Dem's the Breaks: Illinois Democrats Turn on Obama's Health Bill

Split in congressional delegation imperils health care bill

By Steve Rhodes
|  Friday, Aug 7, 2009  |  Updated 9:14 AM CDT
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President Obama's health plan doesn't enjoy a home court advantage.

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Even Obama's home state Dems aren't sold on the crucial centerpiece of the president domestic agenda, and it's the issue which could define his presidency.

While no member of the Illinois delegation belongs to the U.S. House's Blue Dog Coalition, conservative Dems whose profile most matches the Blue Dogs are barking at the president's plan.

Rep. Melissa Bean (D-8th) said she is still not convinced that the health care bill as it's currently written "measurably reduces increasing health care costs for American families, business and our government while protecting quality of care,'" according to the Southtown Star.

Two other Southland Dems, Dan Lapinski and Debbi Halvorson, remain undecided as well. 

"It is critical that this bill constitutes real reform and avoids pouring more money into a broken system," Lipinski said in a statement.

And perhaps most strikingly,  Halvorson is "firm in her stance that reform cannot happen until we get it right," a spokesperson told the Star. Halvorson ran for Congress on a health care agenda.

Rep. Bill Foster is also reportedly undecided; a spokesman says only that he supports the plan "in theory."

Meanwhile, Progress Illinois reports that the more liberal wing of Illinois congressional Democrats, such as Jesse Jackson Jr., Luis Gutierrez and Phil Hare, are pushing back against the measures the Blue Dogs are asking for to temper the health care reform bill.

And Rep. Jan Schakowksy is leading the health care effort on behalf of the House Progressive Caucus, which includes Jackson, Gutierrez and Hare, as well as Danny Davis and Bobby Rush.

But the progressives appear to be losing ground - according to Schakowsky herself.

After a rally on health care at Chicago's Federal Plaze, Schakowsky said she fears backers may be losing public support, according to the Daily Herald.

"I am concerned that they've spent lots and lots of effort and money to try to fool the people once again," she said of opponents, including insurance companies.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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