Rep. Betty Sutton Commits to Voting No if No "Robust Public Option"

By David Swanson

I’m in Congresswoman Betty Sutton’s home town in Ohio and just spoke with her as she got ready to march in a Labor Day parade. She’s got a convertible red thunderbird (new one) full of bubble gum and 20 staffers in Re-Elect Sutton t-shirts to throw the gum to parade watchers (Mardi Gras Ohio style).

Mary Nichols Rhodes of Progressive Democrats of America introduced me to Sutton. I gave her my book “Daybreak.” One of her staffers took a photo of the two of us with the congresswoman holding the book up. Then I asked her if she would vote No on any healthcare bill that did not have a strong immediate public option.

At first she tried to fudge it by saying “I think a robust public option is essential….” I asked “Is that a yes?” Then she said “I have told the leadership that the bill must include a robust public option…” I asked “Or you’ll vote no?” And she said “yes, yes,” and looked at me, and she understood perfectly that she was making a commitment. I’d had to ask three times before she did. But she did. Mary is my witness.

Then I asked why she had sponsored HR 676 for national single-payer in the last congress but not in this congress. She claimed that she could do more in committee if she was not a sponsor of that bill. So, there you have her to all appearances lying to me in the next breath after having made the commitment on a public option. (Unless someone can explain how she could do more in committee by not being a sponsor of a good bill.) So, take it for what it’s worth. She made the commitment.

She also committed to voting yes on the Weiner amendment, which took no prompting at all, and she openly admitted (rather adamantly) that it wouldn’t pass. But when I tried to get her to take any sort of action to support keeping the Kucinich amendment in the bill she demurred, saying – rather mysteriously – that she didn’t think that amendment was as important as a lot of people think. That sounds like not important at all, since most people have never heard of it and not a single congress member other than Kucinich has spoken up for it. (I also asked Rep. Tim Ryan’s district counsel yesterday to ask him to speak up in support — we’ll see. This counsel is actually running for state office and there is a state single-payer bill in the Ohio legislature, which he supports.)

As I tried to get to why she’d voted for the war supplemental in June, Sutton had to run as the parade was beginning.

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