Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Matheson's Health Reform Choice: Corporate Donors or Constituents

Yes, I'm about to commit the ultimate taboo for Utah Democrats and criticize our single federal delegate with a "D." But in this case, the criticism is not just over ideology, but an issue of integrity.

And on health care, Matheson and the Blue Dogs lack it.

Quoted in the SL Trib:

"There is not one or two things we have to do in terms of addressing health care," Matheson said. "There is not one big grand slam home run to fix it all; you have to have a lot of singles."

But if the cost issue is not addressed in some fashion, Matheson said, it would be hard for him to support his party's attempt to reform health care for the first time in nearly half a century.

Matheson is employing what has become the solitary strategy (and only remaining purpose) of the "fiscally conservative" (but only when politically convenient) Blue Dog Caucus: feigned concern over cost for political cover and to protect their corporate interests. This is the same caucus that approved the Bush/Cheney Energy Plan. The same caucus that opposed tax reform. The same caucus that opposed a military exit strategy and date, which would have capped the price tag on the war in Iraq. The same caucus that voted for military supplementals again and again has been all about the cost-savings, except when they are not.

Matheson and the Blue Dogs hypocrisy can best be displayed by their simultaneous advocacy of voting against any plan that would increase the deficit, while pushing for inclusion of rural hospital payout changes that would greatly increase Medicare and Medicaid expenditures.

Yesterday, UDP's Todd Taylor (who let it be known is a personal hero of mine, despite the coming disagreement on this issue) penned a great article on the GOP's effots to kill reform, which ended with praise for Matheson and the Blue Dog caucus. And admittedly, not all of the Blue Dog suggestions have been bad (i.e. trimming the subsidies a bit), but I think we should hesitate before praising their motives behind all this once again realized fiscal concern.

I believe they are deserving of no such praise. In fact, in the very efforts of the GOP to kill the reform, Matheson and his caucus are doing the GOP's dirty work. Why?

Open Secrets offers one possibility. In the 2007-2008 cycle, Matheson's top two contributors were "Health Professionals" and "Pharmaceuticals" and that trend appears to be repeating for the 2010 cycle. One specific contributor stands out. Pfizer, Inc. was his second biggest campaign donor. Pfizer, Inc. is also the leading spender on lobbying efforts against the public option in Washington DC.

Matheson's district is an example of a region that would benefit most from health care reform with a public option. Matheson's corporate campaign donors may not. I believe that is his concern, as well as all but a few Blue Dogs (kudos to Loretta Sanchez, D-CA). They are protecting the CEO's instead of their constituents.

And it may cost us our health care.


  1. Is it not possible that his health care campaign contributors donate because they like his positions on health care and that bargains and votes based on his beliefs rather than simply to get cash? Is it possible that he honestly believes that health care reform shouldn't put the federal government another trillion dollars in debt? Why the cynicism?

  2. Matt, I have NO doubt that is why they donate. He's protecting their interests. Not ours. Their's. And it's possible he believes health care reform isn't important enough to add to the debt, but that then makes his votes on war supplementals and the Bush/Cheney tax cuts, and the Bush/Cheney Energy Plan a wee bit hypocritical, as they added to the debt considerably.

  3. Maybe not all of Matheson's constituents agree with you. In a heavily Republican state, I know that may come across as quite a shock.

  4. anon - maybe not all of his constituents disagree that if you're going to be fiscally conservative then be fiscally conservative. if you're just using it as political cover for your campaign donors, then you're not looking out for your constituents.

  5. I am a Democrat and have voted straight ticket the last 5 times...and I will NOT vote for Jim Matheson unless he has the guts to step away from the healthcare and insurance lobby that want to keep things status quo. How much is the status quo going to cost us...I'm 50 and I won't be eligible for Medicare until after it's bankrupt, my son has ZERO coverage. I have a bureaucrat between me and my doctor - it's called Blue Cross Blue Shield. I have no choice on my plan, there is no competition - I get what my employer picks and I have no say in how much I want to spend.

    I have two good examples of how much the current system "costs". I have a friend that needs a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, he can get one through IHC Home Care after insurance cost for just over $500...however, he can get one on the internet, exact same machine, for about $350. I have a calcium deposit in my shoulder that can be "blasted" for $400 in 3 visits, but my ins co doesn't pay for that...but they will pay for the $4000+ surgery - risk of infection and time off work not included.

    Who's getting rich with the healthcare system we currently have and who's getting screwed? If Matheson's prefers being rich to doing what he was elected to do, then I say - throw him out!!!!

    Mr Holland - take this down, I will NOT contribute another penny to this party until Jim decides to stand up for me, my kids, and my grandkids. Not one penny!!

  6. Huh ... I wonder how many Utahns are surprised by this? I wonder why Utah Democrats are bothering to feign surprise at all ... these are the people you chose, folks.

    You picked a DINO and support him blindly for years and then get all startled when he behaves as though he doesn't give a shit for you. He knows you'll cover his ass no matter what because you always have.

    Then you have his lapdog, Holland, who can't step quickly enough away from his previous statements of support for Health Care because Matheson told him to "shhhhhh."

    You've watched Matheson stab the Unions in the back over and over again - and you've watched Holland applaud from the silent sidelines.

    Knowing that you reap what you sew, the indignity and loud voices of the Utah Democrats is all the more silly and banal.