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:36:00 PM EST
    You're not someone who thinks the base needs to be energized in an off year election?

    You go with that.


    Nope (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:41:18 PM EST
    Here's a few things that everybody seems to be missing from the healtcare debate:

    Nothing is going to be instated now so premiums are going to continue to rise and the situation is going to get worse all the while the congresscritters are going to tout having passed a bill? Your general voter is going to think that the reason things are getting worse is because a bill was passed.

    Now I understand the progressive caucus standing up and good for them. I'm glad to finally see that they're tired of being rolled under the bus by Obama.


    Weiner mentions the bus (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by nycstray on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:48:55 PM EST
    on World News tonight:

    Weiner indicated that some in the president's own party feel betrayed after supporting him on health care reform and then taking lumps from constituents.

    "Some of us who have gotten roughed up pretty good at town hall meetings and stuck in there because we believe in this, now kind of feel like we have a tire track on our chest where the bus that rolled over us is," Weiner said.

    Here's what you are missing (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:49:13 PM EST
    Passing the bill will have a significant political effect in 2010.

    Honestly, I can't talk politics with some of you.


    I understand (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:53:45 PM EST
    that point but if it has no effect on people's premiums is what I'm saying. The healthcare/insurance situation is going to be the same whether the bill is passed or not.

    Look at it this way: if unemployment is 15% next fall who's going to care whether a stimulus was passed or not?

    You seem to think that simply passing the legistation will be enough. You and I are just going to have to agree to disagree on that point.


    If unemployment is 15% (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:05:43 PM EST
    there is nothing anyone can do. Passing single payer won't save any pol.

    this is what I mean about finding it difficult to discuss politics with you now.


    But passing single payer (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by dk on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:14:48 PM EST
    will reduce healthcare expenditure by nearly 50% per capita, if you take the figures from all of the countries who have such policies.

    The substance of these policies actually do matter.


    Excuse me (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:20:15 PM EST
    It won't matter at all in 2010 is unemployment is 15%.

    I like talking policy. And I like talking politics.  A lots of the time they intersect.

    But sometimes not at all.


    My point is that there will be (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by dk on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:27:35 PM EST
    more money to spend if we spend less on healthcare (which will not happen under any of the bills currently under consideration except for HR676).  

    If unmployment is 15%, at least the money saved from spending on healthcare could be spent on increased unemployment insurance, job creation programs etc.

    Throwing policy out the window to pursue short term political gain, IMO, isn't the way to go.  But YMMV.


    the election is in 14 months (none / 0) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:28:47 PM EST
    and you posited 15% unemployment next year.

    Sorry, you are simply not making much sense here.


    You're (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:32:09 PM EST
    obviously missing my point. You want them to campaign on a bill that isn't helping anybody. Obviously you think that passing the bill is enough. I dont. Like I said we'll just have to agree to disagree. Passing a bill that doesn't go into effect for 4 years helps how?

    You utterly misunderstand my post (3.00 / 2) (#54)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:38:04 PM EST
    Which is not surprising anymore.

    I do not know what happened to you. This last election cycle has deprived you of the ability to discuss politics in a manner that is productive.

    You used to be incredibly sharp about politics. what happened?


    Here's the thing: (5.00 / 2) (#58)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:43:03 PM EST
    Healthcare is something that is very personal to me. Something that I have been fighting with for quite a while. It's something that you seem to detach yourself from. That's probably the difference.

    Perhaps (none / 0) (#62)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:44:55 PM EST
    But it seems to me that it is harming your ability to be an astute political analyst, and you really were an excellent one before imo.

    Maybe again when health care is not in the mix.


    Yes (5.00 / 3) (#66)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:50:19 PM EST
    I am seeing healthcare from a strictly personal level much like Jeralyn is here. If my premiums dont go down or I dont see marked improvement before the 2010 election then why should I show up to vote for X? I understand where you're coming from on this but I just don't happen to agree. The politics really just dont amount to much for me in this area unless they are able to bring about effective change.

    If unemployment is 15%, and (5.00 / 8) (#53)
    by Anne on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:37:43 PM EST
    people who used to have health coverage don't because they don't have jobs, and they can't afford the COBRA payments, just exactly how thrilled do you think they will be when they can't get any help from this great reform plan that was passed to much crowing and back-slapping because it isn't going to start until 2013 and won't be fully rolled-out for four more years after that?

    Health care is not a game to people who can't afford access to it, or who have spent years paying higher and higher premiums for less and less coverage and wonder how much longer they can afford to keep paying.

    As far as I'm concerned, every member of the House and Senate has something on the line, regardless of whether they are in safe districts or not.  The political fortunes of those who vote for reform are at stake along with the fortunes of those who vote against it, because there is no victory in making people wait somewhere from three to seven years for relief from the predatory insurance companies.

    I know for a lot of people this is an adrenaline-filled political thrill ride; there's a giddy breathlessness that has entered the discussion that is a little nauseating, really, when considering the real people and real lives that are at stake. These real people have become incidental to a political calculation that seems to now be about "saving" a president whose breathtaking lack of leadership is one reason we are where we are.  What is it we are saving him for - so he can dither and fiddle and negotiate and compromise and concede away the next issue that matters to us?

    If you think these people won't exact a price in 2010 or 2012, I think you're dreaming.


    That won't matter (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:39:22 PM EST
    Do you have any conception how bad things will be if unemployment is 15%?

    Doesn't matter WHAT you do, the governing party will be wiped out.


    Ok, so when the economy is (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by dk on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:52:04 PM EST
    really bad, the majority party loses.  When the economy is going well, the majority party generally reps the rewards.  It's the economy, stupid.

    But that just undermines your argument the this health care bill has political importance.  I can see how a health care bill that would improve the economy, such as HR676, could help.  But none of the bills under serious consideration will have any meaningfully positive impact on the economy.  


    Not following me then (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:57:11 PM EST
    Extreme economic conditions create an almost perfect correlation for political results. 1932. 2008.

    But otherwise, it is one, the most important one, but one of many factors.

    Did you see Bill Clinton at Netroots Nation? He gave the simplest and most comprehensible statement of politics you could have, If you have not seen or read the transcript, please do.


    I think I'm following you. (none / 0) (#77)
    by dk on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:01:56 PM EST
    I just don't agree with you. Or, more specifically, I think you are overestimating the political points to be scored from passing down a watered down healthcare bill.  

    I don't like what they are proposing (none / 0) (#21)
    by Teresa on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:51:42 PM EST
    either but I'd rather have not so great health care reform than none at all (no public option, even a crappy one). I hate to settle for "well, it's a start" but I guess that's what I have to do.

    If they dump the bad proposal for a worse one, they can all kiss my rear because I have no hope, zero, that we will ever have any reform that benefits me or people like me. If not now, when? Not in our lifetime. I don't care if the blue dogs lose - how can we be any worse off? We can get mediocre from a little less of a majority just as easily as we are getting it now.


    Well (5.00 / 3) (#23)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:58:23 PM EST
    I'm living this issue and all the problems associated with it everyday so I'm not sure crappy reform is better than no reform.

    Of course, I'm of the mindset that the country is going to end up with a single payer program before too long simply because we can't be competetive in the world economy with out it.


    The 10 - 20% probably never voted (none / 0) (#17)
    by The Last Whimzy on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:45:05 PM EST
    for the bluedog anyway.  so it stands to reason they believe they can get re-elected by capturing what, in their district, passes for and is called the middle.

    They voted for the Republican? (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 07:48:06 PM EST
    There is no talking politics with some of you.

    Arrggggghhh!! (none / 0) (#42)
    by The Last Whimzy on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:26:09 PM EST
    No.  If I'm right they probably didn't vote at all.

    But i'm not sure I'm right.  As someone else says below, I'm not going to say I know a district any better than the politician who answers to that district.


    Um you are discussing (none / 0) (#46)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:27:38 PM EST
    some other 20% then.

    I was talking about the electorate.


    Some of us don't think you understand (none / 0) (#101)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:12:55 PM EST
    What a Blue Dog is.  

    Cook thinks they have the most to lose because if they vote for something that their electorate thinks is too progressive, they lose their seat in 2010.  If they vote for a public option, the republicans in their districts won't vote for them and they lose their jobs.  It's as simple as that.  

    You don't seem to understand that Blue Dogs represent more conservative, often republican, districts.  


    I think the progressives voted for the Dem (none / 0) (#98)
    by sallywally on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:03:55 PM EST
    they had, in order to get a Dem majority in Congress. Which did succeed.

    Wasn't that a Rahm strategy? Getting Blue Dog Dems to run?

    Not sure if the Howard Dean strategy in its broader context (pay attention to these folks and then with a dialogue open, talk progressive? He said the Dems had paid no attention at all to them in how long? Decades?) could conceivably end up in time with viable progressive Dems in some of these states....?

    But of course that strategy has gone under the bus.


    Of course (none / 0) (#103)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:17:20 PM EST
    Even a Blue Dog democrat is better in a republican district than a republican!  That helps the majority to grow, but it doesn't mean that the leadership can always get them to vote with the democrats.  Sometimes Blue Dogs feel they can't vote with the leadership because they know it means they will lose their jobs.  

    Usually this can be worked out.  House and Senate leadership can allow some of those Blue Dogs to vote against a Bill, knowing that they have enough votes to pass it without them.  Happens ALL the time, on every political level, from the Senate to the local School Board.  It's a win-win for the  leadership and the representative.  The Blue Dogs can go back to their constituents and tell them they voted against a progressive bill, while being happy that it passed without them.  


    the part where you failed to explain (none / 0) (#32)
    by cpinva on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:13:48 PM EST
    What part of the argument did you not understand?

    how all the "blue dogs" are vulnerable in their districts, if they fail to support HCR. again, if they were that vulnerable, the odds are they wouldn't have been elected to begin with. if anyone's vulnerable, it's an al franken, elected by a mere what, 312 votes?


    C-C-C-C-Catch the wave (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:15:50 PM EST
    Incumbents in marginal seats become vulnerable when the majority party weakens nationally.

    But I think that's the (none / 0) (#35)
    by dk on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:17:03 PM EST
    point.  Al Franken won by a few hundred votes.  Isn't that a "marginal" seat?

    He's got 5 years to build a record (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:20:08 PM EST
    and so the political climate right now is not of much significance to him.

    I'm thinking of people like Suzanne Kosmas and several of the new members in Virginia who would suffer greatly from a depressed base turnout.


    Interestingly enough (none / 0) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:18:59 PM EST
    Franken is not up for election again until 2014.

    Now maybe I am being too rough on some of you, but for Gawds' sake, did you NOT know that?


    For Gawd's sake, Blue Dogs get (5.00 / 2) (#60)
    by Anne on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:44:26 PM EST
    elected because they are conservative Democrats, whose constituent base approves of their conservative stance - getting re-elected requires them to oppose those elements of the proposals that liberals and progressives support.

    If this were not so, how on earth did they get elected?


    Interestingly (5.00 / 6) (#64)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:46:44 PM EST
    Many of them were elected in Democratic wave years.

    Like in 1994 and 2002, it is the blue dogs who will get wiped out in a tough year for Dems.

    It is paradoxical I know, but nobody is more dependent on the good fortunes of the Party as a whole than Blue Dogs.


    The thing about wave years (none / 0) (#67)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:50:45 PM EST
    is that they tend to shake loose people who thought they were safe. Ask Jeb Bradley.

    They got elected as Dems (5.00 / 2) (#71)
    by Cream City on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:56:04 PM EST
    and that's all that a lot of voters do -- they look for the Dem on the ballot.  It may not be the Blue Dogs' base of conservatives, but the less mindful voters may have given the BDs the margin needed.  That's the possibility in some districts that could make this strategy work, anyway.

    And, of course, some got picked to run by the Dem Party and on the Dem ballot, even though these idjits didn't support the party platform.  They got Dem Party funding.  So the thing to do is for the party's leader to pull back on that support and say so now.  Obama is the party's leader, and if he gets on the phone. . . .  That is, if he is tougher on these "Dems" and threatens disunity than he is on some Republicans with the post-partisan unity thang.  


    Because dumb-ass progressives like me (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by magster on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:56:31 PM EST
    figure a bad Democrat is better than a Republican.

    But that depends (none / 0) (#70)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:54:45 PM EST
    on what percentage they got elected over the repub. If progressive voters in their districts sit out the next election because of hcr failure, they well could lose. Hades! it's a deal made by the devil for them. . .

    Of course I knew (none / 0) (#41)
    by dk on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:22:40 PM EST
    that.  I think it's a general point.  The assumption you are making is that most blue dogs win elections by very small margins, and most non-blue dogs win by very big margins.  Is that even true?  And if it is true, who's to say that the blue dogs win is exactly because they do things like block HR676 and other meaningful healthcare reform?

    The assumption is (none / 0) (#44)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 08:27:08 PM EST
    that "GENERALLY" Blue Dogs run in tougher districts than Progressives.

    The assumption is correct.

    Minnesota of course swings. Coleman was the incumbent and Franken knocked him off.



    Voters have VERY short memories (none / 0) (#104)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:18:33 PM EST
    Al Franken knows that.  He doesn't have to run again for 5 years!  an eternity in politics.

    Huh? Blue Dogs represent republican districts! (none / 0) (#82)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:21:05 PM EST
    They don't care about the 10% progressives!  They care about the 80% who are republicans or moderate democrats!  

    Political analysis FAIL (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:23:35 PM EST
    List of Blue Dogs (none / 0) (#112)
    by BrassTacks on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:37:27 PM EST
    The accompanying map with is totally wrong, but the list of Blue dogs in the House is here.

    Still looking for the list for the Senate.  

    We need to target these people, if they represent us, so that they know they have voters in their district who care.  

    Better to see their own list (none / 0) (#113)
    by Cream City on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:58:35 PM EST
    as the numbers and names appear to vary from their own list at their website, linked above in a reply to you.  And do attend to their self-definition re the House.

    The key for Dems in 2010 (none / 0) (#121)
    by BobTinKY on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 10:17:46 AM EST
    is to maintain a majority in the House.  I think it would be actually better for progressives if they did so while shedding as many Blue Dogs as possible.  Pelosi would not have to waste, and it is a waste, any time catering to them.

    I am curious to know if there are any republicans in democratic districts left?  Maybe in NY, PA?  I am immensely proud that my native New England has pretty much thrown them all out.  Now for Gregg, Leiberman and those two oh so sensible ladies in Maine.

    The Blue Dogs generally come (none / 0) (#122)
    by weltec2 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 07:57:15 PM EST
    from conservative districts. Many won their elections from Repugs for the first time in those districts. Their constituents equate single payer or even public option to socialism. They have no incentive to vote with real dems.