A Stupak amendment of our own

by: Chris Bowers

Sun Nov 08, 2009 at 17:00

Last night, 23 Democrats voted against providing 36 million Americans with health insurance while reducing the deficit, but in favor of the Stupak amendment to restrict reproductive rights for low-income women. Those 23 Democrats are:

Jason Altmire (PA-4); Bobby Bright (AL-2); John Barrow (GA-12); John Boccieri (OH-16); Dan Boren (OK-2); Ben Chandler (KY-6); Travis Childers (MS-1); Artur Davis (AL-7); Lincoln Davis (TN-4); Bart Gordon; Parker Griffith (AL-5); Tim Holden (PA-17); Jim Marshall (GA-8); Jim Matheson (UT-2); Mike McIntyre (NC-7); Charlie Melancon (LA-3); Collin Peterson (MN-7); Mike Ross (AR-4); Heath Shuler (NC-11); Ike Skelton (MO-4); John Tanner (TN-8); Gene Taylor (MS-4); Harry Teague (NM-2)

In 2008, more than $1 out of every $12 the DCCC spent on electing Democratic House members went to electing one of these Democrats.  Based on expenditure reports compiled by Swing State Project, here are the details:

  • Voted to restrict reproductive rights, but voted against the stimulus, the budget, climate change legislation, and health care reform
    Bright: $1,231,976.45
    Griffith: $1,076,369.58
    Total: $2,308,346.03, or $0.030 of every $1.00 the DCCC used on independent expenditures.

  • Voted to restrict reproductive rights, but voted against the budget, climate change legislation, and health care reform
    Childers: $296,766.97
    Total: $2,605,113.00, or $0.034 of every $1.00 the DCCC used on independent expenditures.

  • Voted to restrict reproductive rights, but voted against health care reform
    Boccieri: $2,461,828.65
    Teague: $1,535,780.01
    Total: $6,602,721.66, or $0.086 of every $1.00 the DCCC used on independent expenditures.
These Democratic members of Congress are a net drag on progressive efforts.  Not only do they vote to pass regressive legislation, and not only to they vote against any meaningful progressive legislation, but they vacuum up Democratic money in the process.

It does not matter that these members of Congress are from supposedly conservative districts.  What matters is that your money is being spent to elect these people to Congress.

If you donate to the DCCC, then your money is being spent to restrict reproductive rights for low-income women, and against health care reform.  In 2010, an even larger percentage of DCCC money is likely to be spent defending the 23 Democrats who voted against health care reform, but who voted in favor of restricting reproductive rights for low-income women.

If Republicans held those seats, there would absolutely be no difference in the outcome of legislation in the House.  However, at least more Democratic money would be spent on more progressive candidates.  Giving to these candidates is worse than a waste of money--it actually has a net negative effect on progressivism.

It is time for progressives to pass a Stupak amendment of our own.  We need to stop giving money to organizations that spend money on John Boccieri, Bobby Bright, Travis Childers, Parker Griffith, and Harry Teague.  We are better off without spending a single dime on most, if not all, of these 23 Democrats.

Chris Bowers :: A Stupak amendment of our own

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Thanks, Chris (4.00 / 1)
Now a really good post would be a ranking of these 23 from most to least-Dem leaning district, so we know exactly where to target primaries.

I'm a little sick of primaries (4.00 / 2)
Frankly, I'm a little sick of primaries.  Recruits are spotty, and victories are rare.

I'd much rather just target progressives running in open seats, progressive challengers to Republicans, and defending progressive incumbents.

Or, at least a mix of all four. We keep focusing on primaries. But really, things like a Garamendi replacing a Tauscher via an open seat is just as good.

[ Parent ]
Okay. (4.00 / 1)
Seems a bit odd coming from a man who's working for Sestak, though. That's a campaign that's already paid huge dividends, as I don't need to tell you.

[ Parent ]
Sure (4.00 / 5)
But finding primary challengers in a systematic way is difficult. Basically, we just have to jump on board when they appear. As far as recruiting them goes, not much success.

I'm happy to keep supporting primary challenges that are available.  We have supported several major primary challenges, including Sestak, Donna Edwards, Ed Fallon, and Mark Pera.  Back at MyDD, we supported Ned Lamont.  However, if we want to create more progressives, we need to follow all four paths:

1--Primary challenges to incumbent Democrats
2--Open seats with progressive candidates
3--Defending progressive incumbents
4--Progressive challengers to Republican incumbents

Let's focus on all four. Looking only at primary challenges is limiting.

[ Parent ]
Not that you were saying (4.00 / 1)
I don't mean to accuse you of only focusing on primary challenges.  Don't think you were.  Just want to point out how there are several directions we can go in here.

[ Parent ]
Worth noting that Boswell (IA-03) (4.00 / 3)
seems to have a good voting record since his primary challenge in 2008. He clobbered Iowa progressive Ed Fallon in the primary with 61% of the vote, but in 2009 he has voted for climate change legislation, for the stimulus, against the Stupak amendment, for health care reform, and for the budget.

Cooper seems to have been pressured by the threat of a primary challenge (was anyone even making public noises about running?) into voting for the final health care reform bill.

Not that the other three priorities should suffer.

Great post - thanks for the sharp framing. Some folks at DCCC are going to be very unhappy;)

[ Parent ]
Cooper was targeted for a challenge... (4.00 / 1)
A couple months ago, a coalition of progressive groups publicly announced that they were preparing a legitimate primary challenge against him.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
teague won his primary by just 4% in 2008 (4.00 / 1)
against this guy (don't know his politics, though):


[ Parent ]
He was more progressive than Teague (0.00 / 0)
Bill McCamley is on YouTube.

Also, Republican Steve Pearce may try to run to regain his old seat from Teague after getting crushed by Tom Udall.

I you want health care, work hard. If you want universal health care, vote for liberals.

[ Parent ]
more info on Teague (0.00 / 0)
Just so everyone knows, Teague is getting attacked fiercely because he voted for cap and trade in an oil-producing district.  The former GOP Representative (who lost against Udall for the Senate) is running again and has raised big money already.  (And the more progressive Dem primary opponent from last time whom Teague beat is now running for the Public Regulatory Commission).

[ Parent ]
Amen. (4.00 / 3)

Montani semper liberi

I have another idea (4.00 / 15)
in addition to primaries.

Stupak was so effective because he picked his fight with an issue of great importance to liberals.  He knew how much they wanted hcr so he figured they'd have to give in.

Well, why don't we apply the same principles to the Blue Dogs.  Agriculture is one issue they care about, and every year they ensure massive subsidies to big-ag in order to reap in the contributions.  Every year, ag appropriations passes thanks to votes from progressive dems.

So, next year, when agriculture appropriations comes up, why don't house progressive make it clear that in order to allow passage the Blue Dogs need to ensure passage of some progressive legislation.  

The Blue Dogs can't function without delivering the subsidies, so let's use that as leverage to obtain our goals.

that would require political skills which are beyond (4.00 / 1)
writing the great Tome of Truth!

could our progressive pathetics EVER say:

medicare for all OR fuck archer daniels / monsanto?


It is too full o' the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way

[ Parent ]
Yep (4.00 / 4)
The Farm Bills are always horrendous. UGH.

The problem though would be that GOPers, particularly those from rural districts, also vote for the farm bill.

So Blue Dogs could probably pass an atrocious farm bill even without any progressive support, barring a very large progressive blok.

[ Parent ]
Yes. (4.00 / 2)
Healthcare gave us an opportunity because we knew Republicans would be 100% against it. It was all on the Dems and that gave it focus.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
It's a good idea, but needs added Fuck You (0.00 / 0)
I'm thinking targeting Big Ags subsidies to companies in Blue Dog districts, and redirecting it to market gardens in Harlem. Point out that it's following Cuba's experience in making Havana self-sufficient in food.

Not only would it rub salt into the wound (before it was dropped as part of the negotiating process) but hopefully the admiring mentions of socialism would give some of the Blue Dogs their richly deserved coronaries.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
process question... (0.00 / 0)

I'm not clear on the mechanics from here on out--

Assuming that the House/Senate conference produces some kind of healthcare bill, does it then go back to both chambers of Congress for a final vote?  And if the Stupak abortion amendment is still in there, then what do progressives do?  Vote to kill the whole thing, or swallow hard and live with Stupak for the sake of passing the broader bill?


obviously (4.00 / 3)
Progressives will get rolled. Only a few days ago, the Stupak amendment was considered a poison pill, but almost all the progressives voted for the final bill yesterday anyway.

I don't think anyone will take seriously any "Progressive Block" threats from here on out. It's clear that nothing will be a deal-breaker for any of those people.

I wouldn't count on the public option surviving the conference committee either, for what it's worth. Leadership knows the Progressive Block does not exist.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
pressure them now !? (0.00 / 0)
Why can't we campaign now to pressure for the Pro-Choice Block to make the Stupak Amendment the deal-breaker for the final bill? It's what we were working on a few weeks ago... are we sure that there is no chance whatsoever of that being successful?  

[ Parent ]
We should pressure ActBlue to remove them (4.00 / 7)
from the fundraising pages.

Altmire: $4,000
Bright: $35,000
Barrow: $800 (!)
Boccieri: $70,000
Chandler: $26,000

And so forth. I know ActBlue are the good guys, but that's why it oughtta be easier for us to pressure them to drop these regressive morons. And no, it won't make a big difference. But it's at least a shot across the bow: you can fundraise all you want, but you can't use this method.

"IF Republicans hold..." is DLC Math. Binary (0.00 / 0)
World of Sell Out, OR, Fascist Lackey.

"Progressives" ain't gonna accomplish shit, NOTHING, until we learn how to sell our ideas / HIRE people who can sell ideas --

and standing in front of the imposing building, with yoru big credentials and your fancy degree and your 40 pages Tome Of Truth - that ain't selling your messgae.

I promise over 80%++++ of the American population does NOT want their neighbor's guru, priest, rabbi, sensai, minister, preacher ... in His / Her:

doctor's office,
kid's classroom,
bosses office determining pay and promotion,
legislature dictating what is holy and right,

we lose cuz we can't sell our message, and, by the way, cuz what we do 'accomplish' is shitbag reform like last night.

There is a lot of the world beyond Sell Out and Fascist Lackey ---- AND, funding sell outs is APPALLING stupid.


It is too full o' the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way

More Complicated (4.00 / 2)
I think it is a bit more complicated than you make it out to be.

It is true that Conservadems getting DCCC money is a waste of resources, but the NRCC also spends money targeting them, wasting GOP resources.

If there were no Conservadems in R+10 seats for them to target, all of their money would be targeted straight at progressive or at least somewhat moderate Dems in Democratic seats and swing seats.

Another consideration is that while DCCC money is fungible, they also raise money on their own, and much of that is not fungible. Just because someone decides not to donate $5 to one candidate does not necessarily mean that they are going to donate that $5 to any other candidate. People just don't donate fixed amounts of money like that. So we gain something by having the Conservadems in GOP districts doing their thing, because they take away some GOP fire off of better dems. That is, of course, no excuse for Conservadems in Dem districts - I am talking strictly about people like Bobby Bright.

I definitely agree that DCCC resources should not go first and foremost to red district Blue Dogs. As long as they do, I won't donate to the DCCC, but only to candidates directly.

It is also a problem when the netroots donate to people like Kissell and then they vote like Conservadems, but that is really a matter of poor targeting. Most people knew that many of these Dems were not going to vote like Tammy Baldwin during the 2006 and 2008 campaigns, and people that did not know that were not paying attention.

We should be focusing on LA-02 first and foremost. Then go down the list through all the other remaining Democratic seats that are either in GOP or Bad Democrat hands and elect good Democrats in all of them. (DE-AL, MA-09, MA-02, RI-02, CA-20, CA-18, etc etc.)

Yeah. (0.00 / 0)
Let's look at this systematically. Starting, as you say, with LA-02. And Artur Davis' district, etc. There is a most-efficient way to distribute energy and money to increasing progressive strength in Congress, and we need to figure out what it is.

[ Parent ]
you may be right (4.00 / 3)
but I don't have unlimited resources, and the DCCC will not get another dime from me this cycle.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
So what if (0.00 / 0)
Ahn "Joseph" Cao decided he wanted to switch parties and become a Democrat, would you welcome him? He seems to have one major stumbling block, doesn't agree with abortion being Jesuit. He's also from Louisiana, more conservative terrain, even among blacks. What's the Southern strategy for white candidates? What are the show-stopper issues and what issues can be compromised?

Of course! (4.00 / 6)
I for one would welcome Cao with open arms into the Democratic Party. Then I would also back a primary challenge against him. If I lived in LA-02, I'd vote and campaign against him. Thin if Cao lost the primary, great. If he wins, then fine. I would watch to see whether he changes and quite possibly support another primary against him in another 2 years.

Of course, that's an unlikely hypothetical, but I approach Spectre the same way - I am glad he switched to Dem, but I wholeheartedly support the Sestak primary. The two are in no way contradictory.

The problem is the notion that being welcome in the Democratic Party implies that one is somehow immune to primaries - you know, immune from Democracy.

Nor does being welcome in the Democratic Party imply that one cannot be stripped of seniority, voted out of committee chairs, etc.

That notion has got to go.

[ Parent ]
Welcoming someone (4.00 / 1)
is the antithesis of kneecapping him.

You're in part trying to build up talent in the party, and that's a combination of people who are electable and the resources to get elected.

If you tell someone "come on over, but we're not going to do anything special" and they're somewhat attractive to two teams, well, your recruiting effort will fail.

If there's nothing to be gained from party affiliation, Cao could also just turn Independent.

And while it's nice to think that primary challenges are great for democracy, a 2-year cycle for the House with a stiff primary challenge every time will leave candidates in full-time election mode, and it may be those primary challenges won't leave an electable candidate for November.

There's more to a workable strategy than this.

[ Parent ]
He's welcome (4.00 / 2)
but he has to play by house rules. That means women are citizens. You don't get to crap on the floor if you want to stay inside.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Women are citizens (0.00 / 0)
and so are babies. Some people believe that babies begin at conception. Get used to it. You clicking your heels with all your might doesn't make you the arbitrator of other people's opinions. Try something persuasive for a change.

[ Parent ]
You act like Cao has a leg to stand on (4.00 / 1)
You work with people when they're useful to you, or when they're too influential for you to alienate them. Whereas LA-02 will go Dem in 2010, so Cao's wishes are irrelevant. If he does exactly what he's told, maybe nobody tries to thin out the primary field into one anti-Cao candidate.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
You might be surprised (0.00 / 0)
Sometimes people reward someone working hard for them.  

[ Parent ]
No one should ever give a dime to the national Democrats (4.00 / 8)
The exception would be the Presidential campaign, if you support the candidate.

Anything you send to the national Democrats (any branch) will be divvied up according to their judgment of what's needed where. It's more likely to go to Blue Dogs than to progressives.

The national party can work with BVlue Dogs, but not with us. That tells you a lot.

donations... (0.00 / 0)
my money is only going to the pnhp and cna (grass roots single payer groups) and to people who work with them. no candidate gets my money unless they are first vetted by them.

great post (0.00 / 0)
i think it is time to devote most, if not all, of our energy and resources to electing and sustaining progressives.

Is it legal? (0.00 / 0)
For us to set up a progressive committee the just like the DCCC that can move $$ around at will?


Five are in the DCCC "Frontline Program" - Center for Responsive Politics (4.00 / 1)
I looked up Bright at OpenSecrets/Center for Responsive Politics and found a story on the group of 42 incumbent Dems that are slated to receive help.

To participate, incumbents meet party-defined goals for fund-raising, outreach, volunteer recruitment and other aspects of campaigning. In return, the party operations assist and strengthen their campaigns.

Five of the 23 are in this group to be assisted. Dems are listed first, in descending order of cash on hand. Lots more Blue Dogs are in the group!

What an Insult to the People Who Post Here (4.00 / 2)
To even suggest that anyone here has given money to the DCCC or the DSCC in the past four years.  Giving to individual candidates, sure, but to the DCCC?  You'd have to be brain dead.

Correction - It's not just low-income women (4.00 / 2)
who are affected by the "Stupid" amendment. Any female - low, middle or upper class - who would purchase insurance on the exchange that the healthcare reform bill would establish, would be covered for an abortion unless she also purchased a "rider" for an unplanned pregnancy.

So, who plans for an unplanned pregnancy? That is the question.

So, support the candidate, not the funding organization? (0.00 / 0)
Is that the point here?

I haven't given to the DCCC for a long time (4.00 / 2)
And when they mail me I tell them why in the return envelope. I now look at individuals even if they are not from my state.

How about my tactic folks?

re: tactic (0.00 / 0)
How about my tactic folks?

sounds fine to me!

[ Parent ]

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