I've been skeptical that Arcuri ultimately would vote no, given that support from unions and the Working Families' Party is on the line.
Yet it appears that Arcuri is digging in. He has just released a press statement saying he will vote no.
"I have made my decision. I cannot support the health care package that is likely to be voted on later this week.
"There is no question we must fix our nation's broken health care system. I supported a health care bill last year that controlled costs for those with insurance and made insurance affordable for those without it. The health care package expected to be voted on in the coming days doesn't do enough to keep health care costs in check.
"I didn't come to this decision lightly. In the last few weeks, I have received tens of thousands of phone calls, faxes and emails from families and senior citizens - all telling me how they feel about health care reform. I've spoken with hundreds of people in grocery stores, at community events, and at my Congressional offices. I have talked to small business owners from Herkimer to Geneva who desperately need health care reform but, uniformly, they tell me this new proposal will hurt them and their employees across the board. I've listened to my constituents and have heard their concerns clearly.
"And after several meetings and conversations with the President, Speaker of the House, Administration officials and colleagues, I am not convinced enough changes can be made to the Senate health care bill to meet the needs of the people in my district.
"My opposition to this health care reform package is based on three items that I feel are essential if we hope to make insurance affordable for those who don't have it and lower costs for those who do have it.- Doesn't allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. - Doesn't remove the anti-trust exemption for insurance companies; - Includes an excise tax on high-quality health insurance plans (i.e. Cadillac Plans).
"I am not convinced that after months of listening, studying and debating that the current bill benefits the people in my district in the best possible way, and that's why I cannot support it."
His substantive reasons for opposing it are mostly crap. Yes, Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices, but they can't do that under the status quo; the health care bill hardly makes this situation worse and that's something that can be addressed in the future. The anti-trust provision could easily be addressed by a separate, standalone bill or attached to a future must-pass bill, such as an appropriations bill. And besides, it's pretty much symbolic (the practical effect of lifting antitrust exemptions would be virtually nill.) I can understand the opposition to the Cadillac tax, but, again, unions signed off on the current version.
If he's doing this because he's scared of a tough reelection campaign, he's being an absolute idiot. He's a former yes vote, and flipping to no is only going to mean his opponent tars him as a flip-flopper and institutional support abandons him.
UPDATE: Wow, that was quick. Per mark louis below, the SEIU is pulling their support, as threatened.
From Greg Sargent:
It appears SEIU is dead serious about this business about yanking support for House Dems who vote No on the health bill.
The SEIU bluntly informed Dem Rep Michael Arcuri of New York yesterday that it’s pulling support for him in the wake of the news that he’s an all-but-certain No, I’m told. And the search for a primary or third-party challenger is underway.
Jerry Dennis, the president of SEIU local 200, which represents 14,000 workers statewide in New York, called Arcuri yesterday and delivered the news, SEIU spokesman Matt Nerzig tells me.
“Jerry called him yesterday and told him it’ll be very difficult to support him come next election if he’s not on this bill,” Nerzig says. “The search for alternatives has already begun.”
“This guy won by two percent with our support and 1199’s support against a moderate Republican last time,” Nerzig continues. “It’ll be very difficult for him to win reelection next time without us.” Arcuri won with 52% of the vote in 2008.
It’s worth reiterating that this threat is very real. Arcuri could lose without the ground and cash support of labor. Also, because of the powerhouse Working Families Party in New York, a labor-backed third party challenge could be a career-ender for pols like him.
To think that back in '06 he seemed like a rising star. I even used to like him.
What an idiot. His political career is over. Say hello to Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY).