I keep being occasionally relieved as I read all the lists posted yon and wide, of Democratic members of Congress who are wavering on health care now that we are inches from the finish line, lists that have not included any Wisconsin reps who should know better. In fact, if last week you asked me to put money down on which Rep would muck up the works, I might have guessed Gwen Moore--I have been afraid she would be hesitant to vote for the Senate bill (a necessary step in the process) because it was not progressive enough.
Pretty much last on my list of possible Wisconsin defectors was Dr. Steve Kagen. Why? When the man courted my endorsement in 2006, he sat across a Starbucks table from me and asserted, flatly, that comprehensive health care reform was his top priority. It was his signature campaign issue. And he was an easy yes vote in the House last year.
So what do I find today? Ugh:
Rep. Steve Kagen (D) of Wisconsin voted for reform, and is now hedging. "I have made the case to the speaker and also to the White House that we should take small pieces, small bites," Kagen said. "In the practice of medicine, I can't give a child a big pill. What do we do? We cut it up into pieces. Let's find things we can agree on."WTF? Seriously? What is this about? His platform in 2006 was not "small bites," and it was a sight more progressive than the current versions of the reform package.
I will be calling Kagen's office tomorrow--hey, we all should: (920) 380-0061--to try to figure out what's going on. I mean, it can't be because Kagen thinks this will save his seat this fall. People who are planning to vote Republican or Tea Party or Martian or whatever aren't gonna suddenly turn around and go, Oh, yeah, Kagen's a swell guy! He lost those votes a long time ago, when he voted Yea the first time, if not long before that.
And anyway, I have yet to see a poll suggesting that any of the rogues gallery up nort' right now poses a risk.
And if Kagen really thinks this vote is the pivotal moment of this election, well, he's got two choices. He can enjoy the full support of state grass-roots Dems and stand on the right side of history, or he can vote no and wonder where his backers are come November.
(Greg Sargent compiles the list of others like Kagen who risk making a dumb mistake in the next couple of weeks.)