Tag Archives: Health Care

Fiscal Cliff Alert Status for 2012.12.05: Condition Red

When it comes to the Fiscal Cliff, we all have much to lose.

The CBO projects that going over the cliff means that the economy takes a nosedive during 2Q 2013 and unemployment will easily break 9% by early 3Q 2013.

Should we go down the Fiscal Cliff path then 2013 will be a year of random misery as different parts of the economy adjust to magical movement of money, or lack thereof, in the marketplace. Ours is a marketplace addicted to subsidized money on both the left and the right, whether it be cheap credit cards, zero percent loans to large banks, defense spending or social spending, grants, shared underwriting of public programs or tax credits and deductibles for private investments.

Neither side is close to blinking. Neither side is close to have a ‘deal’ that their own party can support.

Negotiation on avoiding the Fiscal Cliff will go all the way to the 11th hour … and perhaps no deal will come about. More probable than just being possible at the moment.

President Obama has a strong hand for shooting down many aspects of what the GOP wants, although the GOP does not have any actual plan that is supported both within the House and the Senate as of yet. So criticism that Obama has rejected the GOP plan are largely empty words — there is no GOP plan that the GOP itself has endorsed that can provide a guaranteed 51%+ supportive vote in either the House or in the Senate.

And yet President Obama’s challenge is that he needs a deal that the GOP House will approve, and so far there is no real Democratic plan on the table that can provide a guaranteed 51%+ supportive vote in either the House or in the Senate.

The only two people that have a written plan are Simpson-and-Bowles … and neither the Dems nor the Reps are embracing it.

Today’s Risk Level of going over the edge: Condition Red

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Health Care in 2011 – Regulate it as a Utility

Health care should be regulated as if it were a public utility.

For some I know that this will be a stretch, but health care access is a public need.

No, the Emergency Room (ER) does not represent acceptable health care access — and using the ER degrades the quality of care that folks receive and only treats the symptoms of those that cannot afford a regular doctor.

Life isn’t fair. Until it becomes so then our society, or any civilized society with any compassion for the less well off or aged without resources, will eventually demand better care and some uniformity in the delivery and cost of medical services.

I have health coverage, very good health coverage. I also know those that do not. They are not lazy, unproductive citizens — none are looking to get by on the public dime. of course, neither do they have many dimes, or dollars.

I am not advocating for free or socialized medicine and medical care. I am saying that no American citizen should ever have to worry about trading off healthcare for food, to pay their electric bill or to give up their home. Means testing is fine with me. Means-tested copays are too.

Whether it is ObamaCare or RyanCare — please look all Americans in the eye and tell us that if we need medical care that it will be available if we cannot afford or some insurer refuses to provide coverage or both.

Taking care of our fellow Americans when in need is neither left nor right, liberal nor conservative. It is just the American thing to do.


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A Republican Waterloo – Losing The Health Care Reform Vote May Hurt Republicans More Than Democrats

by Dennis Sanders, RepublicansUnited.us
Commentary by Bill Golden, Bill4DogCatcher.com

David J. Frum is a Canadian American conservative journalist active in both USA and Canadian politics, a former economics speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and founder of FrumForum.com (formerly NewMajority.com), a political group blog.

David Frum lets conservatives and Republicans have it for their intransigence during the health care debate:

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

by Dennis Sanders, RepublicansUnited.us

I totally agree. GOP leadership can huff and puff all they like, but they aren’t going muster any votes to take away something that has been given to them. It’s a nice issue to stir up the passions of the base for the next few years, but let’s face it: this legislation is here to stay.

Sure, conservatives and Republicans might have their revenge in November and pick up a few seats-something that will make the hardliners feel good- but in the end, this is victory for the Democrats. We will end up with a bill that will be in effect long after the leading GOP leaders have left Washington.

Ross Douthat has made fun of moderate Republicans in the past for basically becoming the accountants of the welfare state- allowing Democrats to have their big government programs, but making sure these plans were fiscally sound. What would have happened had the party allowed Olympia Snowe to help work out a deal that would have made health care reform more fiscally sustainable? What if an Orrin Hatch (who is not a moderate) or Bob Bennett had been able to force a tax on so-called “Cadillac Plans” that would help fund the deal and also lead to some meaningful reform on costs?

We will never know because the leadership made damn sure no Republican cooperated. I think in the long run, this will be the GOP’s Waterloo, a big spectacular loss. We can’t see it now, but give it five or ten years.

We lost this one, big time.

Bill4DogCatcher.com sez: Tactics may win battles but poor strategy loses or wins wars. The Republican strategy had no tactics except delay and obstruction, and their strategy was to hope that the TEA Party rallied enough support to scare the bejesus out of lawmakers. A war lost due to squandered opportunities to capture the conversation and to work for the American people.

Here is the Election 2010 scenario as I see it: there will be a constitutional challenge to the passage of the Health Care Reform. However, there is a degree to which that really doesn’t matter. Timing will reward the Democrats.

The Supreme Court will not hurriedly accept appeals to overturn the new Health Care Reform Act. Sometime in 2011 may be the earliest that they accept a challenge, late 2010 at the earliest. This is bad news for Republicans.

Between now and late spring 2010 there are no major political issues for Republicans to champion. They have put all of their hopes into a single issue and failed miserably. Their closest allies, the TEA Party in particular, already consider the GOP largely impotent and this just proves it. Republicans can expect to face challenges across the nation in their primaries and in the general election from third party and independent conservatives.

Between now and late summer 2010 the economy will make improvements. These improvements will be sufficient enough to make President Obama and the Democrats look like they are doing good things — although I do predict an economic downturn in late 2010: see 2010 Dog Catcher Predictions – Economics, from January 3, 2010.

The Democrats, despite their historic ability to grab defeat from the jaws of victory, will do well enough in November 2010 to maintain control of one or both houses of Congress. The Republicans — between now and November 2010 — will descend into self-pity, playing pin the tail on the donkey, anger and will remain without a strategy.

There are issues that Republicans can win on in November but they will need to listen to cooler heads — and I think that there are some smart folks in the TEA party that actually have the basis for a winning plan, although TEA must work to overcome their negative imagery: one part deserved and one part the natural way politics works when there is strong disagreement and your opponent wants to paint you as being on the edge … about to fall off.

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Louise Slaughter (D-NY), House Rules Committee chair makes history. Partisan warfare will rise to new levels. Rep Slaughter loses no matter what she decides.

The national health care debate is complicated, contentious and already has folks across a wide spectrum of beliefs up in arms, whether they support it or oppose it.

Congressional bill “reconciliation” to get national health care passed through Congress was painful enough a procedural maneuver already for some. Now comes a maneuver never before used for an entitlements bill:  the “self-executing rule”.

Pain may be an understatement. Both Democrats and Republicans will hold one specific individual responsible for whether the “self-executing rule” can be used: Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who chairs the House Rules Committee, has been asked by Speaker Pelosi to rule whether the “self-executing rule” can be used to pass the health care reform bill in the House without actually anyone voting on it.

Listen to any news outlet today and you will hear how Speaker Pelosi wants to use this procedure to “deem” the health care bill passed — no vote required.

It all hangs on a decision by Representative Slaughter. If she says ‘no’ then unionists have said that they will come after her in the 2010 elections. If she says ‘yes’ then there is no doubt that her life will be total misery as both the Republicans and a wide variety of others come after her in the 2010 elections. She loses either way.

Definition of “Self-Executing Rule” (2006)

It is a “two-for-one” procedure. This means that when the House adopts a rule it also simultaneously agrees to dispose of a separate matter, which is specified in the rule itself. For instance, self-executing rules may stipulate that a discrete policy proposal is deemed to have passed the House and been incorporated in the bill to be taken up. The effect: neither in the House nor in the Committee of the Whole will lawmakers have an opportunity to amend or to vote separately on the “self-executed” provision. It was automatically agreed to when the House passed the rule. Rules of this sort contain customary, or “boilerplate,” language, such as: “The amendment printed in [section 2 of this resolution or in part 1 of the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution] shall be considered as adopted in the House and in the Committee of the Whole.”

Traditional Use: Originally, this type of rule was used to expedite House action in disposing of Senate amendments to House-passed bills.

Use of this rule will have the practical effect of turning Congress from being a battleground to almost civil war in working together.

Learn more about the history and interpretations of usage behind the “Self-Executing Rule”: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=congressional+self-executing+rule

This post by Bill Golden, aka Bill4DogCatcher.com, an independent observer of American political life, economics, and workforce issues.

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2010 Dog Catcher Predictions – Politics and Election 2010

Politics – Democrats

Democrats will miraculously survive the elections of 2010. But there will be significant turnover and new faces within the party after the elections.

The Democrats will get both sober and somber about presenting a unified front just after the beginning of 2010.

The Dems will do their best to finalize their health care bill passage. Both the House and the Senate will make compromises to pass it, realizing that if it doesn’t happen then it won’t happen for decades to come.

Democrats realize that they have squandered numerous major opportunities through 2009 and since the 2008 elections. They know that they will be facing 2010 voters comprised of a significantly hostile portion of the population, even within their own party.

They know that late 2010 promises to be ugly economically and that only a big fat liar would even suggest that they have a solution. So the Democrats will spend more time talking and seeking to coalesce around potential solutions. This is how they will want to be seen by the American voter in the 2010 elections. Their strategy will be to do as little as possible to create issues, and to let Republicans be Republicans — the Party of Anger and no new ideas.

!! Politics are so fluid that I will update my predictions in mid-July 2010.

TEA Partyers

The TEA Party machine will actively run candidates under its banner in 12-15 states. These will all be states with heavy concentrations of Republicans.

TEA Party candidates will also run under other banners, such as “Conservative Party” (Virginia) or as independents.

Whereever TEA Party candidates run it will undermine Republican candidates. I believe that TEA Partyers will actively seek to target Republican candidates as their #1 opponent, since registered Republican voters represent the greatest source of votes for each.

Any seats lost in Congress will go to either the Democrats or to the TEA Partyers.

!! Politics are so fluid that I will update my predictions in mid-July 2010.


Republicans generally will be glad that 2010 is over.

Huge divisions will emerge in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Republicans will become more conservative and more harsh in their rhetoric. Their #1 and #2 issues will be tax cuts to boost the economy, and their promise to repeal any health care act signed by Obama. That’s it. No other national message will emerge from the Republicans in 2010.

Republican rhetoric will only fuel growth of independents and TEA Partyers. Both will be self-inflicted torpedoes in the sides of the Republican warship.

Republicans remain in deep, deep denial about how they got to where they are. Wall Street Journal polling of late December 2009 paints two pictures of the Republican party. Voter trends favor generic Republican positions on issues over the Democratic position. However, when asked to give an approval rating of the performance of the president, the Democratic Congress, specific political leadership positions, etc., etc., the Republicans finished the year with the lowest approval rating of any of these, a whopping 5% approval rating … lower than even Nancy Pelosi personal rating.

!! Politics are so fluid that I will update my predictions in mid-July 2010.

2010 Elections

Democrats will lose 16-20 seats in the House and 1-2 in the Senate.

Republicans may pick up seats lost by the Democrats, or not. Seats lost by the Democrats are more likely to be won by TEA Partyers and self-described independents.

The Democrats will survive the elections of 2010 with control over both houses of Congress.

!! Politics are so fluid that I will update my predictions in mid-July 2010.

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Sen. Lugar (R-IN) proposes setting aside health care debate to pay for war. Afghanistan surge cost: $1,000,000 per soldier; DoD budget not enough.

Dog Catcher’s thoughts: It is a bit strange that we are just now debating the war’s cost after 8 years of being in Afghanistan. Not only is it expensive but this is the highest year on record for casualties. Our troops are tired and it is also the highest year on record for military suicides.

The Bush Administration named its doctrine  the Long War (DoD PowerPoint explaining the doctrine), and expectations were that we would be fighting it 10 years, 15 years or perhaps even indefinitely. Someone should have done a cost estimate. Someone should have leveled with the American people that the mission may never be accomplished, but that once you start a shooting war it isn’t over until someone loses or someone quits.

If I were a Democrat or America First kind of person: I would say no to delaying the health care debate. No to delaying the things that we never find time to discuss or get around to deciding on domestic issues.  For the first time in 100 years we are actually close to having a health care vote in Congress. Theodore Roosevelt started the health care debate in 1909 and now in 2009 we want to delay due to national security costs? I would not trust Republicans to ever get around to revisiting the health care debate. Not some. Not at all. I would propose that we discuss national security costs instead.

If I were a Republican or national security before all else person:  I would make the argument that America is essentially bankrupt and unfortunately we are not in a position to just walk away. And the status quo is not working either. So we need to get serious about pay-as-we-go; not only for the war but for everything. In Afghanistan we need to either totally change our game plan or step up our current game plan, which unfortunately will be expensive: about $1 million per every soldier we send to surge in Afghanistan.

As for Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) idea that we should get the rest of the world in on paying for the war: great idea but each of the nations in Afghanistan is already paying their own way. And European taxpayers are already paying for a “NATO” war that many of them find hard to understand. Won’t happen. But there is always the chance that we could make a case for it: the Pentagon reports that foreign countries paid for 97% of 1990’s Gulf War.

Hmmm? What would you do?

Fox News reports:

President Obama on Tuesday is expected to outline his plan to send around 30,000-35,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan over the next 12-18 months. The prime time speech comes as the Senate begins debate this week on expanding coverage of health insurance to 30 million Americans for six years at a cost of $848 billion.

The cost of the war surge is being estimated at $1 million per soldier for one year on the ground — or $30 billion to $35 billion additional dollars next year based on the president’s expected announcement.

Opponents of the war say America can’t afford that cost.

“What’s happening now is not only a $12 trillion national debt, we’re in the midst of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The middle class is collapsing. The gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. “So I’ve got a real problem about expanding this war where the rest of the world is sitting around and saying, ‘Isn’t it a nice thing that the taxpayers of the United States and the U.S. military are doing the work that the rest of the world should be doing?'”

Read Complete Story: Fox News Online

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Dem Progressives Emulate Republicans & Adopt ‘Shoot Self in Foot’ Single-Issue Attacks Against Own Kind

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) at BoldProgressives.org has decided to target Democrats running for reelection for not supporting PCCC’s endorsed vision or version of federally-controlled health care.

From the PCCC website:  “The below Democrats voted to kill health care reform in Congress. We can no longer elect people just because they have a ‘D’ next to their name. The PCCC is dedicated to electing bold progressives to Congress in 2010. Sign up to join our cause.

This should be a cause of celebration for Republicans who are busy chasing people out of their own party because they fail to properly vote the party line. With enough shooting of self in the foot then this will create more opportunities for independents to find a place on the ballots and for real change to happen in America.

Democrats on this reelection hit list:

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Health Reform – Spousal Abuse Is A Preexisting Condition?!

Can it really be that insurers can deny payment for health care due to spousal abuse?

Seems so in eight states and the District of Columbia.

The seven states are Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming, as well as the District of Columbia.

Just in April 2009, Arkansas passed a law prohibiting insurance discrimination against domestic violence survivors.

Get more information at the National Women’s Law Center.

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Health Care – When The Fight Resumes, Fall 2009 … Do Conservatives Have An Argument?

Now that Congress postponed in late July putting forth a national health care plan, we have more time to think through this.

Below is how I see the national health care option argument as it exists today.


A majority of Americans, however slight the majority, would like to see the U.S. have some form of national health care plan option. Increased unemployment in Fall 2009 could boost those support numbers, as long as President Obama and Congress are seen as making a good faith attempt at economic stabilization.


With a Democratic president and a strong majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Democrats could pass a national health plan without any Republican votes. This assumes Democrats can reach agreement. The pressure will be on in late 2009 to either pass or to suspend the campaign for a national health care plan. The Republicans have been totally ineffective so far in making a case against Obamacare. Republican natural allies, the Democratic Blue Dogs, have found themselves doing all of the heavy lifting as Republicans have spurned almost all attempts at bipartisanship or even working closely with the Blue Dogs.


The predominate counterargument is conservative. The conservative argument is that government should not do for people what people should do for themselves. The argument is also made that there are publicly available options to provide a safety net to the uninsured and to those unable to afford medical care;  business and the free market is more efficient at providing better and less expensive services than the government.

PREDICTION: The Democrats will come to some agreement prior to early 2010. While this will be too late for the 2010 Federal Budget Year, it will be a decision that conservatives and Republicans will be unable to roll back even should they do well in 2010 mid-term elections.

MY POSITION: I oppose a national plan. However, I believe that major reforms of the health care industry are not possible. The health care insurers like things the way they are (438% increase in profits since 2000), and they have invested heavily in funding non-reform with more than $440,000,000 given to Republicans since 2000 in campaign contributions.


Democratic Blue Dogs: Generally agree that national health care reform is needed but are very sensitive to anything which increases the national debt, and which does not seem like actual reform. Blue Dogs have the greatest chance to shape the winning argument.

Republicans: Chaos reigns within the party and they have no plan at all. Period.

Conservatives: The traditional conservative argument does not hold up under close inspection: publicly available resources are largely non-existent. They have no credible argument — see example of Virginia below.

Independents: Independents tend to take the Blue Dog position.


Virginia has much to be happy about. It has largely escaped the worst of the 2007-2009 Recession. It was, and remains, among the Top 3 most economically blessed states in the Union. And Virginia seems poised to grow in both wealth, affluence and influence. Virginia was just named the “Top State for Business” for the second time in three years.

Yet, Virginia has a health care issue. Many Virginians do not see the problem as pronounced as some other areas since 1 in 8 Virginians receive medical care through affiliation with current or past military service. Approximately 1 in 7 Virginians are not covered by health insurance of any kind.

The conservative arguments holds that where there is demand there will be a supply of service to meet that demand. It is also argued that private groups are already providing many of these services; a public health insurance plan would just hurt the efforts of these groups.

So how well does the conservative argument hold up? The common availability of public resources by private groups is largely myth.

Below is an example of the Free Clinic network in Virginia. A Free Clinic is a private, nonprofit, community-based or faith-based organization that provides compassionate, quality health care at little or no charge to low-income, uninsured people through heavy use of volunteer health professionals and partnerships with other health-related organizations.

After reviewing Virginia’s “safety net” health care network below, the nation’s second largest such network, you tell me how strong is the conservative argument of supply-and-demand, private providers work best.

Virginia – Population 7,700,000

— 1,061,000 uninsured Virginians.

— Total clinics statewide: 55.

— Virginia has the 2nd largest network of free health clinics in the USA.

— Virginia counties with no free health clinic at all: 30+

— Ratio of uninsured Virginians PER clinic: 20,000:1

— Efficiency: $5.40 of services provided for every $1 received; 75% private sector funding, many services are contributed.

— Eligibility for use: A family of 4 may earn no more than $25-31,000 (150-200% below the poverty level).

— Virginians can find a master list of free health care clinics online at http://www.vafreeclinics.org


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Health Care Reform – A Letter You Should Send NOW

If you want to help stop Health Care Reform as currently proposed then there are some important people that you need to contact. NOW, before August 1st.

Delay of voting is the goal. We need to get this right.

Below is a sample draft letter that you can edit and send as an email, fax or actual letter.

Please no rants or ravings.

These folks that I am asking that you write to have demonstrated a strong sense of responsibility and guts to try to do the right thing.

Moreover, most belong to a core group of Democrats called ‘Blue Dogs’.  Blue Dog conservative Democrats are in positions of committee leadership in both the House and the Senate.

These Blue Dogs have already told President Obama that they are not happy. Their 44 votes and influence carries more weight and significance than all the members of the Party-of-No combined.

Please help them do the right thing for America by letting them know that you care and support their efforts to either get it right or to delay until we do.



Dear Senator/Congressman XXX,

I ask that you take your time and not rush through passing a health care reform bill just because President Obama has asked for one.

The cost and the scope of such legislation will have immense impact on America for years to come. Once passed, it would be unwieldly to amend or to repeal legislation that may not achieve its goals.

In pulling together any final legislation I ask that you consider the following five (5) objectives to make this ‘good for America’:

  • — Little or no risk of this increasing America’s national debt. We already pay more than $560 billion per year in interest payments. Soon much of the principal of our debt will come due, most of it to foreign interests. Please do not put America further in debt to China and to other concerns which do not have our best interests at heart.
  • — Fix the rising cost of health care. No band aids. Real fixes, please. In 1981, 8% of Americans went bankrupt due to health care issues; that number rose to 62% in 2007, with 3 out of 4 (78%) such bankruptcies being among folks that actually did have health care (BusinessWeek/Harvard, 6/2009). If reform does not have firm metrics and procedures for controlling health care costs then it is not change that we need.
  • — Do not hurt small businesses. It is bad enough that small business has significant cash-flow problems due to the prolonged recession, but do not scuttle their chances for survival. The economic outlook over the next five years is challenging. Many small businesses are already on the brink. Help do not hurt.
  • — NO non-health care riders! Please do not sell us one thing and slip in other non-health care related funding items.
  • — Give us a chance to read and to understand what proposed legislation actually says. Rumor has it that the legislation is already more than 1,000 pages long. Please give America at least one additional day per every 25 pages of legislation so that we can read and understand why we are committing to the expenditure of more than $1 trillion.

Best regards,
Your Name
Your City & State


Please contact soonest:

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
(202) 224-2651

Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR)
House Energy and Commerce Committee
2436 Rayburn House Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-1314 Fax

Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA)
2204 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-3976
Fax (202) 225-4099

Congressman John Larson (D-CT)
106 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Ph: (202) 225-2265
Fx: (202) 225-1031

You should also write to your own Congressman and Senator.

Please NO RANTS. You will just come across as another lunatic … and they will ignore you. Give them talking points and a smile. Most of these folks are honest and in Washington for the right reasons. (Even if they are not, no one listens to rants or lunatics).

Get contact info for your Congressman or Senator at:

Representatives: http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml

Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Learn more about Blue Dog Democrats at http://www.house.gov/melancon/BlueDogs/

If you have the time, writing to each of these Blue Dogs would help. A master list of all official Blue Dogs: http://www.house.gov/melancon/BlueDogs/Member%20Page.html

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