UPDATE: Hamsher reports, based on feedback from Paul Martin of Peace Action who is lobbying on this, that Welch is leaning in the direction of abandoning his position and supporting the war funding supplemental without a timetable for withdrawal. A lot of us stuck up for him when he was getting beat up on his handling of this stuff, so I can say with certainty that he’s gonna catch hell if he does flip. I haven’t been able to get anything definitive from his office myself, so I’ll keep trying. Folks should definitely be calling (numbers below). Don’t let us down, Peter.
Peter Welch is getting a lot of positive attention on health care reform, but an all-too familiar issue may be on the horizon for the coming week
On health care, while battle lines are being drawn over the so-called “public option” in any reform legislation, Welch is already aggressively moving to introduce legislation to guarantee its inclusion. In a nutshell, reform legislation will present taxpayers with a menu of mostly commercial insurer options to buy into, which will be subsidized for low income earners. A “public option” would be a government payer (a la medicare or medicaid) as one of the menu choices. Obviously this makes subsidizing easier on the one hand, but also allows the feds more control over the types of coverage. Private insurers are afraid any public option would be too appealing and affordable and draw away business – and both opponents and proponents of a single payer system see this as a way to potentially facilitate a transition to such a model. Welch put himself in front of the argument two days ago (along with Reps. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bruce Braley (D-Iowa)) by introducing H.R. 2668, the Choice in Health Options Insures Care for Everyone (CHOICE) Act, which doesn’t wait for a megabill and would mandate a public option be included and paid for by premiums.
So big good on Peter on the one hand, yes?
…but behind door two…
Fast approaching (next Thursday, probably) is a vote on yet another supplemental to Iraq War funding. Welch is among those who vowed not to approve any more such funds unless they included a timetable for withdrawal – and he has held to that vow in the past. But there’s a new Sheriff in town in the form of a Democratic President, and some Representatives who made such vows are showing signs of wavering – and, according to Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake, one of them is Mr. Welch:
I get emails:
Some folks in a position to have an informed opinion think that Peter Welch is going to go with Barney Frank and vote in favor of the war supplemental.
I thought Vermont had a peace movement.
Comes from a friend who’s been up on the Hill lobbying.
I guess some people think this one is going to fall down the memory hole. Don’t think so.
While Representatives such as Frank and Jackson-Lee have indicated they will weenie out on this, we trust that Rep. Welch will join fellow progressives like Baldwin, Conyers and Woolsey and stick to his guns (so to speak). You can encourage him with a phone call at (202) 225-4115 or (202) 225-4115, or use the Whip tool at fdl here. Word is that the pressure is turned up to 11 on this bill (which includes the controversial IMF bailout language), with Rahm Emanuel working legislators relentlessly and Nancy Pelosi herself playing whip, so counter pressure is definitely called for. According to Hamsher, “Members are being bribed, bullied and cajoled into abandoning their commitment to vote against any war funding that doesn’t include a time table to bring the troops home.”
We’ll keep you informed on both these issues as things develop.