After the speeches at last night’s Indiana Democratic Party’s Holiday Celebration there were many kind remarks made about Eighth District Congressman Brad Ellsworth’s smooth and affable remarks about the Democrats’ bigger tent and Second District’s Joe Donnelly’s friendly and likable working-class understanding of the health-care debate and both, to be sure, made great cases for their status as blue dogs and their dedication to helping President Obama move our nation in the right direction. But everyone was abuzz about Ninth District Congressman Baron Hill’s forceful discussion of how Democrats are struggling with putting our nation right after “The Decade from Hell.” Hill’s “Decade From Hell” reference comes from the latest issue of Time Magazine he held up. He used it as the example of what the new congress is trying to dig out from.
He reminded everyone that the President inherited “an economy in free-fall, huge amounts of TARP debt the Bush Administration had already added to the largest and fastest growing debt in the nation’s history and two wars.”
He went on to discuss TARP. “As blue dogs it was very difficult to vote for borrowing $700 billion. But the projections pointed to a disastrous depression. I’m proud of my blue dog status as I know Brad (Congressman Ellsworth) and Joe (Congressman Donnelly) are. Voting for that type of borrowing goes against every fiber of our being. But we sought to avoid a depression and now employment is beginning to rise and the economy is slowly rebounding.”
He went on to say he was certain it was the right vote given the circumstances and that history will bear that out.
He returned to he and his fellow Indiana blue dogs by discussing the health-care debate, reminding everyone that “while we may have had some important questions and tough sticking points, in the end everyone here needs to remember that we did vote to pass that health-care bill out of the House. And I know we are very proud of that.”
He went on to remind everybody of the wave of support that swept this Congress and Senate into a large Democratic majority with our new Democratic President. But he expressed a certain nostalgia for that wave of support.
“Sometimes it seems that some of those supporters have decided ‘well we helped get you guys in our work is done.’ Well folks, that just isn’t how it works.”
He went on to remind that some may be developing a fatigue with the length of and the radical obstructionism around the health-care debate but that is “how it works historically.”
Without chastising, the congressman reminded all that the major efforts that helped change this country for the better, like the civil rights movement, were debated for months and years and were surrounded by the worst types of obstruction and demagoguery.
In waht obviously wasn’t an example of the worst type, but none the less was illustrative of the Republican mentality on the Hill, he told a story about a meeting with Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota.
“Don’t you think we should do something about the 57,000 people a year who die from not having health insurance?” he asked the Senator.
To which the Senator replied, “certainly I do, but not what you guys are doing.”
“What do you suggest we do then,” Hill countered.
“I don’t know, but not what you guys are doing.”
“That basically is what the Republican effort for health-care reform consists of.”
He wrapped it up by gently imploring people to stay engaged. This thing (health-care reform) is taking shape and “I feel very optimistic that a bill will be sent to the presidents desk before the end of January.”
“Merry Christmas everyone,” he finished.
Merry Christmas and thank you Congressman Hill.