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Blue Dogs on Health Care: Why So Blue?

The House's Blue Dog Democrats have voiced loud objections to the costs of health care reform efforts working their way through several committees, ultimately causing President Obama and their party's congressional leadership to pull back on the deadline they had set for passing a plan.

As Chris Cillizza pointed out over at The Fix, many of the Blue Dogs live in districts that Barack Obama did not carry last November, and are concerned about the impact of voting for sweeping policies perceived to be "liberal" when they represent not-so-liberal places.

In the districts currently represented by members of the Blue Dog coalition, Obama averaged 48 percent of the vote to McCain's 50. McCain carried 32 of those districts compared with Obama's 19. Of the 206 districts represented by non-Blue Dog Democrats, Obama won 189 with an average of 65 percent of the votes.

But the results of the 2008 election only tell part of the story. Looking at how those who live in the districts represented by the Blue Dogs view Obama and the health care issue make it clear why their representatives are so concerned.

According to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Obama's overall approval rating in these districts has taken a hit since June. Among those living in the 51 congressional Districts represented by members of the Blue Dog coalition, it's fallen from 71 percent to 57 percent. While among those in districts represented by other Democrats, it's held about even at 67 percent.

And those in Blue Dog districts are somewhat less apt than those in other Democratic districts to consider Obama a new-style Democrat "who will be careful with the public's money." Less than half (49 percent) of those represented by Blue Dogs say he fits that description, compared with nearly six in 10 (58 percent) who live in other Democratic districts.

Turning specifically to health care, those in Blue Dog districts are closely divided (51 percent support, 48 percent oppose) on a proposal that would require individuals to carry health insurance and most employers to offer plans to their employees, include a public option and raise taxes on people with higher incomes in order to offset the costs. Among those who live in other Democrats' districts, the plan garners a clearer majority (56 percent to 40 percent).

Majorities in both Blue Dog (54 percent) and other Democratic districts (53 percent) say Obama is placing the right amount of a priority on health care, but those in Blue Dog districts who say Obama's priorities are misplaced are more likely to say he's overreaching (26 percent) than aiming too low (15 percent).

Finally, one change that could directly impact the fate of Blue Dogs themselves: in April, congressional Democrats held a 53 to 31 percent advantage in approval ratings over Republicans in Congress among those who live in Blue Dog districts. Now, both Democrats and Republicans are at 44 percent.

The Post-ABC News poll was conducted July 15-18 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults including users of both conventional and cellular phones. The survey included interviews with 131 adults in Blue Dog districts. The margin of sampling error for results from the full survey is plus or minus three percentage points, it is 8.6 points among those in Blue Dog districts.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  July 29, 2009; 10:11 AM ET
Categories:  Health care , Post Polls  
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Posted by: ChangeWhat | July 29, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Op-Ed Columnist
An Incoherent Truth

Published: July 26, 2009

"One interpretation, then, is that the Blue Dogs are basically following in Mr. Tauzin’s footsteps: if their position is incoherent, it’s because they’re nothing but corporate tools, defending special interests. And as the Center for Responsive Politics pointed out in a recent report, drug and insurance companies have lately been pouring money into Blue Dog coffers."

Below is the link about Mr. Tauzin.

"While recovering from a difficult fight with cancer, on January 3, 2005, the same day he left Congress, Tauzin began work as the head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a powerful trade group for pharmaceutical companies."

Perhaps Mr. Tauzin wants to make more money for his family before he dies. However, he is not the first one to have done this. We really need law against this revolving door practice between Congress and the lobbying industry.
I recommend a cooling period of seven years between an elected office and a lobbyist. What do you think?

Posted by: dummy4peace | July 29, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I hope the "blue dogs" can get Republicans to vote for them, because there is little reason for democrats to care whether they're elected.

Posted by: rodneythecat | July 29, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

These Senators have been on the lobbyist's payroll for years. They have never been truly concerned with the majority of our Country, only with fattening their own pockets. They are not paying attention to anything other than the millions of dollars that the insurance lobbyist are pouring into congress each week. It makes me wonder how much of their districts are made up of people who actually work or are invested in some way in the insurance industry?

Posted by: MET9 | July 29, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Many of the rural districts the Blue Dogs represent would benefit the most from a public option.

This is of little consequence to their representatives who are blue in that they are Democrats and dogs in that they roll over for the Insurance companies.

Posted by: JacobWong | July 29, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

This is a really nice article that makes very clear a couple of things:

1, that the Blue Dogs are representing their constituents and not some lobbying interests in pushing for a fiscally responsible bill.

2, that the Democrats majority in congress is Razor thin, and requires them to stay in the middle on many issues if they want to keep that majority.

3, that Progressive Democrats claims that they will unseat conservative democrats to get their agenda through Congress is complete Hogwash. I.e. Progressive Democrats won't get elected in these districts. They may win the battle (the primary) but will lose the war (the general election).

Really nice numbers that explain why the Democrats need to cater to moderate Democrats on health care.

Posted by: DCDave11 | July 29, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

They sound more like 2-faced politicians.

They came up with this idea of Blue Dogs in order to try to have it both ways in the political arena. Phonies.

Posted by: lindalovejones | July 29, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

No matter how you look at it---Obama's Health Care takeover institutes Euthanasia in America--people over the age of 65 will be left to die!!

Obama raises the National Debt over two trillion dollars!

Obama wants to raise taxes on all Americans!!




Posted by: charko825 | July 29, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Blue dogs are insult to dogs who are loyal, courageous and true. Blue dog Democrats should be renamed "Brutus". These people would not be in their position had they run under the Republican Party. Brutuses, that what the blue dogs are. Pres. Obama ran with the promise of healthcare reform and he was elected for that reason, at least one of the significant reasons. Brutus, that what blue dogs are. Treacherous and devious and cowardly.

Posted by: mstratas | July 29, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"The House's Blue Dog Democrats have voiced loud objections to the costs of health care reform efforts working their way through several committees,.."

Yeah right!. What a load of crap. Didn't they vote for Bushe's tax cuts for the wealthy putting the country into close to trillion dollars in debt. They weren't worried about the deficit then. The blue dog democrats are just dogs who lick the feet of their corporate master....crooks among crooks. Hey, we still pay their salary. Boy, they sure have a nice set up.

Posted by: kevin1231 | July 29, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

What the hell is an bluedog anyway?

If you ask me they are really Republicans the only different view is that of "Pro-Choice"

I wish they would go and vote Republicans and quit making up this blue grass crap

No wonder the Republicans picking up traction they are sticking to one base -
EXTREME CONSERVATIVES - They even kicked out the Moderate Republicans.


Posted by: danson1 | July 29, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I guess the american public is nopt good enough for the same insurance that Congress gets. They have a public option already! Medicare the Vetrans Administration both are public options. Ask a vetran to give up his healthcare and see what he or she says, and most seniors who are being hoodwinked into the negative position say they want to keep their Medicare. Wake up Blue Dogs and get with the program1

Posted by: jprice6 | July 29, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Alright democrats. If you live in a blue dog district and want the public option, CALL them and let them know! Then they will know what you want and not have to guess! Your voice will outweigh the money anytime! If they don't, do us a favor and primary them!

Posted by: sandnsmith | July 29, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Send the BLUE DOGGIES to DOG Pound..
They will be taken care of, on the next election. ESTA LA VISTA DOGGIES...

Posted by: llevario2 | July 29, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the statistics used in this article are really saying anything...the margin of error for the Blue Dog districts was 8.6 points! The authors shouldn't be drawing any major conclusions since the difference between most of the percentages is within 8 points.

Posted by: kss1001 | July 29, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

You are all missing that the reform bill will destroy thousands of business and even more jobs.

The funding scheme must have been written by a 2nd grader!

The legislation under consideration mandates businesses with a payroll of $400,000 or $500,000 or more to pay insurance premiums for employees. The size of a company’s payroll is not an indicator of whether the company makes money or the size of its profit margin. Remember, regardless of the size of a company’s payroll some barely break even, some make a modest profit.

Furthermore, businesses that are labor intensive, typically in service industries, that is with more employees rather than fewer, will be decimated by this legislation. Let me provide an example. Assume you have a company, like mine, with 150 employees all who make between $8 and $10 per hour, that generates about $150,000 in profit, and you have a company of 20 employees that generates $150,000 in profit.

The result of the healthcare legislation is that a company like mine will be mandated to pay $360,000 ($200 per month per employee for insurance premiums) per year in insurance premiums. Thus putting me and others like me into bankruptcy immediately. The company with 20 employees will pay $48,000 per year. They might survive.

The clear point is that the proposed healthcare legislation is worded so that small businesses with many employees will be crushed. That will be disastrous to our country and I can’t imagine this is what is intended.

How about looking into national sales tax, oh wait we don't have time to study that because we must rush to pass the bill! (sarcasm)

Posted by: chas12991 | July 29, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

When a survey has a margin of error greater than 8% as the survey of Blue Dog district constituents does, it is basically worthless. At the very least there needs to be additional sampling on a larger scale to have anything meaningful to report.

Even if it is true, it indicates a very poor job on part of Blue Dog Representatives in educating their constituents. The health reforms proposed by the President and by the Senate HELP Committee particularly would help rural districts more than most other districts. Blue Dog districts are overwhelmingly rural. Rural citizens are more likely to be uninsured, hold transient jobs, and have lower incomes than residents of urban and suburban areas. They are at generally greater risk of losing insurance or finding themselves unable to find insurance than most others. It would appear as though extension of health coverage and creation of a public option to force down costs of the price-gouging private insurers would most benefit rural citizens, yet the Blue Dogs are opposed.

Really makes one think the Blue Dogs really don't care about the majority of their constituents. However they appear greatly concerned about protecting the interests of the moneyed folks and major executives within their districts----those most likely to contribute to their campaigns. Protect the few at the expense of the many----a typical Blue Dog prescription for health care.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | July 29, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans are about to get their wish to relegate Medicare to the broom closet. And ironically are getting their wish through a Democratic reform effort. Right now, the assault in the Congress on Medicare has resulted in a wholesale defection from the program by general practicioners, among others. In my city of 150,000 no top-flight GP accepts Medicare anymore. Who does?--The GPs whose reputations are questionable. In short, the best general practitioners in my city do not accept Medicare; the worst doctors do. How's that for a Republican Party gain. Fortunately for us, our hospitals still accept Medicare and most of our specialists. Under the reform plan as watered down by the Republicans, Medicare will be little more than a charity for the poor and destitute despite the fact that patients have paid into it all their working lives in order to have it when they retire. Wouldn't you know?

Posted by: ram9478 | July 29, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Has Sen. Chrissy Dodd (D - CT) refinanced his Countrywide loan ?

Posted by: hclark1 | July 29, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I wish the blue dog traitors could spend some time with Michael Vick. Thank you for my death sentence. Some of us won't live until September without insurance.

Posted by: gotmydeathsentence | July 29, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the ultimate irony? No wonder the Republcans are laughing we're glee. We're stuck with Obama, and still no health insurance.

Posted by: gotmydeathsentence | July 29, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Blue Dogs: Democrats who are rolling over for Blue Cross!

Posted by: mountaindonna | July 30, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I am disappointed in my congressman, Jason Altmire, for being part of this group that is too cozy with the health care industry. I emailed my objections to him and will call his office also. This is why people hate politics, the dishonesty and self serving ways that surface once elected.

Posted by: steelmind2000 | July 31, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I found something on the "Blue-dogs"..

Blue dogs are rewarded, (big-time), with substantial Donations from Insurance, and also Big Pharmaceutical Lobbyists...anybody suprised? like they say, .."follow the money"..

Posted by: huj534op | August 2, 2009 2:30 AM | Report abuse

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