Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Markey's vote

Seth writes about Betsey Markey's "Nay" vote on the House healthcare bill,
It does not do enough to cut health care costs? She wanted the bill to be more invasive into the private insurance market? I find this a tad disingenuous. I seriously doubt that a bill with a more robust public option would have won her support.

But this is the same sort of thing Joe Lieberman keeps saying -- he won't support the current reform because of its costs. Never mind that health care costs are projected to be even greater if the reform fails.

I suppose it's a convenient rationalization. Voters get the idea of things costing too much, and a member of Congress can sound somewhat responsible for rejecting something that's too expensive. But it's not, you know, true.

He's exactly right and it's a little disheartening when Democrats who should know better buy into GOP frames on major issues. That said I feel fairly confident that Markey personally supports healthcare reform and quite possibly would have been fine with a more robust public option - but she'd never state that publicly.

Markey is a first term Congresswoman in a district that, while evolving, is still right of center. An incumbent is at their most vulnerable in the first re-election campaign and I'd bet dollars to donuts that Nancy Pelosi and Markey long ago agreed that Markey would not vote in favor of healthcare reform. That's politics, truth doesn't really matter - it's all about positioning Markey as a moderate for her electorate. In the end the bill passed so Markey's "no" vote was, as a policy matter, substantively inconsequential. As a political matter she's built her moderate credentials.

On balance I'm quite fine with this sort of thing so long as the offending politician is really in a purple or red district. You'll never hear me bashing John Salazar even though his voting record leaves a lot to be desired. When he's needed Salazar is usually there. If positioning himself with the Blue Dogs helps him get re-elected I hold my nose and go along. The flip side of Salazar though is Joe Lieberman. The Last Honest Man is a Senator from a deep blue state who's voting record continues to tack farther and farther to the right. There's no reason that progressives should tolerate that type of behavior.

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