This is a guest column by Marc Stier who headed efforts here in Pennsylvania to get the Affordable Care Act passed.
by Marc Stier
Voters in the 17th Congressional District in Pennsylvania have an opportunity to do something really important, not just for themselves, but for the entire country: defeat Congressman Tim Holden. who represents the Republican wing of the Democratic party.
It is obviously important to the 17th District to have a member of Congress who actually support their interests, not those of the corporate rich. And it’s important to the Democratic Party and the country as a whole to rid ourselves of members of Congress who fail to do the minimal in standing up for the ideals of our party. Defeating such members will send a critical message throughout the Democratic Caucus: Democratic members of Congress are accountable to us.
And, as I explain below, defeating Tim Holden will remove from office a whining, gutless, dishonest example of the American politician at his worst.
Let me be clear: I’m not a wild eyed leftist. I’m a slightly left of center Democrat. I’m not naïve about political strategy either. In endorsing Allyson Schwartz, I pointed out that members of Congress sometimes have to stand apart from progressive ideals in order to be reelected. And I said that they have a “moral responsibility” to do that because control of the House is important for the party and the country-so long as they don’t vote the wrong way when progressive legislation is at stake and their vote is absolutely necessary.
But Tim Holden’s opponent, Matt Cartwright, is not only a much more progressive Democrat than Holden, he is someone who can definitely win and hold the 17th Congressional District this year and in years to come.
Moreover, Tim Holden is not just a member of Congress who votes with Republicans now and then in order to preserve his seat. He votes with Republicans much of the time, and what’s worse, and on the issues that are most important to us, without making any attempt to persuade his district, and when his voted is definitely needed. And, on top of that he repeats Republican lies to justify his vote.
I’m talking, of course, about the Affordable Care Act. I met with Congressman Holden a few times, and until they cut us off, talked to his staff many times when I ran Health Care for America Now in our state. In all those conversations, I never once heard Congressman Holden show any serious concern about the tens of thousands of uninsured and underinsured in his district or the even larger group of people whose health insurance were going up far faster than their wages. Instead he whined about how health care reform (and cap and trade) were creating political problems for him.
Even his chief health care staff person was disappointing. She repeated blue dog talking points to me whenever I met with her.
And let me point out that even the old 17th district had a Democratic majority and supported Obama, unlike a lot of other districts held by Democratic members of Congress who voted for the ACA.
When members of Congress like Kathy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney were out in their districts, facing the tea party, and working with citizen and labor activists to defend what became the ACA, Tim Holden was hiding under his desk. He only came out to attend a private event hosted by an insurance company.
And, after the vote and since, Holden defended his stance by repeating the totally false Republican claim that the ACA cuts Medicare and Medicaid benefits. I called him on that two years ago in the Patriot-News. His constituents need to call him on it now.
What kind of Democratic member of Congress not only votes against his party on the most important legislation in his career but undermines the other members of Congress from his own party as well as a Democratic President by repeating Republican lies?
I hope that on Tuesday the answer will be Democratic Congressman who goes down to a well-deserved defeat in a Democratic primary.