Polis flare-up: freshman turns politics upside down on health-care reform

What is wealthy Boulder Democratic Congressman Jared Polis doing? Polis believes the proposed tax policy that would pay for health-care reform would be onerous for small businesses that file taxes as individuals. He thinks Democratic Congressional leaders should slow down the debate to explore new options. Did that young liberal say something about onerous taxes and businesses and slowing down the health-care debate? Oh happy day for the GOP opposition!

Has Polis gone mad? Is he naive? Power hungry? A temporarily clumsy communicator?

Something seems to have gone awry in all of this.

The problem is that Polis came out and made a spectacle of being against the plan. As Politico reported, Democratic leaders were horrified by Polis’s open letter protesting the tax plan, a letter signed by 21 Democratic freshman.

[S]taffers for the freshmen said they did give leaders a heads-up about their concerns and the letter. And they say freshmen want the bill to slow down.

So the crazy letter signers let the leadership know in advance. So were they discounted? Ignored? That’s not good leadership.

Then there’s the second part of that Politico quote:

[staffers] say freshmen want the bill to slow down.

Did they really say “slow down”? This is literally the anti-reform talking-points phrase promoted by the GOP as its only hope to scotch a health-care overhaul, which you might say the country has been trying to pass in various forms for 60 years.

“Slow down” means stall in the lexicon of Capitol Hill. As The Washington Independent reported today, two weeks ago in a poll conducted for the RNC and in a corresponding memo from Alex Castellanos, a GOP media consultant who worked for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Castellanos argued in the memo that Republicans could kill Democratic plans for health-care reform by dragging out the debate.

If we slow this sausage-making process down, we can defeat it.” The “key message” for Republicans would be “We’ve got to ‘SLOW DOWN the OBAMA EXPERIMENT WITH OUR HEALTH’.”

If nothing else, the last two days have demonstrated the House of Pelosi needs a communications counselor. Right now, any Democratic strategy to pass health-care reform hinges on better communication among members of the caucus, which includes all members avoiding saying anything ever about “slow downs” and “Obama experiments.”

Colorado Pols has a good round up of coverage on the issue.

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