Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Should I Give Henry Waxman Money?

With my much-loved Nancy Pelosi's Speakership secure, I don't care that much about converting another Republican seat into a Blue Dog seat. And while there are some vulnerable Democrats I'm interested in defending -- Tom Perriello's international human rights heroism makes me interested in helping him -- there really aren't many people on there who I see as having a big progressive impact.

So I'm starting to think that it might be time to throw some money at the awesomest legislator in the House, Henry Waxman, in hopes of giving him a big pile of cash that he can use for various wonderful Waxpurposes. Like: gaining influence for his Waxprojects by donating his stash to other Congresscritters. I've read so many awesome articles about Henry Waxman that I can't remember which one I heard this from, but apparently one of the secrets to his success was making contributions from his personal stash to other Congressional Democrats. This was effective in causing them to cast excellent Waxvotes.

If you're wondering why I'm being so Waxlaudatory here (I promise that's the last one), let these Henry Waxman Facts be your appetizer:

In the midst of the Reagan era's cutbacks, Waxman expanded the number of working poor eligible for Medicaid a stunning 24 times.

For virtually the entire 1980s, Waxman blocked Dingell and the Reagan administration from weakening auto emission standards. At one point, he blocked a key vote on a bill to debilitate the Clean Air Act by introducing 600 amendments, which he had wheeled into the room in shopping carts.

He publicized an obscure EPA report that established secondhand smoke as a carcinogen, uncovered the onetime Philip Morris lab director who had determined that nicotine was addictive, and publicly grilled tobacco company CEOs about their failure to share that fact with the public.

And then, for your main course, you can read Charlie Homans' piece in the Washington Monthly on how Waxman always wins. I guess I should keep our Klein/Yglesias streak unbroken by linking to today's Ezra Klein interview for dessert.


ikl said...

Perriello also voted for the climate change bill despite being in a district where that could be risky. Plus he is young and therefore has a lot of time to do good things in the future. I'd say that he is worth a donation.

I'd also consider donating to Paul Hodes (D-NH) who is running for Senate. He is fairly progressive and would be a safe vote on almost anything progressive. Carnahan and whoever is the Dem nominee in Ohio should also be high priorities.

Ankush Khardori said...

Yeah, to be perfectly honest, because I like you guys, you're in my RSS feed, but you're dangerously close to being axed. Increasingly you're becoming redundant to Yglesias and Klein. There are other, non-duplicative feeds to fill my reader.

Maybe write about other stuff? I realize why you're doing it -- you're getting links from them -- but I think it's becoming self-defeating.

Neil Sinhababu said...

I realize why you're doing it -- you're getting links from them

Well, no. I do it because it's My Neat Politicsy Idea Of The Day. And I don't recall a "give money to senior Democrats because that's the best way to generate progressive change" post from either EK or MY. It was all my idea, at least today! And I wanted feedback on whether it works.

If you're bored, go read something else. We won't mind.

Neil Sinhababu said...

I should clarify -- obviously I was thinking of Waxman because of Ezra's Waxman post. But I really want to know if giving money to him to increase his influence is a highly effective strategy.

Dennis said...

Inasmuch as you think cash to Waxman is simple passthrough to Democrats you'd want money to go to anyway *and* you think that value can be added by him doing the giving, I think you go for it. I am, however, a little skeptical -- coralling shaky house dems is less important than it's ever been, and for that reason your liklihood of wanting money to go to shaky house dems is also low.

In the Senate things are indubidably different, but you can also count seats in need of defense versus shaky votes on healthcare fairly easily and make your own call.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Yeah, the "We don't need no stinkin' additional House votes!" thing is a serious objection here.

Some sort of response: I was blogging a couple days ago about Collin Peterson, the Ag committee DINO who was causing trouble for Waxman-Markey. Insofar as Waxman can make credible threats to cause him trouble of some kind, our position is a stronger one. And this seems to have mattered, with Waxman-Markey having passed with only 219 votes. Sure, things will get watered down in the Senate and all. But final bills are a House-Senate compromise, and insofar as strengthening the House side of that deal strengthens the final product, it seems worthwhile.

Dennis said...

I wonder whether waxman-markey was really a valid test vote -- exactly because the sticking point was the Senate there was little incentive to rack up the score. I think it's non-obvious that Waxman could have made a better bill with a little extra cash.

Money, after all, does not make Waxman more threatening.

Ankush Khardori said...

If you're bored, go read something else.

Good idea. Shoot me an e-mail if you ever link to something I didn't read two hours earlier.