The blue dog house sure has a foul smell about it.
I took this photo one week ago. It shows the Finance Committee of the United States Senate. The senators are marking up the Senate's health care reform bill. Max Baucus, chair of the Finance Committee is shown standing in the photo. In the foreground sits a journalist. Behind me, dozens of of health insurance lobbyists tap away on their blackberries. Others read Politico (which reads like it is mainly written for people like them).
The bill that finally emerged out of this committee hearing late the following night would mandate that most American citizens purchase insurance from corporations, yet do nothing to limit the cost of that insurance to consumers. The senators on the committee include many so-called conservatives Democrats or "blue dogs."
However, labels like "conservative" can be misleading, as the editors of the Nation explain:
The Blue Dogs parade as "fiscal conservatives" and "moderates," false advertising that the mainstream press mindlessly echoes. In fact, they are the epitome of a Washington captured by moneyed interests. They aren't working to ensure that healthcare reforms are paid for; they are laboring on behalf of insurance companies to protect their obscene profits. The Blue Dogs are maneuvering on behalf of Big Pharma to make sure the government won't negotiate reasonable drug prices. They're doing their best to derail reasonable tax hikes on the affluent, hikes that would make insurance affordable for working- and middle-class families.In other words, a blue dog is loyal to his master.
The Finance Committee blue dogs have now done just about they can to reward the insurance companies. Next on the committee agenda: giving away money to polluters and oil companies in the guise of writing climate change legislation.