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Blue Dog Ross Comes Out Against Public Option

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), the Blue Dog congressman who battled with Democratic Party leaders for much of July before reaching an agreement on health-care reform legislation, said Tuesday that he could no longer back the government-insurance option included in the bill he voted for before the congressional recess.

"I have been skeptical about the public health insurance option from the beginning and used August to get feedback from you, my constituents," he wrote in a statement his office released publicly. "An overwhelming number of you oppose a government-run health insurance option, and it is your feedback that has led me to oppose the public option as well."

While no other members of the Blue Dog Coalition signed the statement, Ross' comments could be the first sign of hardening opposition to the public option among the Blue Dogs, a group of 52 conservative House Democrats, many of whom represent districts President Obama lost last year. Before the recess, the group had been divided on the public option, but Ross has been one of its leaders on health care issues, forcing House Democratic leaders to make a number of changes to the bill before it passed in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

His comments come as Democrats plan to spend the next two days debating health care ahead of President Obama's speech on Wednesday night. House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) will meet with Obama today, and House Democrats will meet as a group on Wednesday morning.

That meeting could turn contentious in the wake of Ross' comments, because a group of more liberal House Democrats has demanded the public option be included in the bill and were frustrated back in July when Ross refused to back the public option until it was changed so doctors and hospitals would be paid based on rates negotiated with insurance companies instead of by Medicare rates, which are lower.

By Web Politics Editor  |  September 8, 2009; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Dem. Leaders , Health Reform  
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Comments

After casting votes without reading bills, it now appears Mike can now read hand writing on the wall. 2010 is right around the corner, but it might already be to late to save his hide. Should have payed attendtion a long time ago.

Posted by: myop1 | September 8, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

So Mike Ross and many of his constituents don't support a public option. Fine. Let them choose a different option. But withholding that option from all the others who might benefit from it -- like me, a self-employed person -- is the height of selfishness and arrogance. Who does Ross think he is, to take that choice off the menu for those who might not otherwise have an affordable means of protecting themselves?

Posted by: Eloisee | September 8, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

No a surprise at all. Arkansas is one of the least developed states in our country and would be a third world nation if independent.

Mike needs an education. He does not realize that most jobs are provided by small businesses and they cannot afford insurance.

If there is no public option, 45M Americans (more with light insurance) suffer, instead of contributing to the economy. But we will pay anyway when they go to emergency rooms. We will all pay one way or the other.

Also, it is shameful that we are now a country without a conscience and compassion. we only now care about the rich. we have become country for CEOs, executives and politicians.

Posted by: joe561 | September 8, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Another spineless worm democrat decides to go against the Public Option, in the 2010 elections as an independent I will never vote democrat again

Posted by: capskip | September 8, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Not a good sign for the Democrats with so many of their caucus not for the public option. Pelosi ahd Obama haven't done the Blue Dogs any favors. Even if they vote against the public option, it might be too late for them and Dems that support the president in 2012. My Democrat congressional rep is already toast. The same fate awaits many Dems up for reelection as a result of Obama's plans to move the country far to the left. This is Jimmy Carter all over again.

Posted by: saelij | September 8, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

At the Washington Post Co., two directors are on the board of insurance conglomerate Berkshire-Hathaway, whose subsidiary General Re sells health reinsurance. In fact, Washington Post director Warren Buffet not only chairs Berkshire-Hathaway’s board, he is the company’s CEO. (Berkshire-Hathaway is also one of the 10 biggest U.S. advertisers, along with pharmaceutical company Abbott Labor-atories—Ad Age, 6/22/09.) Another Washington Post director, Thomas Gaynor, is the vice president of insurance company Markel Corporation. In the past six months, the Washington Post has published hundreds of articles on the subject of healthcare reform, fewer than 25 of which mention single-payer. Fewer than 30 percent of the sources who spoke about single-payer in these articles were advocates of the plan.
In all, though healthcare reform has been mentioned thousands of times in the output of these media corporations’ major outlets, single-payer was mentioned in only 164 articles or news segments from January 1 through June 30, 2009; over 70 percent of these mentions did not include the voice of a single-payer advocate. Over 45 percent of the pieces that did include a single-payer advocate were episodes of the Ed Show, an MSNBC program whose host, Ed Shultz, frequently advocates for single-payer healthcare. Without the Ed Show, just 19 percent of articles or news segments that mentioned single-payer would have included an actual advocate of the plan.

While it should go without saying that correlation is not causation—and MSNBC’s example proves that interlocking directorates are hardly the only factor in media coverage—this study indicates that, at the very least, corporate media and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries’ interests are fundamentally aligned.


Media Corporation Insurance & Pharmaceutical Companies

Disney/ABC Proctor & Gamble

GE/NBC Chubb, Novartis, Proctor & Gamble, Merck

Time Warner AIG, Health Cap, Paratek Pharmaceuticals

Fox/News Corp GlaxoSmithKline, Genentech, Hybritech

New York Times Co. First Health Group, Eli Lilly

Tribune Co. Abbott Labs, Middelbrook Pharmaceuticals

Gannett/USA Today Chubb

Posted by: denniswaite1 | September 8, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Mike Ross is an arrogant, useless, un-informed hog wash. Why does this country's population continues to suffer under oppression of a few ignorant fat cats? Why is the word "compassion" so utterly trampled and spit on by a hand full of few ignorant backward states. They are the ones who stand to get the most out of the single payer system.

Posted by: alexrabo | September 8, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Blue Dog Democrat's are undercover republicans. Where are the PARTY LINES ANYMORE. Why can't we just vote online with some special voter number during week long elections. We don't even need to go through this kind of crap anymore. It can be done safe thorugh multiple media resources with unlimited access with near real time results. 76% of Americans have a computer and yet the term "Online Audience" has been portrayed by both the media and the politicians as just a small portion of the population but that's not so. Bring on the Future.

Posted by: drtodd1977 | September 9, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight Representative Ross is from Arkansas, right? Arkansas, hmm the state that is owned by Wal-Mart, the company that does not pay its employees well, or sometimes not at all, pays little or no U.S. taxes,(I read that sometime back) so how can Rep. Ross be in favor of a program that helps the "little guy" out? Wal-Mart reminds me of the old science fiction movie, "War of the Worlds" because wherever the cylinders from Mars hooked up, they squashed everything around them.
Wal_Mart pretty much does the same; it squeezes the little businesses out.
Small businesses? They don't hardly even exist. Show me! 5 & Dime stores of my youth are gone. Shoe shine businesses- gone! No one hardly wears shoes that need shining. Barber shops are chain salons. Even "roach-coaches" are being squeezed out. The small businesses that older people speak of have gone the way of the elevator operator. Anybody remember them?

The fellow who says we can vote through the Internet has a good idea! Whom can we trust?? Numbers can be manipulated.

Posted by: klumprdave1750 | September 9, 2009 2:36 AM | Report abuse

The big D Democrat label on Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia Democrats only exists because the states are ONE PARTY rule. The constituents are as conservative as Florida Republicans.

Usually, Blue Dogs can stealth vote and keep peace with the Blue Team from the Coasts, but not this year with Obama, Pelosi and Reid.

The risk that a lot of them will go Republican even though the State Apparatus is Democrat is very real in 2010.

Posted by: fprawl | September 9, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

The reason regular, normal Americans do NOT want a government run healthcare is that we believe the government needs to stay out of our lives as much as possible. The gov exists to guard our nation and our borders and to ensure our freedom. We do NOT need them to take over our businesses, banks and healthcare. Reform the current system, eliminate illegal aliens, and let the free market work. Like it or not this is still a (marginally) capitalist country and it's a wonderful, amazing country like no other.

Posted by: sparkletx | September 9, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

In response to Eloise (and others): You believe that a vote against the public option is taking a choice from you? How so? It merely removes the gun from your hand to rob the rest of the country for your insurance. Make no mistake about it, the public option is robbery in its plainest form and that is before the discussion about individual mandates even begins. In the words of Horatio Bunce, "If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive, what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other."

Opposition to a government run system has nothing to do with a lack of compassion. I, and others like me, believe that turning health care over to the bureaucratic machine is one of the least compassionate things we can do for our country, it's citizens and our families.

Klumprdave1750, Wal-mart actually supports the public option as it would force it's main competitor, Target, to pay the same health costs as it does.

Posted by: dannybannister | September 9, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Is there anyone in this whole debate who comprehends what insurance actually is? Why there are actuaries and what they do? What the difference is between insurance and charity? How paying an insurance premium is not the same thing as paying taxes? What the difference is between creating wealth and printing money?

What does it mean to you that the average life expectancy today is almost eighty years old? Would you pay the insurance premiums that were standard in the nineteen-sixties if all you got for it was the medical care that was available then? What is the price of research and development, and who should pay it, and who should reap the benefits?

Just asking. No one else seems to be.

Posted by: Porkov | September 9, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

First to porkov, do not even attempt to foist that old saw about research being the province of the private for profit greed monger thugs. It is our tax dollars, issued through grants with the National Institutes of Health to our universities, colleges and non-profit research facilities that develope 99.9 percent of the medical innovations. These are then turned over to the profit mongers and some form of return is expect but never recieved. Only a conservative twit would not understand that the profit mongers do not contribute they only take.

Secondly, life expectancy in the United states is considerably lower than the life expectancy in the other developed nations of the world. WE are number 37 in that group. Makes one so proud of our nation, huh? Wrong. Makes me ashamed and angry that I spent all those years in uniform defending a bunch of profit making bureaucrats who deny health care treatments to people every day, resulting in thousands of needless deaths every year. This is what the GOP Conservative idiots claim is a great health care system?

Bull feces.

There are 36 nations who have better health care delivery systems, their people live healthier longer lives and they have fewer birth deaths than we do.. All by the way at one half or less than we pay for our people.

Additionally, their businesses can compete more strongly against ours because they have no health care costs to worry about, and they know that their employees are covered by comprehensive health care across the board.

Those are facts, and unfortunately the conservatives Including the traitorous Blue Dog Democrats slimeballs, cannot deal with facts. They prefer fantasies like Sarah Palin, the dimbulb from alaska puts forth.

So tell me all you brilliant conservatives, how can you even make such statements about how great this for profit health care system is, with a straight face?

Thanks to this lousy system of health care today, my oldest son died this past May. It is my hope that none of you naysayer twits ever have to go through the pain of losing a child and especially to this fouled up American Health Care System.

Posted by: hhodges1 | September 9, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

In response to hhodges1 - you are attacking a straw man. I asked questions whose answers you do not wish to address by making (false) assumptions about me and my agenda. I want a health care system that works, not more feel-good legislation that amounts to nothing more than a gesture.

Once profits and greed have become a thing of the past and there are no more rich fat-cat capitalist thugs to tax in this best of all possible worlds, who is going to pay for all the free services that go with your utopia? Oh, I get it - you're going to become a doctor and work for free, living on light. And you won't need any stinking technology to save lives, because your heart is pure.

Who creates the wealth that funds the grants that colleges and universities use for the research you describe? Follow the money. The government prints it, and beyond that who cares, right?

Posted by: Porkov | September 9, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.)"?!!!

Since when is Dingy Harry a Republican?

Posted by: Achillea | September 9, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Hhodges1: My heart felt sympathies for your loss.

Posted by: stjam | September 9, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Senator Blanche Linclon from Arkansas has received $325,350 from the health care industries. Now she is no longer for public option. So, was it really overwhelming opposition, or an overwhelming amount of money to convince Ross to vote against Americans best interests? A majority of Americans put President Obama in office with a mandate. Universal Health care is now or never. Call it Single Payer or extend Medicare to everyone. It is time to get it done. The republicans are now the "party of we won't".The Democrats sound like the "party of we can't". I believe the republicans are mistaken if they think causing the failure of health care reform will put them back in power. After trying to get health care reform passed for 50 years and being the only industrialized nation without it, I am certain it will be the end of a 2 party system. There will be no doubt that failure will give a third party a chance to get the job done.

Posted by: stjam | September 9, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I agree Single Payer or Medicare for everyone. The government is in your business from Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, student loans, and small business loans, etc. The American people cannot wait any longer for affordable health care. Stop worrying about the pockets of doctors and hospitals. They are making money.

Posted by: mcj1 | September 9, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

In other words, now that I've heard the opinion of Fox news and talk, I have decided to accept the large campaign donations for my re-election campaign instead of stopping the waste and corruption in health care that would save many lives and stop a large portion of pilfer politics in Washington. I will continue to except the inside scoop of medical company corporate lobbyist and buy and sell stock at mass profit. Thank You All very Much

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | September 9, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

hhodges1: Great post. I agree.

Posted by: MaggiePi | September 10, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

I believe that we should vote out all incumbents across the states in 2010 as the only thing these corrupt politicians fear is their job, If it does not work the first time then we do it again in 2012. People say well you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but sometimes these are the scarifices needed to survive. there is an organization called kick them out and I have joined them as well as American for Prosperity. Jean

Posted by: glaspar | September 10, 2009 2:18 AM | Report abuse

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