The Big Question: Should Obama freeze out health 'no' votes?




Richard Kirsch,
national campaign manager at Health Care for America Now, said:

One thing is clear: the organized base that drives the Democratic Party won’t treat Democrats who voted for and against reform the same way. We’ve already seen angry responses: New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn boycotted a fundraiser she had been scheduled to headline for NY Rep. Michael McMahon because of his no vote. An Albany fundraiser of another NY Rep.  - Michael Arcuri - was picketed by SEIU and USAction and other groups this week. New York’s Working Families Party, a key force in close elections, will deny McMahon and Arcuri their ballot line, endangering both their reelection prospects. Arcuri, Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire and Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch all received strong letters of admonition from labor leaders in their districts before the vote. I expect that Democrats who voted “no” will see little enthusiasm from Democratic voters on November 2nd, even if they are able to escape primary challenges. On the other hand, we can expect organized labor and other key groups that turn out Democratic voters to put all their resources into the tough races held by Democrats who voted for reform. In an off year, when Democratic turnout is usually low, Democrats who voted with the President are certain to see a concerted effort to get the Democratic base to the polls.


Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:
If the shoe were on the other foot and there was a center-right policy being pushed (e.g. A war) and progressive members nearly caused the president to lose, does anyone think the no votes wouldn't pay a price?

The Blue Dogs should be given the opportunity to pay a price for their convictions.



John F. McManus, president of The John Birch Society, said:

During the upcoming 2010 elections, especially for House of Representative seats, the Democratic leadership will do as political party leaders have always done. They will spend their effort and their money where they think they can win.  If it means abandoning some who are potential losers, party chieftains will abandon them.  If it means chastising any who have not followed the "party line" on every issue but can now be persuaded to be a party loyalist for the future, that's where the resources will be spent.
 
Among other pearls of wisdom given in his 1796 Farewell Address, George Washington warned "in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of the Party.  He wanted fellow Americans to be concerned about the nation: its integrity, its Constitution, and its beneficial rules for the country as a whole.  He urged that party loyalty and party factions be a distant second consideration.
 
Too often in these supposedly enlightened times, elected officials are more loyal to their political party than they are to the country and, especially, to the solemn oath they swore to abide by limitations on the federal government contained in the U.S. Constitution. 
 
I don't expect President Obama and the DCCC to be swayed by the comments I have presented here.  But I hope that some readers will realize that there is grave danger ahead for America if present policies are allowed to proceed.  Mr. Obama called for "change."  But the real change needed is to get back to the Constitution and limited government.




A.B. Stoddard,
associate editor and columnist for The Hill, said:
President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress should avoid any perception, whatsoever, that they are punishing Democrats who voted against health care reform. The bill is unpopular in virtually every competitive district this cycle, and is only one in a long line of tough votes Democrats are defending this year. The stimulus and the cap-and-trade bill the House passed in June remain controversial and the narrative that the Democrats and Obama have stretched government too far into the private sector -- the auto industry, energy industry, mortgage industry, our health care system and now the way we get student loans -- is a political killer for conservative Democrats as well as some liberals  back home. Obama and Democratic leaders have enjoyed their greatest majorities, and need to prepare to do with less in the next Congress and the years to come. Midterm elections this fall will almost certainly favor the Republican minority and every vote from every conservative Democrat who hangs on in this cycle will soon be precious to the Democratic leadership indeed.

Ron Walters, professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, said:
I believe that this should be decided here on a case-by-case basis, but the key here is the word "vulnerability."  Fully half of those Democrats who did not support President Obama on health care are conservatives from Southern states.   If the Democratic candidate who did not support the President is vulnerable to defeat by another conservative Democrat then the gain in withdrawing support would be nil, but if there is a chance of picking up someone who would be likely to support the President's agenda going forward, then that person might be supported.  But although the DCCC does not normally support one Democrat over another in primary fights there are ways that messages could be sent to the base regarding whom they should favor.   Democrats should certainly be supported over Republicans in general elections, on the theory that the party caucuses in Congress might have some influence over their votes.  Nevertheless, this is an opportunity to strengthen the Democratic party, regardless of the tradition that it will loose some support and every effort should be made to clarify just who is a "Democrat."


Peter Navarro, professor of economics and public policy at UC Irvine, said:
Obama will be struggling to hold on to both houses of Congress.  Of course, he has to support every Dem – except in a few select districts where a strong democratic challenger might exist and the seat is a “safe one.”


Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, said:
It doesn't seem to me that they can afford to lose any Democrats -- but if they want to give up control of Congress, far be it from me to interfere.....


Bill Press, host of the "Bill Press Show" and a contributor to The Hill's Pundits Blog, said:
I believe there should be a price to pay for political treason. I think he'll ignore it, but my advice to President Obama would be: ignore those who stabbed you in the back by voting against health care reform, and stick with your friends. Bill Press

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