In a stunning display of honesty, so-called "centrist" Democrats whined to the press that House majority leader Nancy Pelosi had the temerity to actually use her majority to pass the kind of legislation voters elected Democrats to champion.
Between a tough vote on a climate change bill that many don’t expect to become law and a leftward push on healthcare legislation, Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) critics within her caucus say she’s left the so-called “majority makers” exposed.“She keeps trying to push an unpopular package,” said Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), a centrist Blue Dog Democrat, referring to healthcare. “I think it’s fair to say they were better at it before.”Another Blue Dog lawmaker put it more bluntly.“They’re seriously endangering their majority,” said the Blue Dog, who requested anonymity. “With the increased margin and a [Democratic] president, there seems to be a different feeling.”
The concern, of course is the 2010 elections. The caucus includes 84 Democrats who represent districts won by either President George W. Bush in 2004 or Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008. The fear for these lawmakers is that voting for progressive legislation will leave them vulnerable to election challenges next year.
Again, from the Hill:
Many centrists credit Rahm Emanuel, now White House chief of staff, then a congressman from Illinois and a member of leadership, for pushing Pelosi to protect vulnerable members. As the former head of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, Emanuel had recruited many of them to run in the 2006 election that gave Democrats the majority.“Rahm could say, ‘Nance, I’m the guy who delivered the House.’ He had a special ability to talk to her,” said a senior Democratic aide.This year, members have been asked to spend $787 billion to stimulate the economy and vote on a budget with many liberal agenda items.Democratic members point most to Pelosi’s handling of the climate change measure. Pelosi worked the floor relentlessly to pass the fast- tracked bill, persuading a number of worried centrists to vote for it just before the Independence Day holiday. Some Democratic centrists have regretted backing that bill.What irks them most is the sense that the Senate won’t pass anything so strong, if it passes anything at all. So they expect to get beaten up for voting on a bill that will never become law.“What bothers me is I was put in that position unnecessarily,” said one vulnerable lawmaker.That has made vulnerable and centrist lawmakers wary now that lawmakers are working on the president’s top priority: healthcare. Centrist Blue Dogs threatened to stop the bill in committee, saying their priorities had been ignored, particularly on the contentious issue of a “public option.”That group negotiated a compromise, but Blue Dogs were enraged this week to find out that Pelosi has told fellow leaders she was backing a public option and a surtax that ignored that deal. Pelosi has since backed off, saying she will leave the decision to the caucus.Still, vulnerable Democrats are worried that they will be pressured into supporting a public option that many of their constituents consider a “government takeover.”Aides say centrist lawmakers have complained loudly to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) when they feel like Pelosi isn’t listening.Hoyer has been more open to a bill without a public option than Pelosi, who has said a measure without one can’t pass the House.
Perhaps they should they think of it this way - if healthcare and climate change aren't passed - you know the stuff we elected them to do - they should start worrying more about being challenged from the left - in bitterly contested primary fights.
It seems to be working wonders for Jane Harman, a Blue Dog Democrat who's come out unequivocally in favor of the public option.
She's being challenged by single-payer advocate Marcy Winograd