WATSON: Is the President and Rahm Emanuel — former member of the House — are they treading too lightly here, are they not bringing out the big stick against some of those Blue Dog Democrats and saying "we’ve got a once in a four-decade opportunity to get this passed, everyone knows how easy it is for momentum to dissipate, you guys have to get on board and we’ve got to go forward and make sure that everyone has better health care, is covered, and hopefully better quality of outcome?
WATERS: Well that may be difficult for Rahm Emanuel, because don’t forget — he recruited most of them. As when he was over in the Congress, in the leadership, Rahm Emanuel recruited more conservative members and based on some of the information I’m getting, they told them that they could vote the way they wanted to vote, that they would not interfere with what was considered their philosophy about some of these things. So, now the chickens have come home to roost.
Of course they did. Because Rahm believes what the Blue Dogs believe. What’s to interfere with? And let’s remember — Rahm beat the shit out of progressives on the supplemental/IMF and on Waxman-Markey. It’s not like he has a "hands off" policy.
WATSON: Is it time then for some of the progressives Democrats such as yourself, who didn’t make those same promises and didn’t do recruitment, to go very public in your demands that either these folks step up or that some primary challenges be run against them similar to what happened in Connecticut against Joe Lieberman in 2006?
WATERS: Well the thing about it is, you can’t make empty threats of course. As I’m talking to you today, and trying to be very honest about the Blue Dogs, who they are how they got there, which is a step beyond what we would normally do, I intend certainly to continue to bring clarity to what is going on. I will be meeting with the progressives and Barbara Lee and the Black Caucus and the Tricaucus to talk about what we do.
But many of these Blue Dogs represent districts that have strong pockets of poverty and minorities and they’re not representing them with this approach that they’re taking. And so I don’t know whether or not there will be people running against them. Certainly we’re not organized to run anybody against anybody, that’s not normally what’s done. But there may be people out there listening and observing all of this who may get motivated based on what they’re seeing, and throw their hat into the ring.
Waters says that the progressives in the House will revolt if the Senate passes a bill without a strong public plan (thank you Maxine, that’s all we’re asking):
KERY ELEVELD: There are reports out of the Senate Finance Committee today that they may be dropping the public option in their negotiations. Do you think that’s going to sell in the House?
WATERS: No. As a matter of fact, that’s a kill for sure for the progressives. For the majority, I think, of our members a public option is a compromise – we wanted single payer as you know, and we backed off because they said that was going to be impossible to do. Again they brought up the more conservative elements, etc. etc., and so we will not support any bill that does not have a public option in it.
Watson and Waters are right on target. As we’ve said from the start of the Public Plan whip count effort:
We don’t have much influence over the Blue Dogs. The White House does. If you make failure the price of giving up on a public plan, Rahm works for you.
The only thing we can really do is help build a progressive roadblock, and make Rahm twist Blue Dog arms if he wants to pass health care. That’s it. That’s the end game.
Thanks to Rep. Waters for once again being the one brave enough to talk openly about what’s going on.