A test of Mike Ross’ commitment

A TEST OF MIKE ROSS’ COMMITMENT…. Over the last several days, Rep. Mike Ross’ (D-Ark.) opinions on health care reform have become pretty important. Ross is, of course, a leading conservative Democrat, the chairman of the Blue Dog Health Care Task Force, and the man well positioned to help kill reform in the House, if he so chooses.

It’s worth noting, then, that Ross said over the weekend that conservatives will be “sorely disappointed” if they’re counting on Ross and his Blue Dog colleagues to kill health care reform.

[Ross] said that that the coalition would seek to “resuscitate” the House healthcare reform through amendments in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s markup of the bill this week.

“There’s some folks from the right that have been calling my office very pleased that they perceive I’m trying to kill healthcare,” Ross said during an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) on Saturday. “At the end of the day, I suspect they’re going to be sorely disappointed, because none of us within the Blue Dog Coalition are trying to kill healthcare reform.”

He added that he and other conservative Dems are “in no way … watering down the bill.”

Ross told Roll Call over the weekend, “One of the biggest reasons I ran for Congress was because I wanted to reform health care.” He talked about “owning a family pharmacy” before entering politics, and seeing low-income Arkansans struggle with health care costs.

I’m not going to question Ross’ sincerity. I do think his concerns about reform are contradictory and hard to decipher. I also think the congressman might question why it is, exactly, that folks on the right keep calling his office to thank him for trying to kill health care reform.

But in the end, either Ross and his Blue Dog colleagues will help make reform a reality or they won’t. Either they’ll play a constructive role or they won’t. Either Ross will help carry the bill across the finish line or he’ll help kill the best chance for reform in generations.

Ross says he’s committed to reform and making this happen. Here’s his chance to prove it.