Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Interpreting McMahon

We can all feel very much gratified, for a number of reasons, when considering the vote of Congressman McMahon on HR3962 this past Saturday evening.

First and foremost, from my perspective, is the apparent affect your tireless work had on the outcome, forcing him to examine the roots of our opposition to the bill, and helping him to understand the reasonableness of our objections.

For his part, he listened, and that is big, and ultimately he voted against his party’s leadership. We’ll take as an act of faith that he voted his conscience.

But what if he didn’t? Should the Congressman be condemned if his vote was merely an act of political expediency? The more cynical among us will point out that Ms. Pelosi had 40 votes to play with – to pass, the bill needed a majority of 218 votes, and there are 258 Democrats in the House. This gave her, ostensibly, a pocketful of dispensations which could be doled out to nervous Blue Dogs - or other vulnerable Democrats. Michael McMahon is one of these, since he is a freshman D in a district that is reliably Republican - 28 years worth - in a district that voted comfortably for John McCain in the last Presidential election.

To be sure, Congressman McMahon listed a goodly number of appropriate reasons for voting against the bill – indeed, had he gone a little further, he might have been able to justify supporting the Republican version of healthcare reform, which came to be known as the Boehner Amendment.

In a statement, the Congressman said:
"I believe that we need to reform the healthcare system, reduce spending, cut waste, fraud and abuse and expand coverage for more Americans. Unfortunately the bill that passed the United States House tonight does not do that.

The cuts to Medicare will affect seniors in my district, the cuts to the Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) will make it harder for hospitals to service Staten Island and Brooklyn and the cost containment doesn't go far enough. There is no guarantee that this bill will reduce the cost of healthcare premiums for Staten Island and Brooklyn families."

To summarize, Congressman McMahon’s objections to HR3962 are as follows:
1. The bill does not reduce spending.
2. The bill does not cut waste, fraud and abuse.
3. The bill does not expand coverage for more Americans.
4. Medicare cuts will affect seniors in the district.
5. Cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospitals will affect service to Staten Islanders.
6. Cost containment does not go far enough.
7. There will be no guaranteed reduction in the cost of healthcare premiums.

A quick look at the Boehner amendment reveals that it would address many of these concerns; certainly the fiscal ones, according to the scoring by the Congressional Budget Office.

However, Congressman McMahon dutifully, and to no one’s surprise, voted against this Republican amendment, even though it would have overcome nearly all the hurdles that caused him to vote NO on the version that came to the floor. That may cause one to wonder if the stated reasons for voting against the bill were the real reasons he voted against the bill – or might he have voted NO to take political cover in his Republican district.

That would be known as having your cake and eating it, too.

(We should note that there is a distinct possibility that the bill will be back again for another vote, if and when the Senate passes its version. Having set a high bar, a bar any reconciled bill may not be able to hurdle, Congressman McMahon will be forced to vote NO once again. We certainly live in interesting times.)

Despite all of this, Congressman McMahon has voted the right way on HR3962, and in the end that’s all that we asked for. So kudos to the Congressman, and great big kudos to the tireless work of the hard-working, ordinary citizen-members of the Staten Island Tea Party.

We never stopped letter-writing, phone-calling, e-mailing, sign-making, trip-taking and generally being a tenacious bunch of pains-in-the-asses - and in the end, we learned that yes, we can make a difference.

I’m very proud of you all.


dust01 said...

Rep. McMahon, you don't fool us a bit. Your "no" vote on PelosiCare was not cast in the interest of your constituents. It was not based on any principle or core belief. In your explanation for your "no" vote, you didn't once cite Constitutional limits on federal power or your obligation to defend individual life, liberty and property. Rather, Mistress Pelosi, having secured the necessary 218 votes, gave you the order to vote "no", as she did other vulnerable Marxists in Republican-leaning districts, so that you could have some political cover in the coming election. But the ruse won't work. You see, We the People know who you are. You are Marionette Mike, Obama's bootlicking puppet and an enemy of liberty. Enjoy the rest of your first term, because it will be your last. The Revolution is coming... November 2010!

Coach Joe Gold said...

I'm one of those cynics. Although the Congressman did vote the right way, his manner of stalling and the way he didn't answer many of the tough questions asked of him in the Town Hall meeting leads me to believe that he was awaiting Pelosi's word on how to vote on this bill.

To many of us, this bill, along with that Cap and Trade Bill, is going to be the lynch pin that either keeps us within the system or drops us out of it. Because I cannot, for the life of me, be forced to participate in a system designed to make us slaves to a small group of people who will make billions of dollars off of this system. When freedom or slavery is at stake here, I'm always going to go for freedom, even if it kills me.

For those who support this bill, be warned. You're going to find enforcing the mandates impossible when many people drop off the grid.

American Angle said...

Hey it aint a beauty pageant..and I didn't expect the Democratic Congressman to be pretty while bucking his own Party.

Political expedience? You betcha. But I'll take his nay vote..and join the author w/ a kudos to the congressman for finally coming around to his constituents.

He could have followed the way of Chuck Schumer and the rest of those arrogant liberals goosestepping towards socialism...

Robert Erichsen said...

I would say his No vote was assuredly "allowed" by Speaker Pelosi.

About two week before the vote Congressman McMahon sent me a letter in response to my calls to his office about the bill. In short it was full of the President's talking points and did not include any of the supposed objections he recently talked of.

I listed some interesting statements he made in the letter along with my responses to them on his Facebook page. I encourage everyone to become a "fan" of his page there and let your voice be heard.

Galena said...

He woted YES for Cap and Trade! I'll take a good conservative Republican over this Democrat any day!

Nico said...

Yes, the congressman probably made a deal and was allowed to cast his nay vote since Pelosi had some wiggle room. I think the bigger point here is that by taking this position he has expended political capital that he might have been able to use elsewhere, while at the same time incurring a debt that will have to be repaid to his party.

It was undoubtably the pressure that you put on him with passion and resolve that forced his hand. Take some measure of success in that and redouble your efforts since you now can see that yes, your voice can make a difference. Come 2010 you take the next step in the battle.

Well done.

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