Last Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 31-28 to advance health care legislation. Five Democrats — Reps. John Barrow (D-GA), Charlie Melancon (D-LA), Bart Stupak (D-MI), Rick Boucher (D-VA), and Jim Matheson (D-UT) — joined Republicans in voting against the legislation, despite the inclusion of a number of concessions in the bill made to placate conservative Democrats.
Not only has Barrow failed to provide support for health care reform, but he has also lined up with conservatives to oppose legislation pushing for a clean energy economy. In June, Barrow and other conservative Democrats succeeded in watering down climate change legislation that he ended up voting against anyway.
While it’s possible that Barrow is simply ideologically opposed to progressive legislation, he also has a financial incentive to continue to vote the way he does. A number of powerful corporate interests have invested in his campaigns. According to data from OpenSecrets, 60% of the PAC money recieved by Barrow during the 2008 election cycle was from business interests. Barrow has already collected $27,500 from the energy industry and $19,500 from the health care industry for his 2010 campaign, with generous contributions coming in from Exxon Mobil, Georgia Power, Merck & Co, and Monsanto.
Methinks it is time to kick the Blue Dogs until they yelp. Keith Olbermann launches our ass-kicking campaign in a scathing Special Comment:
Some of the highlights.[snip]
Congressman Mike Ross of Arkansas.Leader of the Blue Dogs in the House. You're the guy demanding a guarantee that Reform won't add to the deficit. I'm guessing you forgot to demand that about, say, Iraq.
You're a Democrat, you say, Congressman?
You saw what Sandy Barham said? Sandy Barham is 62 years old, she's got a bad heart, and she's hoping her valves will hold together for three more years until Medicaid kicks in, because she can't afford insurance. Not just for herself, mind you. For her employees. She needs the public option. So do those six people who work at that restaurant of hers, Congressman Ross. And why should you give a crap?
Because Sandy Barham's restaurant is the Broadway Railroad Café, and it is at 123 West First Street North in Prescott, Arkansas.
Prescott, Arkansas, Congressman Ross.
Your home town. You are Sandy Barham's congressman. Hers, Sir. Not Blue Cross's and Blue Shield's, even if they do insure 75 percent of the state and they own you.
I warn you all. You were not elected to create a Democratic majority.
You were elected to restore this country.You were not elected to serve the corporations and the trusts who the government has enabled for the last eight years.
You were elected to serve the people.
And if you fail to pass or support this legislation, the full wrath of the progressive and the moderate movements in this country will come down on your heads. Explain yourselves not to me, but to them.
They elected you, and in the blink of an eye, they will replace you.
If you will behave as if you are Republicans - as if you are the prostitutes of our system - you will be judged as such.
It is our duty, my darlings, to remind them of these simple facts at every possible opportunity.
Have you kicked your Blue Dog today?