Thursday, July 1, 2010

Recognizing Marcy Kaptur's CHUTZPAH (finally!)

According to my records, Marcy Kaptur's only Chutzpah of the Week award is shared with 56 of her progressive colleagues (one of whom, of course, was Dennis Kucinich). This was for a letter to Nancy Pelosi written about a year ago concerning the risk that health care legislation was more likely to undermine prospects of reform than further it. Sadly, this effort turned out a bit like a joke that my composition teacher used to tell:

They warned him that, if he did that sort of thing in the woods, the bears would get him, and he did, and the bears did.

If there is any doubt that, as far as health care is concerned, "the bears did," we only have to check Victoria Colliver's story in this morning's San Francisco Chronicle:

After taking heat for proposing to raise insurance rates as high as 39 percent, Anthem Blue Cross proposed rates Wednesday that would raise health premiums by an average of 14 percent and as much as 20 percent for thousands of California consumers.

The Woodland Hills (Los Angeles County) health insurer, which had withdrawn its previous proposal after an independent audit found errors in its rate calculations, submitted new filings Wednesday with the state Department of Insurance and the Department of Managed Health Care.

If there are no delays, the rates will go into effect Sept. 1, said Kristin Binns, spokeswoman for WellPoint Inc., Anthem's parent company. She said the rates will affect about 600,000 California consumers, all of whom have individual rather than group or employer policies.

My guess is that Kaptur hates being right about things like this as much as I do!

Fortunately, she has the persistence of the pink bunny and has shifted her focus to the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on 2009. As had been the case with health care reform, I have John Nichols and The Beat blog to thank for bringing my attention to her latest act of chutzpah. As Nichols reported on this morning's post, Kaptur voted against the aforementioned bill when it came up for vote in the House of Representatives. The bill still passed on a 237-192 vote, but Kaptur held her ground in the interest of her constituents on Main Street. Nichols reproduced her justification:

The bill allows financial power to create wealth, the bankers’ awesome power, to be closely held in a few Wall Street and Charlotte- based megabanks. The bill does not address the business model of credit rating agencies or how interwoven these nongovernmental agencies are with the institutions they rate. The bill does not require that all derivatives be traded through transparent exchanges. The bill does not adequately support both agencies dedicated to finding and fighting fraud in our financial system, and it really doesn’t do anything to address the continuing mortgage foreclosure hemorrhage, the crisis going on across our country.

In the context of my own post yesterday, Kaptur clearly understands the difference between a government that represents its electorate and one that represents bought-and-paid-for influence; and she continues to try to get her colleagues to recognize that difference. In other words she has the chutzpah to go against the normative practices of politics; and in this case she did this so well that she clearly deserves her first "solo" Chutzpah of the Week award.

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