Divisions among Blue Dogs

DIVISIONS AMONG BLUE DOGS…. There are probably enough “centrist” Democrats in the House to derail health care reform, but that’s presupposing that the Blue Dogs stick together. There’s some evidence to suggest they’re not all barking the same tune.

A band of 22 New Democrat and Blue Dog lawmakers say they support a “robust” government-run health plan, boosting chances of moving healthcare reform with a public insurance plan through the House.

Democratic centrists remain the biggest obstacle to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) ability to pass a healthcare bill with a public plan, and many conservative Democrats oppose a public option as unfair to private insurers.

But the letter from the 22 New Dems and Blue Dogs indicates opposition from this group is far from universal.

“We have a broader coalition to pass this than what was assumed before,” said Rep. Lois Capps (Calif.), a New Democrat who circulated the letter supporting a public option with Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “While we may belong to a more moderate branch, we want it known that we support the public option.”

The 20 New Democrats on the letter represent nearly one-third of the 68-member caucus. It is signed by two Blue Dogs and three members who are both New Dems and Blue Dogs.

It’s frustrating, to a certain extent, to think those in the “center” would be reluctant to support a public option. It’s hard to imagine a more mainstream policy idea than one embraced by three out of four Americans — including half of self-identified Republicans.

For that matter, a public option would be part of a policy premised on choice and competition in the marketplace, which in turn cuts costs. These are, the last time I looked, the kind of tenets “centrists” are supposed to drool over.