Democrats from conservative districts face a series of uncomfortable votes.
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On the same day that the Democratic-run Congressional Budget Office poured cold water on the idea that the House Democrats’ bill would yield federal health care savings, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and 21 other junior Democrats sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter opposing a surtax on upper-income earners to pay for a new health care plan. “Especially in a recession,” they wrote, “we need to make sure not to kill the goose that will lay the golden eggs of our recovery.”
This followed a separate letter to Pelosi from 40 members of the Blue Dog Coalition vowing to oppose any health care bill that increases the deficit, doesn’t address their delivery system concerns, and doesn’t protect small business. Michael Barone points out that only five Democrats signed both letters, meaning that 57 House Democrats are sweating core provisions of the bill. “Twenty-nine of the 57 letter signers defeated or replaced Republicans in 2006 or 2008,” he wrote in the Washington Examiner. “Thirty-three of them represent districts carried by John McCain in 2008.” The vast majority of them are among the Democrats most likely to be defeated by Republicans in 2010.
These are just the fiscal concerns represented by health care. Democrats who support their party’s position will also run afoul of pro-life activists and many of their own constituents. “These bills would result in federally mandated coverage of abortion by nearly all health plans, federally mandated recruitment of abortionists by local health networks, and nullification of many state abortion laws,” said Doug Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee in a statement. “They would also result in federal subsidies for abortion on a massive scale.”
Johnson argued that abortion subsidies would be likely unless explicitly prohibited, even if the Hyde Amendment remains in force. He called it a “condition red” alert for pro-life activists and “the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.” More than 20 pro-life House Democrats have sent their leadership a letter expressing their opposition to mandatory abortion coverage, though pro-life Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) helped such a bill clear the Senate’s health committee.
No matter the outcome of the legislative battles, a series of such damning votes could have the effect of uniting the old conservative coalition — taxpayers, gun owners, pro-lifers, and national security hawks — against the new Democrats. It might even be enough to turn some Blue Dog districts red once more.