Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Left-leaning groups launch attack on moderate Democrats over health care

David Brooks thinks the Democratic Party has launched itself on a "suicide march." I wouldn't go that far, but it's surely true that the left wing of the party has always been a tad suicidal -- more now than ever -- and seems always ready to pull the Democratic Party as a whole down if it can't get its way.

I've blogged about this before here and here. If more proof is needed, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a MoveOn.org spin off, and DemocracyForAmerica, which calls itself "the nations' largest progressive political action community," are running TV ads attacking Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and is probably the key guy on the Hill who can frame a health care bill that might just pass the Senate.

No matter to the self-styled progressives who claim that Baucus is out of step with "the 76% of Americans who support President Obama's public health insurance option." The groups cite a month-old poll at a time when public support for any health care reform has been dropping like a rock as the massive costs and not altogether pleasing trade offs have become obvious to people. In any case, Baucus has never said he does or doesn't support a public option; he's just trying to get a bill that enough Senators will support to pass it.

And did the two groups even pause to wonder whether in relatively conservative Montana -- which now has two Democratic Senators, thanks to the very moderate stances that the left is attacking --their ads really will undermine Baucus with his voters? Frankly, I think it will help him at home to be attacked by these guys.

Montana's junior Senator, Jon Tester, was one of the moderates elected in 2006 who handed control of the Senate to the Democratic Party. Tester has been keeping a relatively low profile on health care reform, and like many other moderates, appears to be keeping his -- and the Senate's -- options open. For the moment, then, Tester is not a target of the left. But seven other Democratic Senators may find themselves in the cross hairs, including such usual suspects as Evan Bayh and Joe Lieberman but also, somewhat surprisingly, John Kerry!

Let me not mince words: this is crazy, does not make smart, sustainable health care reform any more likely, and weakens the Democratic Party's ability to hold power in Washington long enough to change much of anything.

Moderate Democrats in the Senate and the House are reflecting their constituents' unease with sweeping expensive proposals that might be pushed through with foolish haste and a myriad of unintended consequences. These members of Congress likely represent the center of gravity of American opinion on this issue. They should be listened to -- not attacked.

What's your opinion? Post a comment.

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