Holding Dems like Baucus and Cantwell Accountable on Health Care

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HEALTHCARE: Holding Dems like Baucus and Cantwell Accountable

The stench of “centrism” and its inherent betrayal of the public interest has rarely been as obvious as in this political struggle.

July 5, 2009

By Don Smith


Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) could be a poster boy for what’s wrong with the US political system, and the betrayals of the Democratic party.

Progressives and conservatives are waging political war over health care reform, with the central battle  being about whether there will be a strong public option.

The swing voters in this battle are “moderate” Democrats such as Senator Max Baucus of Montana and Senator Maria Cantwell (WA).  Republicans are nearly united in their opposition to significant reform, so the interesting battles are occurring within the Democratic Party and within the mass media, where both sides are trying to control the public debate.

As chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus wields tremendous power over health care legislation. Yet he accepted almost $2 million from healthcare lobbyists. (See http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/22146 .) According to this article, Baucus “received more campaign money from health and insurance industry interests than any other member of Congress.”  His opposition to seating single-payer advocates at health care hearings is, by now, notorious.

Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell is another Senator coming under increasing criticism by Democrats upset with her wishy-washy support for progressive health care reform.  As this editorial (What’s Up with Maria Cantwell?) says, Cantwell has expressed doubts about whether there are enough votes to get a public option through the Senate;  instead, she supports government-backed health-care-cooperatives.   For many Democrats, her stance amounts to treason, since she needs to be positive about the public option, instead of throwing in the towel when the fight has barely begun.

The goal, after all, is to use the leverage of a large, nationally-based agency to standardize and simplify paper work and coverage, to reign in overheads and costs, and to provide fair, universal coverage.  For most progressives, single-payer health care is the ultimate goal. (Indeed, some progressives regard support for anything short of single-payer to be betrayal.)  For most conservatives, single payer is anathema, precisely because  it’s almost certainly cheaper and more effective!  Conservatives fear that a strong public option is one step on the road towards single-payer and towards Democratic dominance at the polls. (See click here and Blocking Obama’s Health Plan is Key to the GOP’s Survival.)

160px-Maria_Cantwell_official_photoIn later interviews Cantwell has apparently “refined” her position and stated that she supports a public option. But it is still unclear what she means: does she consider health-care-cooperatives to be a public option?

The Washington State Democratic Party platform clearly expresses support for strong, universal health care. Efforts are now under way to apply polite but firm pressure upon Senator Cantwell to come out strongly for a strong public option.  There is a petition, party activists are phoning Cantwell’s offices, and there is talk of having Democratic State Party Chair Dwight Pelz contact the Senator, since lower-level party activists are reportedly having trouble reaching the Senator.

Criticizing fellow Democrats is never easy, but too many Democrats are DINOS (Democrats In Name Only).  Senator Cantwell’s stance on the Iraq War has also been unsatisfactory. As stated in this editorial from 2006, Iraq War: Cantwell’s choice , “Cantwell has said she doesn’t think her vote for the war was a mistake.

A few months ago, she stunned the members of this newspaper’s Editorial Board by talking of ‘our successes in Iraq’.”

But for now, health care reform is the top priority. Health care reform has been at or near the top of lists of priorities for Democrats, and what’s needed is a pull-out-all-the-stops mobilization.

Backed by the formidable power of the drug, insurance, and medical industries, Republicans and conservative Democrats are fighting to retain a corrupt market-based health care system that is by far the most expensive in the world per capita and that leaves America with lower standards of care than many other nations.  Slovenic health care anyone?

Author’s Website: www.truthsite.org

Author’s Bio: Progressive activist, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, computer programmer, and lyricist. My guest op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the Bellevue Reporter. See my website http://truthsite.org for my writing, my musical creations, and my animations.

3 comments on “Holding Dems like Baucus and Cantwell Accountable on Health Care

    It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.


    We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

    And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

    Progressive democrats the Tri-Caucus and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and request that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

    Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

    In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

    If President Obama has to declare a NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY to rescue the American people from our healthcare crisis, he will need all the sustained support you can give him. STICK WITH HIM! He’s doing a brilliant job.



    Join the fight.

    Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

    God Bless You

    Jacksmith – WORKING CLASS


    What’s the point of having 60 democrats in the Senate if they can’t even pass a half-way decent health care bill? Bill Maher was right. Republicans are the crazy party, and Democrats are the new Republicans. Where’s the party that cares about something other than corporations?

    Why would anyone think Maria Cantwell would do otherwise? She’s consistently voted to spread depleted uranium throughout the planet. She’s consistently voted for – and staunchly supported – the offshoring of as many American jobs as possible – she’s voted for tax cuts for the super-rich. Why do the blithering idiots continue to vote for her? In the 2006 primary Cantwell received around 96% of the vote – when an authentic democrat was in the race.

    Why vote for Bush-dog dem, Maria Cantwell? (Remember, she’s from Ohio, she’s a distant relation to the Walker-Bush family – either third cousin or fourth cousin on the Walker side.) Geez Louise!

    Maria Cantwell has no convictions and no credibility with regard to people’s issues. She doesn’t even support net neutrality, supposedly her industry. I am surprised that she reversed herself on health care because once she did claim support for a public option; usually she doesn’t even bother to articulate a position. I don’t think she’s persuadable; however, we would be fighting more fronts with a Senator Gorton. This is not to defend her: generating a strategy to engage ourselves for “healthcare like Congress has” must be our priority.

  3. As a Canadian it is is pitiful to watch US politicians put their vested interests ahead of the public good when in Canada and many European countries universal sihgle payer systems have proven their worth many times over. The key to the problem is obviously that politicians are elected by the people and then bought off by lobbyists- such is the corruption that triumphs over common sense and sane decision making. It is time for another American revolution.

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