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Needed: A Blue Dog whisperer

[1]It’s unclear how far the so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats like Heath Shuler who’ve been screwing up the President’s health care reform initiative are willing to go with their incoherent arguments about cost and/or their shameless shilling for corporate interests, but if they have any interest at all in understanding the reality of health reform and what’s really at stake, they should read yesterday’s NYT column [2] by Paul Krugman.

In it, Krugman speaks the truth, plain and simple, by making clear that reform is dependent upon four key “pillars”: “regulation, mandates, subsidies and competition.”

He then goes on to explain how the supposedly “conservative” Dems are barking out of both sides of their mouths:

Well, they talk a lot about fiscal responsibility, which basically boils down to worrying about the cost of those subsidies. And it’s tempting to stop right there, and cry foul. After all, where were those concerns about fiscal responsibility back in 2001, when most conservative Democrats voted enthusiastically for that year’s big Bush tax cut — a tax cut that added $1.35 trillion to the deficit?

But it’s actually much worse than that — because even as they complain about the plan’s cost, the Blue Dogs are making demands that would greatly increase that cost.

There has been a lot of publicity about Blue Dog opposition to the public option, and rightly so: a plan without a public option to hold down insurance premiums would cost taxpayers more than a plan with such an option.

But Blue Dogs have also been complaining about the employer mandate, which is even more at odds with their supposed concern about spending. The Congressional Budget Office has already weighed in on this issue: without an employer mandate, health care reform would be undermined as many companies dropped their existing insurance plans, forcing workers to seek federal aid — and causing the cost of subsidies to balloon. It makes no sense at all to complain about the cost of subsidies and at the same time oppose an employer mandate.”

Let’s hope more people continue to speak the truth like Krugman. It may be the only hope for getting these troublesome dogs in check before they ruin the whole neighborhood.