The Congressional Black Caucus is blasting away at Blue Dog Democrats and other fiscal conservatives in their own party for making "spurious" claims about the high cost of the House health reform plan, POLITICO has learned.
The issue isn’t about race, aides tell me. It’s about the CBC, which represents some of the most progressive members in the House, wanting to have a say in final negotiations — and to prevent party conservatives from dominating.
The 42-member caucus, whose support is crucial for the passage of any plan, is worried that intense talks going on between the Dogs, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and House leaders will undermine efforts to provide quality coverage to the poor and working class.
Late Thursday, the CBC sent identically-worded letters to Pelosi and President Obama arguing against possible cuts to hospital reimbursements, funding for proposed programs dealing with minority health disparities and cash for childrens services, mental health and preventive care.
The letter, drafted by CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) also warns Pelosi and Obama against weakening a "public option" plan through the use of a procedural trigger.
Some key excerpts:
In recent days, some within the Democratic Caucus have raised spurious claims that the cost of reforming health care in America is something our nation cannot afford. If we fail to act now, we do so at the peril of the American people – especially the 46 million who are currently living without health care coverage and those who are not only more likely to suffer from poorer health, but also from the economic consequences of absorbing health care costs that far exceed their budgets. Thus, we must act and we must – per the request of President Obama – act quickly, yet thoughtfully because the quality of life of millions of Americans and the health of our economy hang in the balance.
We are very concerned about the current negotiations and feel that it is necessary to restate our strong position on several issues and provisions going forward.
[The whole letter after the jump]