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Hardball time on health-care reform

Looks like liberal interest groups have gotten very serious about passing this bill, and they're letting Democratic congressmen know. "Hardball time," Greg Sargent calls it:

In what seems intended as a shot across the bow of House Dems wavering on health reform, top officials with the labor powerhouse SEIU have bluntly told a Democratic member that they will pull their support for him — and will likely field a challenger against him — if he votes No on the Senate bill.

Dem Rep Mike McMahon of New York met yesterday with a top SEIU official and told him he’s likely to vote No, the official tells me. The official: Fishman, president of SEIU 32bj, the largest property workers union in the country, with 120,000 members in eight states.

Fishman told McMahon that the union would not support him if he voted No — and suggested the hunt for a primary or third-party challenger would follow.

“He let us know he’s not supportive of the health care plan,” Fishman says. “We’ve let him know that we can’t support somebody who doesn’t support it.”

“We are going to begin talking to other unions about finding someone else for that seat,” Fishman continued.[...]

“We put an enormous amount of effort into electing Democrats,” Fishman said. “This is the most important issue on everyone’s plate. We’re sending a message to Democrats: If you can’t support this, we can’t support you.”

By Ezra Klein  |  March 12, 2010; 5:45 PM ET
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GO SEIU!! Absolutely the right thing to do. No more wimpy Democrats. Totally love this. Andy Stern, you are my hero. And I will contribute to challengers any way I can, so listen up you "waverers".

Posted by: LindaB1 | March 12, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I will contribute to Rep. Mike McMahon (D-NY) if he follows his conscience and votes NO.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 12, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Good. What's the point of supporting someone who vote against your most important legislative priority?

McMahon is free to vote against it, but votes have consequences.

Hopefully, weak-kneed Dems who are on the fence will get the message.

Posted by: gorlando1 | March 12, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

This has been the holy grail for the labor movement for a long time. No not healthcare reform but rather having the guts to meaningfully hold the so called "friends of labor" accountable when they refuse to support working people on issues of major importance (the right to organize comes to mind). I hope other unions follow SEIUs lead here, but given the estrangement of SEIU from most other unions I'm not sure how that will shake out. But good to hear that at least SEIU is going be serious about this.

Posted by: alan24 | March 12, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Bravo to SEIU. Do these Conservadems believe that the insurance companies WON'T support Republican candidates against them no matter what they do?

Cowardly Democrats: go now. You'll still get a pension, and you'll save a lot of time you otherwise would have spent trying to get re-elected when no one will support you.

Posted by: Dollared | March 12, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse


It does matter how many years a Congressman stays in office. The pension amount is determined by a formula that takes that into account as well as the average pay for the top three years in terms of payment. Last time I checked, in 2002, the average pension payment ranged from $41,000 to $55,000 per year. As an example, a Congressman who served 22 years and had a top three-year average salary of $153,900 would be eligible for a pension payment of $84,645 per year.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 12, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully, Rep. Mike McMahon (D-NY) votes "no" and stays in Congress a long time.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 12, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

According to, Bart Stupak's number one source of campaign contributions is labor. Not surprising for a Democrat from Michigan who generally votes with the party.

The SEIU is not, I believe, a major Stupak contributor but several other unions are. I strongly encourage them to apply pressure on Rep. Stupak.

Posted by: allanbrauer | March 12, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Dateline January 13, 2010:

SEIU Exposes Brown's Conservative Record Spends $685K on New Ad

Boston - Today, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) took to the airwaves to educate Bay State voters about how out of step Scott Brown is with the Commonwealth's values. The new independent expenditure statewide ad "Massachusetts Values" begins airing today throughout the state. It will run on television and online through the January 19th special election.

"Martha Coakley has spent her life standing up for families by cracking down on abusive health insurers, fighting for economic help for small business owners and keeping the Commonwealth safe," said SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger.

"Her opponent, meanwhile, makes claims of independence while voting in lock step with the Republican leaders in the State House - more than 90 percent of the time. Scott Brown supported both George Bush and his tax cuts for the rich, he opposes a woman's right to choose, he denies the facts on global warming, and he enjoys the support of extremist Tea Party backers.


If the pro-life Dems stand strong in their home party, they will receive financial support in the fall.

And perhaps the SEIU strong-arming is not as strong as some suggest.

November no doubt will be interesting, either way this vote flips.

Posted by: Mary42 | March 12, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Mary42 | March 12, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

This is nuts. McMahon's district would go Republican if it weren't for him. Then again, it's not news that SEIU leadership is brain-damaged.

Posted by: bmull | March 12, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

"McMahon's district would go Republican if it weren't for him." I guess this may be so, but absolutely nothing would be lost. There is zero need for a Democratic Congressperson who votes No on health care.

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Posted by: ggitkonlyyou | March 12, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Halle-freakin-luiah! Let's start acting like we want to win again. Good work, SEIU.

Posted by: tomwoods | March 12, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Go SEIU! I'm totally impressed by the role of labor in everything from HCAN to this.

It's the good fight -- and should be remembered and rewarded whenever they need our help.

Posted by: leoklein | March 13, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

I have always liked Andy Stern, and everything about his conduct during the health care fight has confirmed that opinion. I agree that a Dem that drops the party's most important legislative commitment at the 11th hour out of sheer cowardice (what others laughably call "conscience") deserves to lose his seat. Anyone who thinks some fairytale pony of a single-payer-public-option bill is going to show up as an alternative must, I will wager, have employer-based insurance, or Medicare, and therefore feel that another 20 years of watching people die is worth the gamble. I've been surfing the private insurance market for a decade, and it is terrifying. We start on this reform now, or we will never start at all. So I'm with the poster above -- Go SEIU!

Posted by: ottakringer | March 13, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

You laugh at conscience? This is the new Dem party? I thought healthcare was all about saving lives, not saving money.

“If you pass the Stupak amendment, more children will be born, and therefore it will cost us millions more. That’s one of the arguments I’ve been hearing,” Stupak says. “Money is their hang-up. Is this how we now value life in America? If money is the issue — come on, we can find room in the budget. This is life we’re talking about.”

To me, there's rather foreboding. And the reason why the good majority of Americans want nothing to do with relinquishing the big decisions about their health to a government bureaucracy that in no way shares their values about whose life is worthy of spending money on, and whose simply is not.

I don't think the many Hispanic immigrant employees of the SEIU will put their hearts into campaigning for abortion-covered healthcare rights either. Fwiw. You can tell them how to vote come November, but will they necessarily listen?

Thoughts for the Stupak 12 to stew on...

Posted by: Mary42 | March 13, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

its amazing that these kind of strong arm tactics are not only OK, but gleefully approved by many libs on here.

If its not OK for insurers or businesses to use these tactics WHY is it OK for union leaders to spend people's dues on this? Oh I forgot for taxpayer subsidized healthcare, that's why.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 13, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

The electoral boost from SEIU support is one good reason to vote for this bill. The economic recovery impact of healthcare reform offers a better reason. The best reason is that this is the right thing to do.

Posted by: FirstMouse1 | March 13, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

The electoral boost from SEIU support is one good reason to vote for this bill. The economic recovery impact of healthcare reform offers a better reason. The best reason is that this is the right thing to do.

Posted by: FirstMouse1 | March 13, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

It is all about Power Hungry and Control.The people who are in our government do not live in the real world otherwise they would all vote no for this socialized health Care Reform scam.We have no money to pay for it and they all know it.It is control they want not reform.

Posted by: peggydlhk | March 14, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

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