Where is Mike Ross? | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where is Mike Ross?

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 8:42 AM

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross is careful where he's seen in public. He'll attend town halls packed with opponents of health care reform, some of them planted by the paid operatives stirring this issue in Arkansas and elsewhere. He'll certainly speak to the LR Chamber of Commerce, as he did yesterday at a session sponsored by a major health care provider (Delta Dental). He'll come early and stay late at campaign finance bundlers' parties, held by the health care industry and by major polluters to benefit Ross for his reliable vote on their side.

He won't take calls from the Arkansas Times about the likes of his fund-raisers by polluters shortly before his vote for them in the clean air debate. And today, it's National Public Radio he doesn't want to talk to. Ross was featured prominently in an NPR piece today about representatives standing in the way of universal health coverage despite high numbers of uninsured in their district. Ross claims that he's formed his position from town hall meetings (at one of which, NPR noted, he got a total of three remarks on health care.)

It's a basic truth of political analysis that low-income residents — that is, those most likely to be uninsured — are less likely than middle-class people to attend town meetings and less likely to vote. To state the obvious, the poor are also less likely to make campaign contributions.

Meanwhile, health care corporations and professional organizations have actively engaged the Blue Dogs. So far this year, the Blue Dogs' political action committee has received $301,500 from health care and health insurance PACs. Ross, the coalition's lead negotiator, has received $100,600 for his campaign committee and a PAC that he operates.

Ross got together with health care industry donors in June, around the same time the Blue Dogs were challenging the House bill. The event brought his campaign at least $20,000 from health care PACs.

NPR asked repeatedly to interview Ross over a two-week period. His office didn't respond.

Ross did some pitiful whining yesterday about his critics, safe among the fatcats who finance him. He better hope folks in his district don't read his mewling, because he was talking unhappily about them. That was made clear by the Daily Kos poll (by a non-partisan polling firm). It showed a plurality of people in his district support a government option for health insurance. Moreover, DEMOCRATS favor a public option in his district 74-19. Ross also carries a 42 percent unfavorable rating in his district.

Ross is terrible on any number of issues. He probably is unbeatable, despite the negative numbers. But it would be nice to see a Democrat challenge him in the primary and force Ross to act  like a Democrat for once, not just on health care and the environment, but also on human rights issues where he consistently votes Republican.

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