My outrage yesterday at Congressmember Schiff derived from some sloppy writing in the AP story about the Blue Dog “revolt” on health care reform. Schiff did NOT sign the Blue Dog letter and in fact strongly supports a robust public option. Good for him. Schiff’s communications director wanted a retraction, and I am glad to provide it.
The AP story:
1) reported that the Blue Dogs wrote a letter saying that they could not support the current plans for health care reform;
2) Schiff is a member of the Blue Dogs; and
3) the story quoted Schiff along with the unfortunately-named Blue Dog Marion Berry, who DID sign the letter.
I inferred from this that Schiff signed the letter, which I think was reasonable. Was Schiff set up by his ostensible Blue Dog friends, or the AP reporters? I don’t know, but it’s good to set the record straight — especially when it is good news.
[Full text of the AP story at the jump.]
WASHINGTON — The drive to remake the nation’s health care system suffered yet another setback in Congress on Thursday when a pivotal group of House Democrats demanded changes in legislation the leadership was drafting on a fast track.
The emerging bill “lacks a number of elements essential to preserving what works and fixing what is broken,” 40 members of the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate to conservative Democrats wrote party leaders. To win their support, they said, any legislation would need to be much more aggressive in reining in health care costs as well as in addressing a disparity in Medicare payments they said adversely affects rural providers.
A group of the moderates met into early evening with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and arranged to sit down with committee chairmen on Friday to go over proposed changes. Officials said the public release of the bill, originally set for Friday, would occur no earlier than Monday.
It was the second setback in three days for President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority, although it was unclear whether it would amount to anything more than a brief delay for a bill of enormous complexity and controversy.
There was upheaval earlier in the week in the Senate, where the Democratic leadership is intent on scuttling a proposed tax on health care benefits that has long been key to attempts at a bipartisan compromise. At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and others went out of their way during the day to emphasize eagerness for Republican support.
As an alternative to the benefits tax, Democrats are considering raising taxes on wealthy investors to help pay for health care legislation, along with numerous other options, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. The proposal to extend the current 1.45 percent Medicare payroll tax to capital gains earned by high-income taxpayers would bring in an estimated $100 billion over 10 years.
In the House, Hoyer sought to minimize the day’s developments, which occurred as Democrats on one committee were making final decisions on provisions to pay for the legislation.
“Let me make it very clear that everybody in that room thinks we ought to pass health care reform,” the Maryland Democrat said.