We were critical on Friday of Rep. Jared Polis’ self-serving attempt to inject himself into the discussion on health care reform for a couple of reasons.
We thought that his criticism (in leading 20 freshman Democrats to sign a letter against some of the funding mechanisms) of the House legislation would only give footing to those who oppose reform, and it also gives credence to those who worried last year that Polis would not actually represent his district, but would largely represent himself. After all, there are surely very few Democrats in CD-2 who are going to be happy with Polis, who campaigned in a tough three-way primary that in large part dealt with the urgent need for health care reform.
We’re not sure what Polis thought he was accomplishing with his letter last week, other than trying to act like he had some sage advice on an issue that he is not an expert on, but we wonder how much he thought (if at all) about what his “leadership” might do for the public and private debate over reform. As The New York Times Caucus Blog writes today:
Congress charges ahead with thee separate health care reform bills this week, but under slightly reduced pressure from the White House. The administration does not seem to be driving quite as hard at the August deadline, perhaps under the weight of wary lawmakers, particularly Democrats…
…The Wall Street Journal adds that a group of Democrats elected in some of the nation’s wealthiest congressional districts may stand between President Obama and his efforts to pay for the reform with increased taxes. The article points out two Democrats who broke with the party line when the legislation came up in their House Education and Labor Committee last week – Representative Dina Titus, of suburban Las Vegas, and Jared Polis, who represents Boulder, Vail and some wealthy Denver suburbs. [Pols emphasis]
That’s what happens when you are one of the wealthiest members of Congress whose reputation is largely as someone who “bought” his seat, and then you go and publicly attack a funding mechanism that would tax the richest Americans. Polis looks like a dunce over this one, and if his opposition ends up crippling the health care reform legislation, he won’t be living this one down for a long time.
Polis can say whatever he wants in defense, but the bottom line is that his criticism of this bill and leading the way on the letter from 20 other freshman looks to cause real harm to the health care reform efforts. This was a boneheaded move for a Congressman representing a Democratic district.