History will remember this week as the one in which a tremendous stride was made down the road towards universal healthcare. But reactionary Georgia Blue Dog, John Barrow, was on the wrong side of history. A stranger to his own district and out of touch with its people, he voted twice in committee and 4 times on the floor of the House against healthcare reform. He voted against the bill last Sunday, causing an explosion of anger among Democrats back home. And then he arrogantly voted against the Senate reconciliation on Thursday evening, one of only 32 conservative Democrats to cross the aisle and voted with the GOP. But voting with the GOP is his default position on most everything. Does that make sense?
Barrow was driven out of his own Athens-based district when it was gerrymandered to make a home for another Republican. He fled to Savannah, which has a strong Democratic base– a base he has studiously ignored while courting the wealthy (Republican) power structure. Although GA-12 leans Democratic– Gore won there with 52%, Bush and Kerry were in a virtual dead heat and Obama won with 54%– Barrow consistently votes as though it were a deep red district and he’s been one of the worst-voting Blue Dogs– but, only when it matters; he supports Democrats when it comes to naming post offices or honoring sports teams.
Today Blue America is honored to formally endorse former state Senator Regina Thomas, a strong advocate for working families with a long record in her district and in the state capitol. Regina will join us in the comments section (below) at 2pm (EST/11am on the West Coast). She offers her neighbors in eastern Georgia a far different outlook than John Barrow. Regina’s perspective on governance is pure FDR– the government is there to protect us from forces outside of our own control, whether that be foreign enemies or domestic predators. If Barrow’s #1 concern is holding down taxes for the powerful and immensely rich transnational corporations that have financed his political career, Regina’s concern is that the rich and powerful pay their fair share so that the society that has enriched them continues to prosper and thrive for everyone.
Although Barrow often votes against Democratic initiatives– and has done so with far more frequency since Obama was inaugurated– Regina was still surprised he so blatantly voted against the interests of his own constituents this week when he, once again, joined the GOP in opposing healthcare reform. She told me she couldn’t believe he “had the nerve” to do it. She drew an interesting parallel to the one place where Barrow does support Obama: war spending.
“The cost of the Afghanistan occupation and war is astounding– and very harmful to our country. The Congressman from GA-12 did not hesitate to vote yes– to send more troops to Afghanistan which equates to billions of dollars. And those dollars can be more usefully spent on providing health care for 119,542 in this district; or the money could be used to hire 11,946 public safety officers; or we could keep Music, Art and PE in our schools by hiring 7,727 teachers; or we can provide 94,664 scholarships for our college students, or 87,834 Pell Grants, Or how about if we provide 3,888 affordable housing units in the 12th district, or give 265,922 children health care? Another way to look at that cost is to think about how we would benefit as a society if 66,278 children were to attend Head Start… we need more teachers; we can in one year hire 8,040 Elementary School Teachers in the 12th CD. This district needs a Representative who is committed to standing up for democratic principles. Part of “Yes, We Can,” means we can provide 366,568 homes with renewable Electricity for one year. There are many, many things that should be done for this area. But we have a congressman who caters to big Corporations, the Insurance Industry and K Street lobbyists. He votes for them, not for the families in the 12th District.
See that video up top? This is the first in a series Blue America is rolling out. Regina hasn’t seen it yet and is seeing it for the first time today, just as everyone else is. Turning it into a TV spot will be our PAC’s first political independent expenditure of 2010. When you contribute to Regina on our ActBlue page, please also consider making an extra donation to the PAC so we can get the spot all over TV in Savannah, Augusta and all points in between.