Also touts her moderate credentials, saying fixing Obamacare better than radical single-payer solution
Democrats in Congress had one message they wanted to get out last week: “We’re the party of electoral and ethics reform.”
To that end, House Democrats passed HR1, a 500-page package of reforms designed to protect the integrity of free and fair elections, make it easier to register and vote, reduce the role big money plays in the electoral process and use taxpayer money to help fund congressional elections.
“We want to end the reign of big money in politics,” said U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D- East Moline, with whom I talked Thursday as Democrats were trying to whip up enthusiasm for their signature reform bill.
HR1 passed the House early Friday morning, 234 to 193, on a party line vote.
“For the life of me I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to get behind this bill,” she said about Republicans’ opposition.
“Politicians like Mitch McConnell feel threatened by this,” Bustos said.
McConnell, R-Kentucky, is the Senate majority leader, and he said HR1 is a power grab by Democrats to try to make them the permanent governing party. He called it “the Democrat Politicians Protection Act,” and the bill is considered dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate. Senate Republicans are not expected to even bring it up for a vote.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed that the bill is a power grab, but “a power grab on behalf of the people.”
In reality, the bill will be something that Democrats will use in the 2020 campaigns to hammer away at President Donald Trump and Republicans seeking re-election or election.
Bustos, who was recently elected chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said she has been working on making these reforms a reality for two years.
“It promotes automatic voter registration, it would end partisan gerrymandering, making sure that politicians don’t pick their voters,” Bustos said. The bill would also force presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.
Democrats, she said, have three goals during this congressional session, and HR 1 is the first. The other two are passing an infrastructure bill and improving access to affordable medical care while lowering the price of prescription drugs.
“I hope we can see passage of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill; the president wants a robust infrastructure bill. I’m one of the most bipartisan members of Congress; I think we will figure out how to work together on this,” Bustos said.
Perhaps the most controversial part of the House Democrats’ agenda is health care. Left-wing House Democrats are promoting universal, single-payer medical insurance.
Bustos’ job is to maintain and even grow the Democrats’ House majority in 2020 so she’s wary of promoting the left’s agenda. She said the prudent choice is to make improvements in the Affordable Care Act and make the existing system more affordable.
While radical Democratic House members are attracting most of the national media’s attention, which Bustos called a ”Beltway narrative,” most Democrats are more moderate and less flamboyant, she believes.
“I’m a member of the New Democrat coalition, there are 101 of us, all reasonable Democrats. We understand fighting for workers, but we also know that you don’t have workers without businesses,” Bustos said.
She reminded me that there is still a wide gap between moderate Democrats like her and Republicans when it comes to health care affordability and coverage.
“Remember, the Republicans are in court right now to make sure you don’t have access to affordable care if you have a pre-existing condition,” Bustos said.
Twenty Republican state attorneys general have sued in federal court, arguing that because the individual mandate is no longer in effect, the whole Affordable Care Act should be declared dead, at least in those 20 states.
Bustos does have some hope that a bipartisan solution can be found to curb the rapid increases in prescription drug prices for commonly used drugs like insulin.
“We can’t sustain these increases,” she said. “The president says he’s willing to sign good legislation” to reduce prescription costs, she said.
“This summer we will have hearings on the cost of health care.”
Chuck Sweeny: firstname.lastname@example.org; @ChuckSweeny
01-All No Sub,02-Pol,19-Legal,22-Talk,26-Delivered,HL,HL New,RKPRS HL
Columns,Region: Northern,Feeds,Region: Rockford,Opinion,City: Rockford
via Chuck Sweeny – Rockford Register Star https://ift.tt/2INTa0p
March 9, 2019 at 09:12AM