39 Cowardly Democrats Sign Death Warrants for 45,000 Americans

Today, 39 Democrats, including three members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (Peter DeFazio of Oregon, Dave Loebsack of Iowa, and Rick Nolan of Minnesota) voted to undo the proudest progressive policy achievement at least since Medicare, and probably since Social Security. They voted to pass the Fred Upton bill, which would let health insurance companies continue to dupe unsuspecting Americans into buying junk coverage through 2014.

Under the guise of letting Americans keep insurance plans now being canceled because they do not meet minimum coverage requirements, the Upton bill has no intention of fixing the problems. In fact, the goal is the exact opposite: to dismantle health reform. The president's plan, announced yesterday, will let people keep their existing subpar plans should insurance companies choose to still offer them, but they must tell the truth to their subscribers about what essential service (hospitalization, pre-existing conditions, prescription drugs, contraception and prenatal care are just a few examples) they will not cover (or cover to a significant degree).

The Upton bill, unsurprisingly favored by the same insurance companies panicked at the president's announcement yesterday, simply lets insurance companies keep selling liar policies with junk insurance, while not even mentioning to their subscribers that a better plan may be available in the marketplaces. Its intention is to keep people away from the health insurance exchanges and duped into the lies of their insurance companies - duped, that is, until they get sick or get into an accident and discover that their policy covers next to nothing.

That is what these 39 cowards voted for. Frankly, I am not interested in explanations for this. I am not interested in being told that some of them had to do it because they come from conservative districts where Republican propaganda plays well. I am not interested in being told that they feared ads running against them next year. I am not interested in being told all the other rationalizations on why these cowardly Democrats had to be cowards.

Here is what I am interested in them knowing: some 30 million Americans are poised to get health insurance because of the exchanges and the Medicaid expansion (could be 5 million more if Republican governors universally accept the fully federally funded Medicaid expansion). I am interested in having them know that 45,000 Americans die every year either because they don't have insurance or because they have a junk policy that they don't find out about until it's too late. I want these Democrats to know that they just joined the House Republicans in signing a death warrant for an additional 45,000 Americans. I sure hope that was worth whatever electoral or talking point advantages they think they will get from this vote in next year's elections.

And if the goal of the Upton bill - the failure of the exchanges and the law as a whole - is realized, it won't just be the 45,000 Americans they just voted to kill next year. It will be another 45,000 the following year. And the year after that.

Thankfully, the death warrant 39 cowardly Democrats just signed for these 45,000 people per year will not be executed because the President of the United States is still one of the few in DC that cares more about the real lives of real Americans than political lives of political cowards a year out from an election. The death warrants the 39 cowards signed won't be executed because at times the President seems to be the only person with the backbone to stand up and defend the largest expansion of the social safety net since its introduction in the 1930s while House "progressives" run for the hills.

I believe in political reality. And the political reality of the moment is that this monumental progressive achievement needs political support. The political reality is that now is not the time to retreat. The political reality is now is not the time to kill another 45,000 Americans so that cowards in DC can escape with their political careers.

Time to name and shame them (I'll be finding and posting their Twitter handles throughout the day):

  • Ron Barber - AZ-2 (@RepRonBarber)
  • John Barrow - GA-12 (@repjohnbarrow)
  • Ami Bera - CA-7 (@RepBera)
  • Timothy H. Bishop - NY-1 (@TimBishopNY)
  • Bruce Braley - IA-1 (@TimBishopNY)
  • Julia Brownley - CA-26 (@JuliaBrownley26)
  • Cheri Bustos - IL-17 (@RepCheri)
  • Jim Costa - CA-16 (@RepJimCosta)
  • Peter A. DeFazio - OR-4 (@RepPeterDeFazio)
  • Suzan K. DelBene - WA-1
  • Tammy Duckworth - IL-8
  • Bill Enyart - IL-12
  • Elizabeth Esty - CT-5
  • Bill Foster - IL-11
  • Pete Gallego - TX-23
  • John Garamendi - CA-3
  • Joe Garcia - FL-26
  • Ron Kind - WI-3
  • Ann McLane Kuster - NH-2
  • Dave Loebsack - IA-2
  • Dan Maffei - NY-24
  • Sean Patrick Maloney - NY-18
  • Jim Matheson - UT-4
  • Mike McIntyre - NC-7
  • Jerry McNerney - CA-9
  • Patrick Murphy - FL-18
  • Rick Nolan - MN-8
  • Bill Owens - NY-21
  • Gary Peters - MI-14
  • Scott Peters - CA-52
  • Collin C. Peterson - MN-7
  • Nick J. Rahall II - WV-3
  • Raul Ruiz - CA-36
  • Brad Schneider - IL-10
  • Kurt Schrader - OR-5
  • Carol Shea-Porter - NH-1
  • Kyrsten Sinema - AZ-9
  • Filemon Vela - TX-34
  • Tim Walz - MN-1

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