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I used to live in the MD-01 district.

While I lived there, I had a number of pretty respectable correspondences with Wayne Gilchrest.  And while I didn't always agree with him, Wayne took the time to explain his position, and it was usually based on a reasonable set of facts (that I just happened to think had a different solution).

So, when I saw that Gilchrest was primaried by a right-wing-nut-job thanks to the fringe of his own party, I was happy to see him endorse Kratovil.  It was a bold move, and reinforced my good opinion of Gilchrest.

And even though I'm no longer in that area, I even threw some money at Kratovil... and was thrilled to see him eek out a win.

I'm tempted to call and ask for my money back after his HCR vote.  

Since I am a campaign donor, I received an e-mail from him today, "explaining" his vote.  See the details below the fold.

Here is the text of the e-mail message.  I think he makes some valid and well-reasoned points.  However, there are also a number of apparent GOP talking points, which I find really disturbing.  

All emphases are mine.

November 9, 2009

Dear Friends,

This past weekend, the House of Representatives voted on comprehensive health care reform legislation. While I share the goals of expanding coverage to the uninsured, increasing access in rural areas, and reducing health care costs, I did not believe that H.R. 3962 offered a fiscally sustainable approach to reforming our ailing health care system. I wanted to share with you an op-ed I wrote that appeared in today's Easton Star-Democrat that discusses the health care reform vote in more depth.

I remain committed to passing effective, fair, and fiscally sustainable health care reform legislation. While I did not believe that the bill that passed the House on Saturday met this standard, I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress in hopes that a better bill can be developed as this process continues to move forward. As always, I am humbled to represent you and your families in Washington, and I value your feedback as the debate continues on this important issue.


Frank Kratovil

P.S. In addition to the op-ed below, I encourage you to take a look at these recent editorials from the Washington Post (from November 9, November 7, and October 30) that also capture a number of the concerns I've raised. While I don't agree with every point the Post makes -- for example, I remain opposed to taxing health care benefits -- it is important for us to remember that failing to pass a truly sustainable solution to our health care challenges will limit our ability to eventually reduce the deficit and make progress on many other important issues.

Policy over Politics
An Op-Ed by Rep. Frank  Kratovil

Published in the Easton Star-Democrat, November 9 2009

The discussion of health care reform has been one of the most partisan and heated public debates our country has seen in years. As a freshman lawmaker, it has certainly been an eye-opening experience. What has struck me the most, however, wasn't the anger and unruliness that grabbed so many headlines during August, but rather the number of people I would encounter who believed that I should commit to voting one way or the other before even knowing what would be included or excluded from the legislation. This was perhaps the only aspect of the health care debate that was truly bipartisan; I heard from many Republicans who demanded that I oppose any health care reform package, regardless of its contents, while some Democrats have told me I had a duty to unquestioningly support the bill simply because it was a priority for my party’s leadership.

It’s unfortunate that this debate – on one of the most important challenges facing our nation today – has been reduced to such a black-or-white oversimplification. The need for reform is clear: without reform, premiums and out-of-pocket expenses continue to rise rapidly for both middle class families and employers. But the pathway for achieving reform is far more complex. The goals of reform must be two-fold: expanding coverage and reducing long-term costs by significantly slowing the rate of health care inflation. This health care reform debate offers us a historic opportunity, but passing a bill that does not truly achieve these goals would waste this historic moment.

Since the introduction of H.R. 3200 in July, I have voiced a number of concerns about the legislation. Chief among these were the bill’s failure to curb long-term costs, it’s potential to increase the deficit, and its inadequate protections for small employers, which I fear may have an adverse impact on job creation. Following the August recess, I also led a group of my fellow freshman in sending a letter to House Leadership urging them to include additional reform proposals in this bill, such as allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines and promoting policies to reduce medical errors, lawsuits, and medical malpractice rates.

While the revised H.R. 3962 made progress toward these goals, I am not convinced that the final bill is a fiscally sustainable approach to reforming health care. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicates that the bill does not reduce long-term health care costs, and that it drastically increases federal health care spending in the near-term and long-term. Furthermore, while the bill is projected to decrease the deficit over the first 10 years, the CBO said this reduction is largely due to the removal of a $210 billion provision to correct the formula by which doctors are paid under Medicare. That "Doc Fix" language was moved into a companion bill, which Congress will consider later this month. Taken together, these bills will increase the deficit substantially in the years ahead.

To be successful, health care reform must both expand coverage and reduce long-term costs. Unfortunately, this health care reform legislation will significantly increase long-term spending, is unlikely to reduce the deficit, and even costs several hundred billion dollars more than the $900 billion target for which President Obama has advocated. As the debate moves to the Senate, both parties would be well advised to dial back the propaganda, put down the talking points, and focus instead on the substance of legislation before them. I’m hopeful that a better bill is still possible, one that more effectively bends the cost curve while going further to protect small businesses, increase competition, and decrease the deficit. If and when a bill does come back from the Senate, it will be policy, not politics, that will determine my support.

I am very disappointed that he can not see that the value in the bill he just voted against outweighs the fiscal issues he lists as his primary concern.  

However, based on his own words, he is pretty obviously considering a yes vote in the future.  So does that mean we need to lean on him harder, or can we figure that he will do the right thing in the end?

He certainly must be aware that without progressive donors like myself, he never would have squeaked out his narrow win last year.

So, I'm not sure if I should call and demand a refund, or call to encourage him to vote differently on the final bill, or should I just wait to see his final vote... and then demand a refund?

Originally posted to Hopefully Skeptical on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 11:39 PM PST.


What would you do in my shoes?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    "My greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it's possible that I'm a little too awesome." -Barack Obama 10/16/08

    by Hopeful Skeptic on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 11:39:43 PM PST

    •  Don't waste pefectly good pie on (3+ / 0-)

      this sniveling fool.

      We are wasting a ton of money on the dual wars right now- much more than what this will ultimately cost.

      He can go to blazes.

      Why yes, I am Catholic.

      by ems97007 on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 02:49:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd be inclined (4+ / 0-)

      ... to give him a break based on the local-political-reality-o-meter here.

      Andy Harris is a disaster with a strong wingnut base. His sum total platform is (1) tax cuts and (2) vote the publican party line.

      Frank's not a robot. He does care about his constituents. As was explained, he's in a gerrymandered district meant to shunt a conservative corridor along the western shore into the same bin with generally conservative Eastern Shore voters

      ... who are less "republican" than they are "against the Democratic machine in Balto and Annapolis" and therefore fall into the republican camp.

      It's a fact (I report it just about weekly) that state gov't is happy to screw the Eastern Shore counties wherever possible. People on the Eastern Shore react to that by supporting republicans, because it's the "other" choice in state and local politics.

  •  Give him a carrot. (8+ / 0-)

    He's in an extremely tough district and in a Democratic year (2008) barely eked out a win against a wing-nut. Other wing-nuts (aka his constituents) have been burning effigies of him since the summer and stalking his office. He's better than a Rethug in that district, just try to be understanding of the difficult situation he's in. I'm not excusing all 39 no votes (in fact most of them have no excuse and are just being pansies (most of the blue-dogs) or purists (Kucinich and a few others)), but I can understand this guy's fear. He had talk-radio calling for his blood this summer. I would be extremely surprised if he survived 2010.

    Joe Wilson is a racist. Censure his ass.

    by OReillysNightmare on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 11:54:24 PM PST

    •  He's not better than Gilchrest (9+ / 0-)

      who was the previous Republican rep from this district, and I would not have been surprised to see Gilchrest support the legislation.

      However, Kratovil is a damned sight better than the absolute lunatic Andy Harris who was his opponent and who will likely be his opponent again. We do.not.want Dr. Andrew Harris in that seat. Period.

      Your points about the district are very well taken. I live in MD-03 but have to spend a fair amount of time in Harford County. It is outrageously, frighteningly conservative.

      We as Dems do well to have Kratovil in that seat, even if he doesn't toe the party line (and what the hell is the party line, anyhow?) MD-01 was designed to be a Republican seat; that we won it at all speaks to the lunacy that is the current Republican party. But even with that our hold on that seat is very tenuous at best.

      All politics is local. This is a good example.

      Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

      by stitchmd on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 12:19:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not a question of weight (8+ / 0-)

    There are no fiscal issues, except in the Republican frame. The Public Option is all about saving 35% of currently wasted health care expense, and putting some of it into coverage for the currently uninsured.

    He doesn't need a stick, however. He needs the clown hammer, in public. Also known as the clue-by-four. You will be able to use the CBO scoring for that.

    I always made one prayer to God, a very short one. Here it is: "O Lord, make our enemies quite ridiculous!" God granted it.


    [Health Care is] a serious political threat to the Republican Party.
    Bill Kristol
    License: Creative Commons-Attribution-ShareAlike

    by Mokurai on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 12:01:54 AM PST

  •  Good lord. (8+ / 0-)

    Notice how unconcerned he is for the actual people.  What matters is money.  Fuck lives.  Fuck consumer protections.  It may increase the deficit!  It'll cost money!  Sheesh.  Love also the talking about about tort reform, because we all know how shielding incompetent doctors will lead to such improvement.

  •  His argument is 100% fiscal. (9+ / 0-)

    Not a word about people who die for lack of health care, with or without insurance. His argument is 100% fiscal: bending the cost curve, reducing the deficit, etc. Those are arguments that lead to minimizing access to health care because ... well ... it costs too much to treat sick people. Treating sick people is, it seems, a "talking point" for him.

    I'd ask for a refund.

  •  That there's not enough money for something (5+ / 0-)

    is a myth that should have been blown out of the water by the Wall Street bailout.  Money is a lubricant.  If the economic engine is to run smoothly, it needs money.  Fortunately, money is a figment of our imagination.  That is, we make it up as we need it.  It's not a limited resource like oil or, even more limited, time.  Indeed, money saves time and not only in the sense that spending money early to cure illness and disease enables people to live longer and more productive lives, instead of dying in their prime.

    That there's not enough money is a smoke screen behind which the ruling elite continue to deprive the majority of the people of their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Why do they do that?  Why do some people spread deprivation around the globe?  One suspects it's because they are basically insecure and seeing other people suffer makes them feel grand.

    Anyway, the deprivators need to be called on their agenda and reminded that they are not to promote misery, but to help end it.  What that requires of us is a focus on the agents of deprivation and misery, rather than the victims.  People who secretly delight in the misery of others are not going to be dissuaded by sympathy for their victims.  

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 02:07:47 AM PST

  •  He is gone in 2010 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie
  •  Reply with facts (5+ / 0-)

    Maybe write a rebuttal letter to that newspaper and point to it if published.

    •  What an outstanding, practical solution (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheUnknown285, Hopeful Skeptic

      A "private" conversation with him is easily ignored. A public dressing-down, reasonable and backed up by cold glaring facts (sure, keep them in a language he and most of his constituents think they speek, fiscal rectitude), is much harder to shrug off and starts to create actual discourse in the community. Folks (i.e. readers, i.e. voters) may start to wonder why he's voting against their interests and covering his own hindquarters.


      •  Kratovil off to a rocky start... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheUnknown285, Hopeful Skeptic

        As noted above, Kratovil is a brand-new Congressman and off to a rocky start indeed.

        First, he was quick to officially join the Blue Dog Caucus, as if to signal to voters in the district (and everyone else) that he wasn't really a Democrat after all.

        Then he hemmed and hawed over the cap-and-trade bill, voting for it only when he was reassured that the agricultural interests in his district would be protected.

        Now he walks away from the health care bill with a spurious fiscal argument.

        I, for one, hope that he might grow in office -- but these are not hopeful signs. He shows every indication of becoming the sort of DINO that is so despised in these pages every day.

        I live in the adjoining 3rd District of Maryland, and cheered from the sidelines when he won last year. There won't be any reason to cheer for him next year if he keeps up the current pace.


  •  Scott Murphy gave his explanation too. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheUnknown285, Hopeful Skeptic

    In general it was pretty much the same as you'd expect, burdens small businesses, costs too much, unsustainable, etc.  Right after that a man who apparently is his PR consultant, political consultant, said that his no vote more than likely only came after the leaders told him it was ok to vote no because they already had enough yes votes to pass the bill.  Scott got to have his cake and eat it too.  How nice.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 05:22:24 AM PST

  •  Oh, please (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Hopeful Skeptic

    Kratovil was elected in a fluke in a McCain 59% district. If he can get through one more election a safe seat can be created for him in 2012. Then, he'll be the kind of Congressman you and I want, but he can't now. Be patient.

  •  the only thing he heard from dems is it's good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheUnknown285, Hopeful Skeptic

    for the party?

    he obviously wasn't listening.

    Hell hath no fury like a woman disenfranchised.

    by jj24 on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 06:33:37 AM PST

  •  I was furious at him (3+ / 0-)

    What's more, from some of his constituents who called in to a show on the local NPR station, his Democratic constituents are also furious.  He declined to be on the show, but John Sarbanes and Elijah Cummings were both on the show, and defended him.  I got the impression from them, although they didn't say it in so many words, that if his vote is really needed after the conference committee (assuming that anything gets through the Senate), they expect to get it.

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