One more obligatory note, political, on the health care votes last night on the U.S. House floor. It was the occasion of one of Idaho Democratic Representative Walt Minnick's tougher votes, and what he did may have some significant political repercussions. The votes may simply have been votes of conscience, in which case he may have done what he felt he had to do. Whatever his motivation, there will be political results.
First, he voted against the main House bill, arguing that it doesn't adequately cut costs in the system. The vote against the Democratic health bill will cost him with a Democratic base (and yes, even in the Idaho 1st, there is one) increasingly sensing in Minnick a Republican wearing a Democratic label. The health care vote might have been one of the few remaining major opportunities for building bridges back to the base.
Before getting to that vote on the full bill, there were other votes, and the most notably was on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which was aimed at barring use of federal funds for abortion-related payments. The amendment came from and was backed by a number of Blue Dog Democrats as well as Republicans, but Minnick voted against it; in a statement, he said he does “not want a government bureaucrat denying a medical procedure ordered by a woman’s physician.”
Okay, but in casting that vote he handed Republicans the big emotional divisive talking point they need. The Idaho Choose Life site had this devastating formulation: "After standing-up for free abortions as an essential health care right for women, he went on to vote against the broader health care bill. One could understand Mr. Minnick’s priority to be abortion, but not basic health care."
On Idaho Conservative Blogger: "I think Mr. Minnick just opened a huge winning issue for whoever gets the Republican nomination to challenge Minnick next year."
If these were votes of conscience, then he did what he had to. But they will come with price tags.