Matt Cartwright: “I’m From the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party”

Matt Cartwright borrowed that famous phrase from Paul Wellstone and Howard Dean to differentiate himself from incumbent Blue Dog Dem Tim Holden.  Indeed, the PA-17 Congressman’s voting record has been anything but Democratic over the years and he faces a tough challenge from the Scranton, Wilkes-Barre attorney.  The newly drawn 17th Congressional District, which Tim Holden like enough to pressure Democratic State House members to cross the aisle to support, may now be his nightmare.  Encompassing heavily Democratic areas like Luzerne, Lackawanna and Northhampton Counties he figured this was his ticket to several more (he’s had 19 so far) years in Washington.

Unfortunately for Holden Matt Cartwright is the hometown guy there and he’s very well known, very well supported and has 60% of the Democratic vote in the new PA-17 in his backyard.  PoliticsPA says he’s raised $600,000 in his brief campaign and he told me he’ll have enough money to get his message to the voters.  One of Holden’s weaknesses has been his inability to raise large amounts of campaign cash and that tends to draw challengers.  The fact his voting record is so bad I understand why many traditional Democratic organizations shy away from supporting him.  The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO said they’d never endorse him again after he voted against the Affordable care Act.

He has also voted anti-choice by supporting bans on abortions, family planning, gay adoption and for constitutional amendments against marriage equality.  He voted for the AUMF and funding for the wars while also voting for the USA PATRIOT Act, FISA surveillance, immunity for telecoms conducting warrantless wiretaps,and intelligence gathering without civil oversight.  A few more of his horrendous votes:

Bush/Cheney Energy Task Force

Star Wars

School prayer

Against funding for embryonic stem cell research

Against modifying bankruptcy laws protecting homeowners from mortgage foreclosures

For drilling on the continental shelf

Against regulating greenhouse gases

Against increased CAFE standards for vehicles (fuel economy)

Against endangered species

Against third world debt reduction

Supports the WTO

Against representation for DC

For tort reform

Supports restrictions on class action lawsuits

Supports limiting lawsuits against health plans and insurers

Against Medicare Part D (prescription plan)

Against section 8 housing

Supports the border fence

Against withdrawal from both Iraq and Afghanistan

It’s a sorry record and not one which will stand up to a serious challenge.  Cartwright intends to make that challenge.  We sat down this morning for a conversation:

How Blue Dogs Killed Health Care Reform

The death of Ted Kennedy was also the death knell for real, significant health care reform.  Talking points now use the term “health insurance reform” instead of “health care reform.”  Real reform died when Sen. Baucus disallowed any consideration of single payer.  Regardless of the fact most Americans support single payer the Administration and Congress began in a weak position from which they’ve been forced to retreat by corporate funded interest groups.

This is nothing new.  The same fear mongering tactics were used against Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and every other significant progressive legislation of the last sixty years.  The insurance industry fought health care reform this way back in 1993.  Why weren’t we better prepared?  The tea baggers took the initiative as soon as Blue Dog Democrats killed a vote in July and forced the issue in the fall.  Blue Dogs killed health care reform with their obstinence.  They are solely responsible, not Republicans, for the death of this movement.

The Blue Dog Democrats are completely owned and operated by Big Pharma and the insurance industry.  They are corporate Dems who represent the interests of their corporate clients rather than their constituents.  Because they opposed a vote in July the bills got deferred until fall and now the crucial 60th Senate vote is gone.  Idiots like Max Baucus wasted valuable time and resources attempting to negotiate with Republicans who had publicly stated their mission was to make this fail to destroy the Obama Presidency.  How stupid can some Democrats be?  Sen. Grassley was being courted just before he went home and demonized the bills as being death panels determining whether Grandma would be euthanized.  You don’t negotiate with extremists like these you ignore them and do what’s best for the country.

That wasn’t accomplished because of the Blue Dogs.  If you live in a Blue Dog District as I do (Tim Holden) do NOT vote for your Member of Congress again.  I can say I have never for voted for mine and I never will.  We need to recruit candidates to run against them in Democratic primaries and force them towards the center or defeat them altogether.  These are many of the traitors who also voted for torture, warrantless wiretapping, to allow the government to look into all your financial records without warrants, the ability for authorities to enter and search your home without warrants and for secret overseas prisons.  They are Unamerican.  Now they’ve killed health care.  As your insurance premiums continue rising at 20% per year and you go bankrupt when you finally can no longer afford the coverage and become ill remember who was primarily responsible for the death of this legislation:  Blue Dog Democrats.

Accountability Now

I have been contacted by Accountability Now, a new PAC formed by progressive bloggers, to search for suitable candidates in Pennsylvania.  The purpose of Accountability Now is to recruit and fund progressive, liberal Democrats in Congressional Districts currently held by conservative Blue Dog Democrats.  Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of DailyKos are spearheading the effort.

The election of Bob Casey in 2006 has led, especially here, to a flood of conservative Democrats running for office.  This was a fear back then that his victory over Rick Santorum would lead to a perception that only conservative Democrats could win statewide in Pennsylvania.  As it was Sen. Santorum never got above 41% in polls or votes and any credible, viable candidate would have beaten him.

As Democrats have gained Congressional seats in Pennsylvania all have been conservative Democrats.  Patrick Murphy, Joe Sestak, Chris Carney, Jason Altmire and Kathy Dahlkemper represent this trend.  Accountability Now is searching for liberal, progressive Democrats to run in primaries against Blue Dog Democrats or against Republicans.  (My opinions, not those of Accountability Now)

If you fit this description and are contemplating running please contact me so I can forward your information to Ms. Hamsher.  Rest assured I will not blog about your potential candidacy, as always, until you want to me to do so (I’m frequently asked to keep candidacies confidential until campaigns are prepared for public announcements).