Pelosi dissed Baucus bill, wants “strong public option going into conference with the Senate”

This is a very good sign. Yesterday, in a closed Democratic caucus meeting, The Speaker was critical of the Baucus health care bill yesterday, according to The Hill:

“The savings [in the Baucus bill] come off the backs of the middle class,” Pelosi told a closed-door caucus meeting. “This is why we need a strong public option going into conference with the Senate.”

The remark, confirmed by several of those in attendance, demonstrated that Pelosi is increasingly siding with the liberal members of her caucus on strategy.

Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have consistently pushed the bill to the left in order to improve the bargaining position it will have in conference with the more centrist Senate when it hammers out a final version.

For the record, Pelosi would also be siding with a large segment of the American people who want that public option: 61% in the latest Quinnipiac poll. But, in the world of Capitol Hill, it’s easy to overlook what the people want. Max Baucus demonstrated that.

The fact that Progressives are asserting their authority is making the Blue Dogs cranky. Apparently, the Blue Dogs, who have tried to control the agenda, don’t like others Democrats using their power, via The Hill:

That strategy has infuriated centrists, particularly Blue Dog Democrats, who don’t want to take politically risky votes on provisions likely to be bargained away in the final hours. They feel Pelosi and other leaders have ignored their suggestions.

“This isn’t about achieving bargaining power in conference,” said Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), a Blue Dog leader. “We should be coming together to see what can be achieved.”

Of all people, Sandlin is the last person to be whining right now. She famously claimed “victory” when the Blue Dogs used their bargaining position to delay passage of the health insurance reform bill before the August recess. Sandlin was unabashed about flexing the muscle of the Blue Dogs:

“It is because of the Blue Dog Coalition that there is no floor vote before the August break.”

The Blue Dogs aren’t running the show this time.

And, I’m sick of hearing politicians whine about taking tough votes. That’s their job. If they don’t want to take hard votes for critically important policy, they shouldn’t be in Congress.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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