PINE BLUFF, AR – Congressional candidate Beth Anne Rankin of Magnolia said Arkansas’ ”Blue Dog” congressman didn’t bark when his voice was needed on July 31, 2009.
In a news conference Saturday, Rankin said the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved part of the Democrat’s health care legislation. The vote was 31 to 28. Five Democrats joined all 23 Republicans on the committee in opposing the measure. Congressman Mike Ross voted for it.
“Exactly one year ago today, Congressman Mike Ross sat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and he voted for the healthcare bill,” Rankin said. “The people of Arkansas had already spoken about that bill. They had been very clear in their distaste and distrust of that bill. Arkansans are unified in their belief that we need healthcare reform in America, but we need the right healthcare reform.”
Three House committees had to approve different parts of the bill. Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor passed all three parts. If one committee had not passed it, the bill would not have made it to the floor of the House.
“In that committee, Arkansas had an opportunity to lead. Arkansas had an opportunity to act. Arkansas had an opportunity to kill a bill which most Arkansans do not support” Rankin said. “We needed someone to stand up for us when we had that place at the table. Mike Ross caved. He gave in to the peer pressures and we lost that opportunity.”
The committee vote was the critical vote on that bill. By the time the bill reached the floor of the House of Representatives, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had enough votes to pass it with out Ross’s vote. When his vote didn’t count, he voted against it, she said.
She called the vote-juggling act “The Healthcare Hustle.”
“He had a choice — the people or Pelosi. Congressman Ross went with Nancy Pelosi,” Rankin said. “Congressman Mike Ross led the way with the Healthcare Hustle because Nancy Pelosi could count on him. The people of Arkansas needed to count on him, but it was Pelosi at the end of the day who was able to count on him.”
Ross calls himself a “Blue Dog” Democrat which allegedly means he is a conservative for a Democrat, said Rankin.
“I know Congressman Ross is proud of that Blue Dog reputation. Well, we needed our Blue Dog to bark on July 31, 2009. He did not bark,” Rankin said.
Voters in the 29 counties that make up the Fourth Congressional District should not accept excuses, she said.
“Congressman Ross will say he voted for it because the bill deserved debate. No sir! That bill did not deserve debate. Bad bills deserve to be killed. I’m sorry that in 10 years he hasn’t learned that,” Rankin said. “I would have voted against the health care bill one year ago today. That’s what you do in committees. You kill bad bills or you do surgery to fix them.”
The healthcare bill started out as a cost containment measure. The end result does nothing to control costs. Rankin said she is running to stop runaway spending in Washington. She wants the federal government to live within its budget just like Arkansas families must live within theirs.
“This bill is not going to help. If you have to tax people for four years before you launch it, the cost is not sustainable. The numbers just don’t crunch,” Rankin said.