by Max Brantley
However U.S. Rep. Mike Ross slices it -- for or against health reform legislation -- the Republican Party of Arkansas is sure of one doggone thing. He's wrong. When you don't have a plan of your own to defend, this sort of criticism is cheap and easy.
If Ross had any threat of meaningful opposition, his legislative trickery (helping the bill out of committee but refusing to commit to vote for it) might cause him a political headache or two.
(Fans of "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" will get the headline, I think.)
REPUBLICAN PARTY NEWS RELEASE
Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Webb to Congressman Ross:
“Stop Playing Politics, Stop Healthcare Bill Now”
Little Rock, AR – After months of pretending to serve the best interests of Arkansans, Congressman Mike Ross has decided to join President Obama and Speaker Pelosi in their game of partisan politics on the healthcare reform issue.
Ross recently criticized the Democratic healthcare proposal saying “No one knows what the public option will or will not be able to achieve. Frankly, it’s an experiment. We cannot create a public option that stacks the deck against a system that currently provides coverage to more than 160 million Americans.” (Robert Pear, “Obama Open To A Mandate On Health Insurance,” The New York Times, 6/3/09)
Now Ross, along with 3 other Blue Dog Democrats, has decided to go along with this “experiment” even though 74% of Arkansans do not want Americans to receive their healthcare from the federal government. (Roby Brock, “TBQ Poll: Health Care Attitudes in Arkansas,” Talk Business Net, 7/23/09)
Ross plans to vote the healthcare bill out of the Health and Commerce Committee, but claims he isn’t sure he will vote for it when it goes before the full House. "The Blue Dogs still might oppose the bill on the House floor if it isn't further changed. Ross said he does not support a surtax on the wealthy that Democratic leaders plan to use to offset much of the cost of the measure. ‘I can't support the current revenue source, but that's not in my committee of jurisdiction,’ Ross said, explaining how he could support potentially voting for the bill in committee but not on the floor.” (Alex Wayne and Drew Armstrong, "Deal With Blue Dogs Revives House Health Bill Markup," CQ Today, 7/29/09)
Republican Party of Arkansas (RPA) Chairman Doyle Webb released the following statement today:
“This deal Mike Ross has cut will still increase the cost of healthcare, still raise taxes, and still take healthcare decisions away from families and doctors and put them in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats. Sadly, he knows this is still a bad plan but he is willing to let it out of his committee so it can pass the full house. Mike Ross should kill this proposal while he has a chance and then start working with all Democrats and Republicans on a solution that answers the healthcare concerns of all Americans. It looks like our Arkansas Blue Dog has turned into an Obama-Pelosi lap dog.”