Blue Dog Blues

01 Oct 2013 08:20 pm
Posted by: Donna

The government shut down Monday night, on the eve of Obamacare exchanges opening to new applicants, and lots of folks in liberal/Dem activist circles in Phoenix are furious with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema for voting with the GOP on exempting medical device providers from new taxes and delaying the individual mandate for one year.

But let’s be clear that Sinema did NOT vote to defund the Affordable Care Act itself, as many are accusing, nor to shut the government down, as I’ve seen a few people allege. I actually agree with the Congresswoman that delaying the individual mandate would not cause the whole program to collapse (yes, I know all the arguments for the need for the mandate right now! and I think they’re rooted in a strain of authoritarianism and some really false and ugly “Welfare Queen”-type stereotypes about uninsured young people, so save it). The subsidies are way more important and always have been. There’s no defense for the medical devices vote but I really don’t think Kyrsten Sinema acted out of malice or is a stealth Republican because of that either.

My main objection to her taking those votes is not on her stated reasons for doing so. It’s that this – a standoff over shutting down the government – was not a super good time to reach across the aisle. The Republicans were not trying to “improve” the health care law with their amendments. They were attacking Obamacare, as always, and they were running the clock down for the shutdown they wanted to happen. Every one of those GOP amendments was a hostage taking. Furthermore, even if you assume Sinema did think those amendments were good ideas, neither she nor the handful of Dems who joined her were needed to get them through the House. And there was no chance those amendments were going to make it through the Senate.

So these appear to be “cover votes” – that is, votes taken by members in tough districts to demonstrate how moderate and/or willing to defy the party line they are. I can’t say that for sure because I’m a lowly constituent and not in attendance at the strategy meetings. But that’s what they look like, and while I get the need to take them from time to time, this was not one of those times. Monday night called for all Democrats in Congress to be a unified voice saying NO to the Republicans’ destructive temper tantrum. It was most certainly not the time for a few Democrats to give the GOP the cover needed to call their nihilistic crusade “bipartisan”.


  1. Comment by Diane D'Angelo on October 1, 2013 9:24 pm

    I’m beyond tired of “cover votes,” especially on one of the few successes of the Obama Administration, and even more so from electeds like Sinema who has repeatedly positioned herself as the groovy bisexual atheist liberal who can out-smart the GOP.

  2. Pingback by Blue Dog Blues - on October 1, 2013 9:53 pm

    […] Donna The government shut down Monday night, on the eve of Obamacare exchanges opening to new applicants, […]

  3. Comment by Ron Pies on October 1, 2013 10:03 pm

    I agree, Diane. This was the pattern that Krysten used during her time in the legislature. I am sure we all remember her famous reference to Senator Pearce being her “boss”. Sorry, I don’t buy the delay. It would only come back to bite us. Remember, ACA is the law.

  4. Comment by Sam Pstross on October 1, 2013 10:15 pm

    Perhaps Sinema voted as a cover to appeal to right-wing leaning voters… so what. Her vote didn’t matter anyway and if this helps her get something that matters passed in the future and/or re-elected so she can vote the right way when it matters, then that’s fine with me. After all, it’s politics and the budget she voted for was not that bad (I actually think it was somewhat reasonable, even if it had remnants of the GOP tantrum laced in it). Most Americans don’t give a rats ass if a few Dems voted with the whiny elephants who call that bipartisan – all they know is that our government is shut down because Congress sucks.

    And let’s face it, this shut down is a sweet holiday for Democrats (sans Sinema apparently), because it makes the GOP look utterly ridiculous. Again, so what if not all of the Democrats ‘stood up’ against the toddlers, especially if their vote did not matter.

    So, now let’s just hope they get a budget passed fast, because our government should not be shut down over this AND I do not want to start my day again listening to Schweikert gloat about the abysmal state of our union.

  5. Comment by stephen ehre on October 1, 2013 10:36 pm

    Sorry, but I think there are times for a cover vote and this was NOT the time. I will never trust her again. She needed to stand with her party. This was not a conscience vote. It was a disgraceful action and the leadership will screw her in the future and rightfully so. I suspect she will be on the Fish and Game committee in the future…it’s what she deserves!

  6. Comment by Aaron Jahneke on October 1, 2013 10:44 pm

    My issue with certain cover votes is that the opponents will lie about them anyway, so why do it? No one cared when Sam Coppersmith voted against Clinton’s budget when he ran for senate against Jon Kyl. He still lost. I don’t think Sinema is in any trouble in that district anyway. If I lived in her district I would still vote for her.

  7. Comment by Phoenix Justice on October 2, 2013 5:56 am

    The problem with a “cover vote” is that it shows Congresswoman Sinema caring more about getting reelected than about the people in her district. Look, right wingers will never vote for Congresswoman Sinema, no matter how “moderate” she tries to appear. I keep telling people in the Democratic Party, act like actual Democrats. Stop trying to be Republican-Lite.

    If the 2010 elections proved anything, is that Blue Dogs will lose out more often in tight districts than will progressives and liberals. Voters are looking for a distinction and if their choices are “tea party” adherents or Blue Dogs, they will vote for the “tea party” morons every time.

    So, a word of advice to Congresswoman Sinema: Stop worrying about reelection and start working for the people in your district.

  8. Comment by Paige Murphy-Young on October 2, 2013 10:39 am

    Thank goodness the [Very!] Honorable Harry Mitchell didn’t indulge in a cover vote when the ACA came up!

  9. Comment by Sam Pstross on October 2, 2013 10:48 am

    She’s only been in office for less than a year and I think she has done a lot for people in her district. Sure, the things she’s done often go hand in hand with campaigning for re-election, but every day I read about some organization she is supporting in some way. Yes, she is very ambitious, but so are most politicians. She knows if she doesn’t help her district she won’t be re-elected.

    What has she neglected in her district? Who has asked her for help that she ended up hurting? How is she hurting her district?

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