Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Democrat With Courage

Honor students at Albion College were studying health care reform late last fall, and had the opportunity to question Rep. Mark Schauer on his thoughts about the bill before Congress.

His answer should be standard for Democrats everywhere.

Schauer said the health-care bill is a fantastic case study in policymaking and civil discourse.

"Health care is to me ... a moral issue and also an economic issue," he said.

Sophomore Casey Hoffman said while he disagrees with Schauer in terms of policy, he enjoyed the visit.

During the class, Hoffman asked Schauer if he thought supporting the bill could hurt him in the next election. Schauer told the class that voting against it could have been considered the "easy vote," but he thinks this is the right thing to do.

Schauer said he was taught that members of Congress should find an issue they are willing to lose their job over, and health care is an issue that is that important to him.

The "right thing to do" takes precedence over the job. And now, faced with voting for the Senate version of the bill, the teabaggers are already running TV ads in Schauer's district, attacking him for his vote for the "Obama Healthcare Takeover", using the scare tactic talking points about higher taxes, cuts to Medicare, and a not-so thinly veiled new version of the "death panels" lie in the word "rationing". Looks like this a buy in the Lansing market only, purchased by a front group called the League of American Voters - ad copy by Dick Morris, shares an address with the Americans for Tax Reform, which is run by Grover Norquist. Follow the links to see all the fun these folks bring to the table.

With that wingnut target on his back, Rep. Schauer adds a small caveat, but is still willing to do the right thing and vote for the bill. Stupak won't, Peters at this point is uncommitted (but chances are he will too), the rest couldn't be reached as of yesterday.

Democratic House leaders have a balancing act to perform then in getting health care legislation passed: They must attract some members who voted against it in November, while not losing too many of those who voted for the first version. And they have to consider the election ramifications if Democrats in toss-up districts vote for it.

U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, is in such a district, but he said he’s not worried voters will toss him out and plans to vote for the bill as long the final version contains the Medicare drug program protections he wants.

A lot of House Democrats are probably hedging their bets like that, with good reason. If the Senate changes things too much, they might back out, and that's OK. But, even though Schauer has a moderate voting record, the extreme right is trying to paint him as some wild liberal, and is already attacking him for doing the right thing for his constituents. In a district like the 7th, it would be the "easy vote" to turn down health care reform - but as it stands, he will not. Even if it costs him his job.

That is courage. Give us more Democrats like that, please.

The rest of you cowards need not apply.