Adam Schiff Did NOT Sign the Blue Dog Letter

Adam Schiff did not sign the Blue Dog letter and in fact supports a robust public option. That’s good new — but why did AP suggest otherwise?

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.]

Blue Dog Dems Rebel On Health Care Bill

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.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.