The progressive caucus is being laughed at by Nancy Pelosi, who joined with Rahm Emanuel to give the Blue Dogs everything they want:
Sensing that the Blue Dogs had dug in for a prolonged fight, Pelosi and Emanuel gave in to most demands in order to get the legislation moving again. They essentially decided that it was better to pick a fight with their liberal flank, where Pelosi remains popular and where loyalty to Obama is strongest, particularly in the Congressional Black Caucus.
Despite threats from almost 60 progressive House Democrats — who outnumber the Blue Dogs — Pelosi defended the compromise, saying it was similar to one backed by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). Pelosi predicted that the liberal wing would fall in line because the legislation is so important to them.
"Are you asking me, ‘Are the progressives going to take down universal, quality, affordable health care for all Americans?’ I don’t think so," Pelosi told reporters Friday, breaking into laughter at the question.
Just as troublesome as the internal House divisions is the burgeoning distrust among House Democrats, their Senate counterparts and the White House.
Pelosi acknowledged that "there are concerns" in her caucus that the White House, namely their former colleague Emanuel, takes House Democrats for granted. House lawmakers are being encouraged to pass the most liberal bill possible, she said, while the White House works on a bipartisan compromise with a select group of senators.
"It’s no secret," Pelosi said, "that members sometimes think: ‘Why do I always read in the paper that they’re checking with the Finance Committee all the time? What does that mean, that they just want to know what’s happened with the Finance Committee? What about the [Senate health] committee? What about our committees over here?’ "
Sixty liberals signed their names to a letter pledging to join together to oppose the bill if the Blue Dogs got to hack true cost control measures out. They gave a press conference and said they "simply cannot vote" for a proposal that reduced subsidies to low and middle-income families, which "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," said the letter.
Obama picked up the phone and called Jan "bail" Schakowsky:
Within hours of the liberal complaints, Obama was on the phone with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a fellow Illinois Democrat and Energy and Commerce member who is in charge of the healthcare issue for the Progressive Caucus.
He told her the bill should go forward, Schakowsky said.
And the next thing you know, they settled for a symbolic floor vote on Single Payer before the end of the year:
Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Co-Chair of the Middle Class Caucus and member of the Energy & Commerce Committee who led the effort with Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA); Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY); Rep. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL); Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL); and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), released the following statement:
“Single-payer is a better plan and now it is on center stage. Americans have a clear choice. Their Member of Congress will have a simpler, less expensive and smarter bill to choose. I am thrilled that the Speaker is giving us that choice.”
Schakowsky’s role in any progressive coalition seems to undermine it at the first chance. She has a long history of leading the sell-out on a variety of issues, for really dubious reasons. Now that Obama is trying to sell co-ops as a public plan, I think we can see where this is headed.
Nobody takes the progressive caucus seriously, and rightfully so. They do nothing but make idle threats that they don’t follow through on.
If people in their districts don’t start screaming and demanding that they stand up, we’re looking at a health care bill with "co-ops" that will be nothing but a bail out of the insurance industry.