More and more House Democrats are pledging to oppose compromises on health care reform now being entertained by at least some aides to President Obama and Democrat leaders in the House and Senate.
“We have compromised and we can compromise no more,” an angry Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-California, declared at news conference that felt more like a rally outside the Capitol.
Woolsey and her Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair, Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, have now attracted 60 signers for a letter condemning compromises that make the cure worse than the disease.
A deal between House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Henry Waxman and several members of the conservative “Blue Dog” caucus has been portrayed as “progress” toward reform by some top Democrats and much of the media. But without the votes of the 60 progressives who have signed a letter condemning the compromise, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, is unlikely to be able to cobble together enough support to gain approval of the plan in House where Republicans continue to act as the party of “no.”
Pelosi tried to downplay the revolt, saying, “We have tremendous diversity, whether it is generational, geographic, philosophical, ethnic, gender, you name it,” she said. “It is a great kaleidoscope.”
But the Obama administration was taking the latest development in the health care debate seriously. The president was calling liberal lawmakers Friday, and was expected to call more over the weekend, in order to ease tensions.
The progressives didn’t create the crisis.
And they are certainly not acting as obstructionists in the manner that Republicans and Blue Dogs have.
Rather, they argue, the compromise between Waxman and the Blue Dogs is itself an obstruction to real reform.
The progressives say “the agreement is not a step forward toward a good health care bill, but a large step backwards.” That’s because it would, according to their savvy analysis, “reduce subsidies to low-and middle-income families, requiring them to pay a larger portion of their 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,” declares the letter that was circulated by Woolsey, Grijalva and a number of CPC members and allies, “this agreement will result in the public, both as insurance purchasers and as taxpayers, paying ever higher rates to insurance companies.”
The full letter, which has been sent to Pelosi, Waxman, Ways and Means Committee chair Charles Rangel, D-New York, and House Committee on Education and Labor chair George Miller, D-California, reads:
Dear Madam Speaker, Chairman Waxman, Chairman Rangel, and Chairman Miller: