Republican Congressmen Reacting Badly To Being Treated Like Ordinary Americans When It Comes To Healthcare

This is Healthcare Hypocrites Month for DWT. Blue America is working with our allies at Daily Kos, Americans United For America PAC and Americans For Change to expose Republicans who voted to repeal healthcare for their constituents while getting government-funded healthcare for themselves. We have ads up and running in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Florida and New Jersey so far. Some of the Republicans are wily. Sandy Adams, for example, claims that she turned down the congressional package. And she did. That's because she's already getting government subsidized healthcare because her husband is a circuit court judge and signed up on his taxpayer-funded benefits package. That's more than hypocritical; it's dishonest and an affront to the people in Seminole, Orange, Brevard and Volusia counties who elected her. You can hear the ad running on WIXC (Brevard's Newstalk 1060) here:

But yesterday Marin Cogin reported on an ironic twist to this sordid story of right-wing heartlessness, greed and hypocrisy. Some of the Republicans who did turn down the congressional healthcare packages, in the hopes of not looking like complete hypocrites, are now sorry.

[T]alk to some of the 16 freshman lawmakers who have declined their government health benefits, and you’ll hear... about tough out-of-pocket expenses, pre-existing conditions and support for health reforms that would help those who struggle with their coverage. As they venture into the free market for health insurance, these lawmakers-- many of whom swept into office fueled by tea party anger over the health care law-- are facing monthly premiums of $1,200 and fears of double-digit rate hikes.

The experience has caused some of them to think harder about the “replace” part of the “repeal and replace” mantra the GOP has adopted regarding the health care law.

“I have a niece who has pre-existing conditions, and I worry about her if she was ever to lose her job,” said Florida Rep. Richard Nugent, one of the freshman lawmakers who declined federal health insurance benefits.

Every single House Republican voted to repeal the health care law last month.

“I can simply, honestly say that this is going to impact my wife and I to a fairly serious degree, like it would any average American out there,” said first-time Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois.

Walsh’s wife has a pre-existing condition and will need a procedure in the coming months, but because he declined federal benefits, they’re paying for it out of pocket. Meanwhile, Walsh is contributing to a health savings account to cover his expenses.

“It’s a cost we will feel, a cost I will have to pick up. I won’t turn down benefits because I have something to fall back on or because I’m independently wealthy,” he said.

Maryland Rep. Andy Harris caused an uproar during freshman orientation when he demanded to know how long it would take for his federal health insurance policy to kick in. Since then, the question of whether lawmakers who ran against the health law should accept their own government benefits has become a favorite game of partisan ping-pong in Washington. Democrats are demanding that the lawmakers who voted to deny reform benefits to the American public turn down their own federal employee health insurance, and Republicans have argued that accepting benefits from the government is not inconsistent with GOP support for employer-based coverage.

Roughly 85 percent of federal employees get insurance benefits from the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Among the freshman Republican class, the number opting out is only slightly higher: About 18 percent are on record as having denied insurance coverage. Most — including Reps. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Michael Grimm of New York and Renee Ellmers of North Carolina — are accepting the benefit plans provided to federal employees. Ellmers took some heat from local North Carolina media for telling a radio show that “it costs a lot of money to be here in Congress” as a way of justifying her health coverage.
The current FEHB program allows policyholders to pick and choose from a variety of coverage options. In that way, their experience with insurance policies is akin to the state-based insurance exchanges that will allow citizens to shop around for their policies beginning in 2014.

The freshman members who declined insurance have had to find other ways to cover their health needs.

Louisiana Rep. Jeff Landry is enrolled in an individual health savings account. New York Rep. Nan Hayworth, an ophthalmologist, gets employer-based coverage through her husband, who is a doctor. Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado purchases his plan through an insurer in his home state.

Nugent, a former sheriff, doesn’t receive federal employee benefits, choosing instead to purchase a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan for retired county employees, which he said costs about $1,200 a month for his family. Still, he said, his niece’s experience has contributed to his support for ending coverage bans on pre-existing conditions. “One of the key components with the ‘replace’ [bill] was to make sure we take care of people who have pre-existing conditions,” he said.

As the owner of an automobile dealership with about 150 employees, Rep. Scott Rigell, a freshman from Virginia, said he’s had firsthand experience with the rising costs of insurance for business owners.

“I’ve never disputed that true reform is needed,” Rigell said. “Every year we brace ourselves for the renewal — is it going to be 18 percent or 25 percent or 30 percent [more expensive]? It’s going to well exceed first the overall level of inflation and also going to well exceed any ability on our part to raise our prices by anything approaching that. So it is terribly burdensome,” he added.

“Right now, there are 14 some million Americans and growing who are out there in the individual market who have a much tougher battle,” said Walsh, who has an individual health savings account.

“I suppose you could say that I’m dealing with this as any average American would. This will financially impact us,” said Walsh.

Now that Republicans have made good on their pledge to repeal the health care law, some of them are already feeling pressure to offer policy solutions that would address the problems in the insurance market-- ones that the new members, having declined benefits, should have some experience with.

One new Republican House member, Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, recently told a local TV program that he needed a commitment from GOP leaders that they’d offer their own health care proposals before he voted to repeal the Democrats’ bill.

“My position during the campaign and today is, let’s reform the reform or repeal and replace. And so, I wasn’t going vote for it,” Duffy said. “But I went and spoke to the leadership, and I got a commitment that we were going to bring forward our ideas on this replacement bill.”

Regardless of lawmakers’ reasons for accepting or declining federal health benefits, Gardner said the decision shouldn’t be used for political potshots.

“Our decision was not based on efforts by the Democrats to try to say that health insurance benefits and the health care bill are one and the same,” said Gardner. “Those complaints are completely misdirected. That’s apples and oranges. Our choice was simply made on what works for our family.”

If you'd like to contribute to our Healthcare Hypocites Campaign... here's the ActBlue page.

Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes State Senator Jim Wilson (D-OK)

A labor union president once told me that the worst Democrat in Congress, at least from the point of view of ordinary working families, is Oklahoma reactionary Dan Boren. I've never been able to find anyone to persuade me that he was wrong. The video above should explain that pretty well.

Today Blue America is very proud to present the courageous populist who's decided Boren doesn't deserve a free ride from Oklahoma Democrats. State Senator Jim Wilson, long considered Oklahoma's most pro-family state legislator, made up his mind after Boren voted in favor of the anti-Choice Stupak amendment and then against the overall healthcare reform bill-- twice. Healthcare reform has been one of Jim's signature issues as a state Rep and state Senator. He'll be joining is for a free-ranging discussion below in the comments section.

Jim, whose political career has been dedicated to the most needy in his community and who has fought a long and unrelenting battle on behalf of public education, the environment and health care reform, decided to take the plunge into national politics when his congressman, Dan Boren, once again joined the Republican Party in trying to derail healthcare reform.

"I've been working on healthcare in the state legislature for 10 years," Jim told me. "Oklahoma ranks 50th in overall delivery of healthcare statewide... Health care costs are escalating at the compound rate of 6.7% per year. This year's increase for every man, woman and child, directly or indirectly, is $428. That represents income that can't be used elsewhere in the economy which removes, to some extent, discretionary spending which in turn hurts other business or quality of life segments."

There doesn't seem to be a resulting justification for the increased expenditures. One-third of health care spending doesn't seem to help or prevent sickness. If in Oklahoma we were to return the waste in health care to the people, the savings would be equivalent to all the state taxes paid by individuals and businesses. In Oklahoma we have in statute a floor of 60% for a medical loss ratio. The new federal reform legislation will require a medical loss ratio of not less than 85% for big groups and not less than 80% for small groups. The savings in Oklahoma will be at least $210 million.

Just automating health records in Oklahoma would save $800 million and 750 lives annually. Nationally we have one medical error per patient day and have an 80% error rate on provider billing. Cleveland clinic has to have 1,400 clerks to support 2,000 doctors-- and it's more cost effective than any other major provider with the possible exception of Mayo and the VA.

To improve quality of life for our citizens we should strive to improve disposable income. If we are resistant to increased pay or if increases in pay are mitigated by rising health care costs, we owe it to the citizens to make the health care system more efficient which will produce better health outcomes at less cost.

Jim, a former combat marine in Vietnam, who walked away with the valuable lessons of that tragic conflict, would be another voice of reason in Congress regarding Afghanistan. His astonishingly progressive record in Oklahoma shows what kind of a Member of Congress he would be. We can be absolutely certain we'd be trading in the worst Democrat for someone who will be giving Members like Alan Grayson and Raul Grijalva a run for their money! After Boren crossed the aisle again to support Boehner, Wall Street and the GOP in their jihad against regulating the money-changers in the temple, Jim issued a simple and direct statement that shows the contrast between the two of them:

“While driving around Eastern Oklahoma in my pickup truck, I have met thousands of people whose lives were ruined by the crash just two years ago. How can Dan Boren forget about those people and vote for his donors instead? It's a shame that he’s been in Washington so long he’s forgotten about the people in Eastern Oklahoma... This is common sense legislation. I have not met a single person on the campaign trail begging me to be compassionate to Wall Street. Dan Boren needs to spend less time in Washington with his Wall Street lobbyist friends and more time in Eastern Oklahoma."

The last two mangy Blue Dogs we're trying to dislodge in this cycle are John Barrow-- who faces off against Regina Thomas on July 20-- and then Boren, who will be facing Jim on July 27. If you can, please consider donating to his campaign so that Jim can continue getting out his message to Oklahoma Democrats. By the way, that labor union president I referred to above? Nowhere to be seen on this race-- or in Regina's. I guess we should be happy his union isn't endorsing their Blue Dog opponents this time.

Primary Season: Next Up -- NC Runoff + Georgia, Utah & Oklahoma

Obama Joyce_9ad0a.jpg

[Moment of triumph for Arkansas progressives- Joyce Elliott beats Robbie Wills]

The U.S. Senate would have been considerably less reactionary-- and less a vehicle for wealthy and corrupt corporate interests-- but Blanche Lincoln won a close reelection race last night. There isn't a lot we know about Bill Halter and I doubt he would have turned out to be some kind of a progressive knight in shining armor but there is one thing we do know about him: he's not Blanche Lincoln. His first priority was never going to be to kill the Estate Tax or try to undercut Democrats at every turn-- from Social Security and health-care reform to Employee Free Choice. Lincoln has had a disgraceful and hackish career even when she was just a slimy Blue Dog in the House using another name (Blanche Lambert). Watching her seamlessly transition to K Street would have been more than natural. But, alas, she'll still be forcing the Senate Democrats to water down every bill and make each even less family friendly and more in line with her corporate donors' avaricious self interest. Unless-- as is very likely-- she loses in November to corporate shill GOP slob John Boozman.

There was some excellent news out of Arkansas as well. Proven progressive leader Joyce Elliott beat conservative hack Robbie Wills in the second C.D. (Little Rock) and will now face Karl Rove crooked protege Tim Griffin. Please give her a hand (and whatever you can afford). She's a Blue America endorsed candidate and you can donate here. She'll need the help. If she wins in November she'll be the first African American elected from Arkansas since the mid-1800s.

But there's no getting around the tremendous loss last night in California's 36th district, where voters decided to give reactionary warmonger Jane Harman another term instead of doing the sensible thing and electing Marcy Winograd. We'll just have to learn to fight harder and smarter.

But primary season is far from over and there are still plenty of messages Inside-the-Beltway Democrats need to hear. The next key races coming up to focus on are the North Carolina Senate primary that pits progressive champion Elaine Marshall, the front-running, against an ambitious but unaccomplished empty suit being pushed by Bob Menendez. That comes up June 22 and yesterday Durham Mayor Bill Bell endorsed her. This past weekend the National Federation of Democratic Women announced she has been selected as the Outstanding Democratic Woman Elected Official for 2010. Former opponent Ken Lewis, the guy who came in third, not only endorsed her -- he joined her campaign as chairman! Please consider adding your support here.

That same day, the 22nd, Utah Democrats have the most exciting and meaningful primary they've had in my memory when progressive champion Claudia Wright faces struggling Blue Dog incumbent Jim Matheson. Matheson has asked the voters to look at his record and she is responding to that challenge.

"Matheson has shown little if no leadership in his 10 years in office and the Second District deserves better" Claudia told us. "I believe he voted for the repeal of DADT simply due to the fact that I am in this race... [and] the fact that he attended the Grand Marshal Reception for Pride the weekend, something he has never done, shows he is pandering the base." Matheson appeared like a fish out of water at the reception unable to interact with anyone there. He left before the annual Pride Awards were presented and skipped the actual parade at Washington Park entirely. Claudia was given the opportunity to address Pride, and took part in the Pride Parade and was welcomed with rousing applause at every turn.

"I also question the timing of his introducing the two wilderness bills this last month, one of which trades land destroyed by off road vehicles and snowmobiles at the Snowbird Ski Resort for pristine wilderness." she said. And at a press conference on Monday, she questioned his statement last week "that we need to look at safety issues when it comes to deep water oil rigs," as too little too late. "He has been on the Subcommittee for Energy and Environment for ten years, where has his leadership been?" Energy companies know exactly where-- and have been very grateful.

Following a successful fundraiser Monday evening, Claudia is now heading out on her Wright Way Tour throughout the sprawling Second District to meet with voters and tell them of her pledge to revisit them each month from DC to share ideas and issues with them, something Matheson doesn't seem to believe it-- and certainly doesn't do.

And that brings us to July, a month with two important races for anyone interested in taking the Democratic Party back from corporately funded conservative Blue Dogs. Both races pit proven progressive state legislators against 2 of the most reactionary Democrats in Congress, John Barrow and Dan Boren. In GA-12 we see a re-match with former state Senator Regina Thomas, except this year Barrow doesn't have the support of President Obama like he did when he lied his way back into office in 2008. Although Barrow is running a well-financed media campaign, Regina has a grassroots operation and the power of constituent rage over Barrow's attempt to undermine health-care reform and other initiatives backed by President Obama and the constituents who Barrow has routinely ignored in favor of his country club friends who vote for the Republicans anyway.

The following week (July 27) anti-health care fanatic Dan Boren is facing Oklahoma state Senator Jim Wilson, a health-care reform champion. It is also a classic battle between an outrageously corrupt and entrenched incumbent and a reform-minded clean-government type. Like Matheson, Boren has wormed his way onto natural resources committees where he's in line to get tremendous bribes -- disguised as campaign contributions (he's the #1 House member, including Republicans, on the payroll of Big Oil in this cycle!) -- and sabotage effective regulation of the predatory corporate instincts of his paymasters.

You can help us defeat Matheson, Barrow and Boren-- and replace them with Claudia Wright, Regina Thomas and Jim Wilson-- at Blue America's Blue Dog page.

Live Chat: Blue America is Proud To Welcome Utah Democrat Claudia Wright

Political punditry will never be the same if Claudia Wright is elected to Congress from Utah's sprawling second congressional district. The district encompasses the whole southern part of the state, the whole eastern part of the state and a nice chunk of Salt Lake City and its southern metro area, from Millcreek and Murray down to Sandy. Almost 60% of the district's population lives in the Salt Lake City area; the rest of the huge district is mostly beautiful park land. It's also Utah's relatively "progressive" district with a PVI of R +17-- which sounds pretty dismal until you look at the first CD (PVI of R +22) and the third district (PVI of R +26). McCain "only" won 57% of the vote in the 2nd (64% in the first and 67% in the 3rd). But the second has been sending a Democrat to the House since 2000-- sort of.

The congressman from the second is reactionary Blue Dog Jim Matheson, son of two-term Governor Scott Matheson, and he pretty much always votes with the Republicans on important issues. He first got elected by attacking Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore for his health-care reform proposals. Needless to say, Matheson was an eager aisle crosser when it came to the recent votes on health-care reform. And three weeks ago Democratic activists in his district -- despite a parachute jump in by wheeler/dealer Steny Hoyer-- were eager to deny Matheson the Democratic Party endorsement. They forced him into an open primary with today's Blue America endorsee, Claudia Wright.

Inside-the-Beltway pundits and political "pros" insist that Democrats only win in red areas like UT-02 by running on Republican talking points. Ignoring the outstanding campaigns run by working family champions -- from Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) to Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), each of whom ousted an entrenched Republican incumbent in a "red" district -- the conventional wisdom is that only corporate shills like Jim Matheson can win in places like Utah. We know conventional wisdom is wrong and ignores the reality of the district. And so does Claudia:

Mr. Matheson and the party wasn't prepared for the reception he got at the mass meetings we had last March. He had no idea how angry he made his constituents. He was booed and jeered... The party has misread its membership and misread the fact that we are witnessing a political realignment, not just here in Utah, but across the country. The alignment is shifting right to left and top to bottom. A Large number of delegates at our convention were actually moderate Republicans who are now more at home with our party than they are with the extremist right of the Republican Party. Grassroots candidates like myself agree with tea partiers in that we need to get corporate money and special interests out of politics so that our representatives are accountable to their constituents and only their constituents.

Claudia is running as a full on champion of working families and her campaign platform is about the issues that most concern real people, not the nonsense manufactured by Republican propaganda puppets like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity to persuade voters that hating each other is more important than electing people who will help protect them from powerful predatory special interests and the politicians (and media outlets) they own.

While the banking bailout may have been necessary, handing over billions of dollars of taxpayer money with no strings attached doesn't serve the interests of working families. We gave all this money to big banks so they could give enough credit to small businesses to jump-start employment but the banks used that money for their own purposes rather than what it was meant for. That's what I mean by "no-strings-attached;" it should have been a requirement that that money be used to loosen up credit for small businesses. There needs to be much more oversight of Wall Street than what is being proposed in the new legislation Congress is working on.

I'd like to ask you to consider two things now. Surf over to our comments section below to meet Claudia and also please consider making a contribution to her campaign through Blue America's ActBlue page. In fact everyone who donates to Claudia's campaign this weekend (offer ends Sunday at midnight, PT) will have their name entered in a contest to win an autographed copy of Al Franken's book The Truth AND an autographed copy of the Al Franken DVD God Spoke; the winner gets both.


[More of the same-- Heck and Baird, Inc.]

Brian Baird was one of the 39 disgruntled rogue Democrats who voted against health-care reform last November, along with a gaggle of mostly reactionary Blue Dogs-- from John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (Blue Dog-SD) to Parker Griffith (Blue Dog, now R-AL) and Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC). Baird was the only Washington Democrat to cross the aisle and join John Boehner and Eric Cantor in trying to defeat healthcare reform.

State Senator Craig Pridemore, the Blue America-endorsed candidate for Baird's House seat isn't challenging Baird to a primary battle. Thankfully Baird is retiring from politics-- although not before endorsing a multimillionaire corporate lackey to take his place, Denny Heck. All the lobbyists, special interests and business-as-usual shills are backing Heck. Democratic grassroots and netroots activists in WA-03 are what's propelling Craig's campaign.

The video below explains Blue America's enthusiasm for Craig a lot better than I could in a few hyperbolic words. Please take a look at it as he explains why he supports a clearly flawed healthcare reform bill and how clearly he sees how corporate money is behind almost everything that's wrong Inisde-the-Beltway.

“As I’ve traveled around Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, one of the things that’s clear is that our citizens and our businesses are hurting. We need to step up and help our small businesses and workers succeed by implementing reforms to reduce their health care costs. The problem right now is that we have a health care system dominated by insurance and pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street.

“I believe we deserve a public option. It is essential that we encourage competition in the health care market place, and the only way to do that is to hold the special interests in Washington, D.C. accountable to the struggling families across our nation. I also know that the bill before us means progress. It will provide coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and end the inhumane practice of cutting off those with pre-existing conditions.

“What’s clear is that my opponent, Denny Heck, is standing on the sidelines when it comes to this issue. He wants to wait it out, see what happens, and then decide where he stands. Make no mistake, I support health care reform and I support a public option and when elected, will step up and do everything I can to lower costs and check the power of the special interests in Washington, D.C.”

What hacks like Baird and Heck don't want to understand is that less privileged, more exposed families than their own, right in southwest Washington very much need the reforms offered in the health-care bill neither of them is supporting. Yesterday the House Energy and Commerce Committee put out a report that shows how the bill would impact Baird's constituents:

Continue reading »

"Live Chat " Blue America PAC endorses Connie Saltonstall, Progressive Challenger To Bart Stupak


(John Amato: Please donate to Connie at Blue America's 2010 act blue page here.)

From the 2008 Democratic Party Platform:

"The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”

Considering that “strong and unequivocal” support it’s almost impossible to believe that a comprehensive health care reform bill passed with all Democratic votes and signed by a Democratic president would end up restricting access to abortion, isn’t it? Indeed, one would have assumed that any such bill would require coverage for abortion for all Americans. And yet, in one of the most naked acts of political opportunism we’ve seen in quite some time, a small minority of anti-choice Democrats in the congress have managed to force the pro-choice majority to make it difficult for women to obtain access to abortion coverage even if they pay for it with their own money. And no one is more responsible for this than the congressional representative from Michigan’s first district, Bart Stupak.

From the moment the administration announced that they were going ahead with health care reform this year, the anti-choice groups geared up prepared to stage a phony hissy fit the moment the details of any bill were announced. In what turns out to have been a useless compromise, pro-choice Democrats agreed to keep the status quo of the Hyde Amendment, (something that they had been fighting since its inception more than 30 years ago.) But that wasn’t good enough for Congressman Stupak who insisted on attaching his own amendment which further restricted access to abortion. With the generous help of the Republicans (who voted against the final House bill anyway) he got it passed. And that set the stage for Ben Nelson to run the same game in the Senate leading us to a ridiculous game of chicken in which Bart Stupak and his dwindling band of anti-choice zealots are what stands between America and the most ambitious plan to reform the health care system in decades. He simply doesn’t care about anything but his own narrow agenda.

One of his constituents, Connie Saltonstall, was appalled. She couldn’t believe that her congressman would actually vote against health care reform based upon the lie that the Nelson Amendment would force everyone to pay for abortions. She had personally heard him promise months ago that regardless of what happened with his amendment he would vote for health care reform, and now he said he was willing to let the bill die rather than budge from his dishonest and inexplicable position. She waited to see if anyone would step up to challenge this man and when no one did, she decided that she had no choice but to do it herself.

She says:

“Michigan and the First District are facing enormous challenges and we cannot afford to sacrifice solutions for individual agendas. Stupak is co-chair of the Pro-Life Caucus and is putting their interests above those of his district. No federal funds have been used for abortions since 1977, and that provision will stay in effect without his amendment. In my opinion, Bart Stupak has shown that he is willing to block important legislation to support his own agenda at the expense of those he was elected to represent.”

I had the opportunity to meet Ms Saltonstall last week and I was very impressed. She is a person of obvious intelligence, experience and personal charm. Just as important for Blue America, she is a stalwart progressive who knows what she believes and isn’t afraid to speak truth to power. And yes, she is a pro-choice woman who believes that everyone has a right to their religious beliefs but that no one has a right to deny the constitutional rights of others. She’s the real deal.

I asked her at some point in our chat how she could deal with the awful pressures and influences of national politics and she replied with a powerful comment. She told me that she had lost a beloved child some years back --- and once the worst has happened to you, nothing ever frightens you again.

I believed her absolutely. Those Villagers aren’t going to scare her one bit.

Blue America is proud to endorse Connie Saltonstall for the Democratic nomination in Michigan's 1st congressional district. Like the National Organization for Women and Democracy for America, which have likewise endorsed her in recent days, we believe that she represents the most important values of the Democratic party. If you'd care to donate to her campaign you can do so here.

Please help me welcome Connie Saltonstall to Blue America for her first online chat with the national netroots.

Bill Halter to primary Blanche Lincoln: Blue America News

Good times, good times. Blue America PAC was out in front of the entire blogosphere when we targeted Blanche Lincoln as being a major obstructionist to health-care reform in America. We made our decision to raise and spend a ton of money to highlight how she was a typical ConservaDem who was more interested in keeping the health insurance industry rolling in cash than helping Americans in the struggle with health care. You can see all three ads that we ran with your help against her here: Campaign For Health Care Choice.

Howie Klein interviewed Lt. Governor Bill Halter before we started our ad campaign back in June of 2009 to see if he was interested in running against Blanche and he told Howie he wasn't at that time, but I think he sees his opening now.

Howie has much more:

Blue America has been busy all year letting Arkansas voters know that Blanche Lincoln may have a "D" next to her name but when it comes to the key issues that impact ordinary working families and pits their interests against Big Business and Wall Street, she was, in effect, a dependable Republican shill. Politics for her has become cultivating K Street and then fast-talking the Democratic base back home. We helped make that more and more difficult for her. And now, with her approval ratings the lowest of any member of the Senate and with a virtual certainty of defeat at the hands of any Republican, she has a real primary on her hands.

This morning Lt. Governor Bill Halter declared the would enter the May 18th primary against her. (Next week is the deadline for filing.) I spoke with Halter a few months ago and he said he had no intention of running. I feel certain he didn't. But as Lincoln's approval in the state collapsed, he has come to realize that he is the only chance the Democrats have to hold onto the seat.


Blue America just added Bill to our Send The Democrats A Message ActBlue page, in case you'd like to help him get his campaign message out. Blanche has raised over $7 million so far and has over $5 million on hand much of it from the sleaziest special interests in Washington (and Arkansas).

We've added him to our new: 'Send The Democrats A Message They Can Understand' and you can send him donations there.

Right now Blue America is working on interviewing him again so we can find out as much as we can for you on where he stands on the issues.

Kos writes:

Blanche Lincoln responds to Halter's candidacy:

“I’m excited about today and I’m excited to be an Arkansas Democrat. I’ll file for re-election and continue fighting for Arkansas every day here at home and in the United States Senate. I know that I am the target of both political extremes but that’s what makes this campaign so important to all of us. This Senate seat belongs to Arkansas, not to outside groups that are angry I don’t answer to them.”

Yup. Extremists like the League of Conservation Voters. Extremists like the Democratic Party (and the Obama Administration).

Blanche Lincoln whines about Blue America/outside group ads, but votes for cloture on health care

Media error

[H/t Heather]

Blanche Lincoln was complaining today about all those outside group ads that were attacking her, but in the end she says she'll vote for cloture today.

Blue America has been running another massive media blitz in Arkansas demanding give us an up or down vote.

Lincoln: For months now groups from outside my state have assigned various motives for my deliberations on health care and tried to define the meaning of my vote. According to the last tally there has been more than 3.2 million dollars worth of media ads that have been purchased from my home state of Arkansas by groups from outside of our state. certainly none by me. And most with my name in the ad. These outside groups seem to think this is all about my re-election. I simply think they don't know me very well. I'm focused on my opportunity to to influence the final version of health care reform legislation in a way that most helps my state. That's why the people of Arkansas sent me here.


I will not allow my decision on this vote to be dictated by pressure from my political opponent nor the liberal interest groups from outside Arkansas that threaten with their money political opposition. The multitudes of emails and ads that we have received, Unbelievable types of threats about what they're going to do and how they're going to behave.

She's trying to feign shock that her name showed up in ads targeted at her in her own state over this issue. Jaysus. Our problem is that we know her too well. If she were truly representing her state, then she would get behind the public option and stop joining with the Republicans, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Lieberman to kill it. She does have a D in her title and she should start acting like one. Why is Lincoln so against the public option and using right-wing language to define it?

She has an opportunity to be part of a great moment in our history. She's a politician looking to survive. She hates that she's running for re-election at this time. Well Blanche, sometimes you have to do the right thing and not put your own political career before the entire country's health care. Right now she's saying she won't vote for it. If she joins with the Holy Joes, then she votes at her own political peril.

Here's Blue America's new ad that is running now.

Here's our Blue America Act Blue fundraising page on health care.

(h/t Heather for the video)

Blanche Lincoln can't hide under a "Little Rock"

Our new Blue America ad is running all over Arkansas and people are into it.

Roll Call featured it, so you know Blanche is not a happy camper -- and that's a good thing. She was elected as a Democratic Senator and hasn't said if she'll give the health care bill an up-or-down vote. Simply amazing.

Please join in Blue America's Campaign For Health Care Choice

Roll Call writes:

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), facing the prospect of a tough re-election bid next year, is under pressure from a liberal activist group to support a motion to proceed on health care reform legislation that is poised to hit the Senate floor next week. Lincoln has been on the fence on whether she would support a bill with a government-funded public insurance option. The Blue America political action committee is hitting statewide Arkansas cable television with a 30-second spot demanding that Lincoln “allow an up-or-down vote on the public option.” “Blanche Lincoln claims to fight for health care reform. But whose interest does she really represent?” the ad’s voiceover says as the spot opens. “Lincoln has taken thousands from PACs from Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Aetna and United Health Group — over $2 million from the health and insurance industries combined. That’s why 56 percent of voters think these contributions hurt her judgment on health care,” the ad continues. “With one in four Arkansans uninsured, let’s save sponsorships for the race cars. Help Sen. Lincoln get back on track.”

And Digby finds this very good article about the new ad that you helped pay for.

Democratic Strategist:

BlueAmerica's latest Lincoln ad is very tough, and graphically amusing, depicting Senator Lincoln all gussied up like a NASCAR driver, only the ads pasted all over her jumpsuit are for her many health care contributors. Slide the right-side bar at the link down and view three more 'Harry and Louise' style ads depicting a couple at the kitchen table wondering why Sen. Lincoln is so concerned about health insurers, when they can hardly pay their bills. The idea here is to build constituent awareness about her foot-dragging and get them to call her and urge her to get on the side of consumers, who need a public option to have any leverage with private insurers.

Some I guess would argue that these ads may do more harm than good if they alienate Lincoln from her progressive supporters. If she is that petty, however, she would probably vote wrong anyway. So I say it's time for the full-court press. The ads are honest, both in the facts presented and in depicting the utter bewilderment many of her constituents -- especially those Democrats who voted for her -- are feeling at her reluctance to even allow a vote on a measure that would let maybe 10 percent of Americans chose government health insurance over private insurance. Will Lincoln be a corporate lackey or champion of the people? Maddow puts the campaign to win Lincoln's support in perspective right here.

Howie Klein has a great post up detailing exactly where the ads are playing and in what cities.

Blue America's new Blanche Lincoln ad: Demand an Up or Down vote!

Media error

Blue America just produced a new ad that highlights the many payoffs she has received from the health Insurance industry and demands that she starts representing her constituents who unequivocally support the public option. I'm not much of a NASCAR fan, but you can see that the comparison we use in this ad matches her role well.

If you can, please help us to be able to blanket the entire state of Arkansas with this ad, because for a Democratic Senator to filibuster health-care reform is to become an active member of the teabagger/Republican party. She needs to vote for cloture and give Americans the right to an up-or-down vote and to be true to the will of the good people of Arkansas.

Howie Klein writes:

No, as we've been telling you all year, there's only one weak link worth trying to beat into submission: Arkansas' corrupt and reactionary-- don't those two terms always seem to find a way of cuddling up with each other?-- senior senator, Blanche Lincoln. Blue America has run TV spots against Lincoln all summer and fall and she's watched her re-elect numbers dwindle down to a place where if a serious opponent-- i.e., one with big bucks to buy advertising-- jumped into the race, she would lose. She may lose anyway, even though her current opponents would probably do better if they toured together as a carnival show. Yesterday the RNC started trying to push her to vote with Republicans-- as she so often does-- and against health care reform.

This week Blue America and our friends at Donkey on the Edge have a brand new ad for Arkansas voters to look at-- the fourth in our series-- and the message is very different from the Republicans'. By all means, be the first to view it-- and please consider making a contribution of our Campaign for Health Care Choice page so we can run it deep and wide.

If you live in Arkansas and contact Senator Lincoln, please let me know. Contact me at We need your help and so does America.

Paid for by Blue America PAC,, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.