After I heard two national, supposedly progressive, media shows try to take Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO-02) to task over his vote and press releases about H.R. 3200 in committee; after receiving e-mails from various groups encouraging me to tell Rep. Polis to stand up for “true” health care reform (what the heck is that, exactly?!), after I’ve seen cheap shot after cheap shot from national bloggers, I decided to push back in my very small way. While the vote may not be the most defendable from a progressive standpoint (I’m actually having some difficulty fully understanding what the issue really is), I think the situation has gotten completely blown out of proportion. I think there are plenty of other folks who say they’re Democrats but who have a much longer and much less impressive voting record on final bills. So I’m writing this to try to put things into better perspective.
Polis voted against the bill in the Education and Labor Committee. Okay, I get that. He wrote a letter to Speaker Pelosi and included it on his website. So at least he’s being up front and honest about his reasoning and is trying to engage the rest of us. That reason may chafe at some folks, but there’s something positive to be said for his actions.
In contrast, Rep. John Salazar (D-CO-03) voted against the climate bill (which I’ve argued is a much more critical issue than health care) on the House floor, the final vote until a House/Senate compromise bill is put back before everybody. Not only did Rep. Salazar vote to condemn Americans (actually the entire world) to multiple feet of sea level raise, Dust Bowl-drought conditions from Kansas to California and more extreme weather events, not only all of that, but after his vote, he snuck out of the House chamber so he wouldn’t be confronted by his leadership to change his vote before the time to do so closed. He voted against his Party’s bill and was too cowardly to face them afterward. Billions of people will be negatively affected if people like Rep. Salazar has his way. Now I ask you: which case is worse?
Gov. Ritter ran on a platform that included health care reform at the state level. After a year’s worth of state-wide hearings, he kicked the can up to Congress, saying it was too big a problem for Colorado to address alone. How many Colorado-centric or nationwide blogs took Ritter to task for going back on his promise? How many progressive national media shows even mentioned this travesty? Let’s look at it a little differently: How many Coloradans have lost health insurance or died due to lack of care because the issue got kicked to the curb by Ritter? Crickets from the national progressive media.
As I’ve said before, Rep. Polis has engaged the netroots and greater progressive infrastructure to a far larger degree than Rep. Salazar or Gov. Ritter (who is constantly on right-wing extremist talk-shows and not progressive talk-shows, by the way). How many solidly progressive pieces of legislation has Rep. Polis not only voted for in his short time in the House, but co-sponsored, including H.R. 676 (single-payer, not just a public option) and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to name just two?
A lot of unfounded condemnation has centered around Rep. Polis “voting for the rich, people just like himself”. Well, let’s examine another voting record from that standpoint, shall we? Rep. Salazar: voted to extend the Bush tax cuts (in 2006), an awfully fiscally responsible vote, since the Bush tax cuts didn’t pay for themselves – talk about voting for the rich! and voted for tax breaks and incentives to oil and gas corporations (another fiscally responsible and pro-rich vote – look at Salazar rack them up!). Where were the leading progressive blogs on those votes? When did the progressive media shows call Rep. Salazar out? Where were the issue groups’ condemnation of Rep. Salazar’s votes of bills that actually became law, which the health care bill hasn’t? Oh – both those bills were the final House bills, not a committee bill that will soon be changed anyway.
On top of those two, Rep. Salazar voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act (2009) (Polis voted for it, by the way – no kudos were issued by the hateful mobs); voted for the FISA amendment which gave retroactive immunity to telecoms’ illegal wiretapping of Americans without warrants (2007); voted to continue funding the Iraq occupation with no withdrawal date (2007), (that’s awfully fiscally responsible too, isn’t it?!); voted for the Military Commissions Act (2006); voted against a withdrawal timetable from the Iraq occupation (2006); ; voted for the undocumented worker clampdown bill with no path toward attaining legal status (2005); voted against the endangered species protection bill (2005); ; and voted for a Constitutional amendment making flag burning illegal (2005).
Get a freaking grip on reality, folks. At this point, it’s obvious that Polis’ critics have some mysterious bone to pick with him. This kind of day-after-day-after-day attack style is indicative of an obsession with the subject. Rep. Salazar is by no means hurting for money. He may not be as rich as Polis happens to be, but Polis has demonstrated stronger progressive values to this point than Salazar has. This is all pretty revolting.