Blue Dogs in PA held to account for abandoning Blue Dog policies


It’s fine if you reach across the aisle, but don’t kneecap your side of the aisle. Blue Dogs in PA were rewarded for opposing the ACA by a Republican controlled legislature here in PA by being re-districted from purple into Democratic districts:

Representatives Jason Altmire and Tim Holden both lost in primaries to opponents who joined together with activist groups to pummel the veteran lawmakers over the opposition to the new health care law and climate change legislation — positions they had used to their advantage in the past to show their independence from President Obama and the Democratic Party.

“A lot of us thought of his record as his strength,” said Hugh M. Reiley, the chairman of the Schuylkill County Democratic Party, referring to Mr. Holden. “He was not falling prey to all that party bickering. He was able to reach across the aisle.”

“Last night, the Democratic Party became more liberal,” he added.

This just isn’t true. Remember that the Blue Dog coalition’s Jim Cooper (D-TN) was the vanguard of the original “reach across the aisle” that resulted in a Health Care Reform alternative to Clinton White House’s Health Care Reform push in 1993 and tempered ACA provisions for Blue Dogs in 2009. This was the basis for the Obama White House’s Affordable Care Act. The ACA was pulled even further right from the Clinton and Cooper 1993 proposals by accepting further input from insurance and pharmaceutical corporations:

One of the most significant differences between 1993-94 and 2009-10 is that employers and business groups, alarmed at the soaring cost of health care, took a seat at the negotiating table. Insurance companies, which helped defeat the Clinton plan, began 2009 by saying they accept the need for change and want a seat at the table. As the bills developed, however, they became strong opponents of some Democratic proposals, especially one to create a government-run insurance plan as an alternative to their offerings.

Supporting the ACA based on Cooper’s 1993 Blue Dog/Republican compromise didn’t make the Democratic Party “more liberal”. They were both pieces of legislation that were shifted to the right away from the party platform and the Democratic Base to garner the votes of more Blue Dogs after much more liberal versions were defeated or never saw light of day in previous sessions of congress. The simple fact of the matter is that State Republicans used redistricting to reduce the number of Democrats in the US House of Representatives by forcing two Blue Dog Democrats to compete in blue districts. The only thing that moved was their district boundaries. Blue Dogs aren’t being pushed out of the party any time soon, but you can’t tout your “independence” from your party in a closed primary state and then be surprised when primary voters take you at your word.