So Who Does Cathy McMorris Rodgers Represent, Anyway?

01 Feb

Timothy Egan has a spot-on editorial in the New York Times about Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ response to President Obama’s State Of The Union speech last Tuesday. McMorris Rodgers, who represents Washington’s fifth congressional district located in the eastern portion of the state, gave the official Republican response–one of seemingly hundreds.

What was striking to Egan is just how poorly she seems to represent her own constituents.

Her district, poorer than the west side of the state, with much of the broken-family, broken-promise poverty of white rural America, is in real trouble. But the policy prescriptions of McMorris Rodgers have nothing to offer these people. Through her, you can see what happens when biography trumps substance in politics.

Consider Stevens County, her home, an area about half the size of Connecticut with fewer than 50,000 people. It’s gorgeous country, hard by the Columbia River, but a hard place to make a decent living. The county’s unemployment rate was 30 percent above the national average last year. One in six people live below the poverty level. One in five are on food stamps. And the leading employer is government, providing 3,023 of the 9,580 nonfarm payroll jobs last year.

Given that picture, it would seem surprising that McMorris Rodgers voted to drastically cut food aid last year, and joined her party in resisting emergency benefits to the unemployed. She has been a leading strategist in the unrelenting Republican attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act.

And yet, in her district, people are flocking to Obamacare — well beyond the national average. Though she has been screening town hall meetings to highlight only critics of the new law, her constituents are doing something entirely different in making their personal health decisions.

In Spokane County, the most populous in the Fifth Congressional District with nearly half a million people, the rate of participation in the new health care law is even well above the state average. At the end of December, signups were 102 percent of the state target. That’s saying something, because Washington, with a big range of insurance choices and a well-run exchange, has been one of the nation’s success stories for the Affordable Care Act.

In her rebuttal speech, McMorris Rodgers told the story of “Bette,” who had written McMorris Rodgers a letter stating that she had “hoped the president’s healthcare law would save her money – but found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month.” Proof, according to Rodgers, that “this law is not working.”

It didn’t take long for reporters to track down “Bette,” who is Bette Grenier of Spokane. As with pretty much every other ObamaCare horror story proffered by Republicans, Grenier’s tale of woe didn’t exactly hold up to scrutiny. She could have found less costly alternative plans had she tried, but she admitted that she refused to even consider looking at the exchanges, saying, “I wouldn’t go on that Obama website at all.” And who has demonized the exchanges and encouraged their constituents to avoid them at all costs, even if it means going without health insurance, as Grenier has? Republican representatives such as Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Grenier did write a letter to McMorris Rogers’ office describing her situation and asking for help. Did McMorris Rodgers encourage her to explore all of her options, including the state-run Washington insurance exchange? Of course not.

In his editorial, Ryan goes on to say:

What doesn’t make sense is how McMorris Rodgers is so full of animus toward the leading employer of her county, government. Yes, she protects the Air Force base here, as if it’s not really government, and payments to wealthy wheat farmers. But every other form of federal outlay is demonized.

It gets stranger still when looking at her career. On Tuesday night, she proudly mentioned working in an orchard and a fruit stand as a girl. But since then, she has spent most her adult life in — you guessed it — government. She’s been on a state or federal payroll since graduating from Pensacola Christian College, in the early 1990s.

I always find it odd how conservatives can be so anti-government and yet depend on the taxpayers for their paycheck (and their health care) throughout their lives. I remember talking to a conservative friend who worked for government from the time he left high school until the day he retired. Every time I saw him, he regaled me about the fantastic work his department was doing, how it out-performed his private sector counterparts. Then one day he told me that all government workers are essentially worthless. I replied that I knew of at least one case in which that wasn’t true. He asked who I could be talking about, as though he couldn’t conceive of such a thing. When I explained that it was him, he paused and admitted, “You got me, you’re right.” He also subscribed to the old Ronald Reagan maxim, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” I asked him how, if he felt that way, he could work for such an organization for his entire adult life? Needless to say, I didn’t get much of an answer because, truth be told, he was quite proud of what he did in government. His strongly held conservative, anti-government politics were immune to his own personal experience working in government.

Ryan points out that in her speech, McMorris Rogers offered virtually nothing of substance. McMorris Rogers mentioned that Republicans have “plans,” but she didn’t bother to describe any. Rather, like Republicans are wont to do these days, she fell back upon bumper sticker slogans. Ryan concludes by writing:

Reducing dependence and giving people a way to step up the class ladder are fine goals. And no doubt, broken families and single parents — as the Republican Party has long pointed out — keep many people in poverty. But one way to strengthen families is to help them with the kind of medical debt that forces people onto food stamps or prompts a woman to work two jobs, with no time for her kids.

The reason that large numbers of people here in the home district of Cathy McMorris Rodgers are signing up for the first chance in their lives to get affordable, or even free, health care is because they know something their member of Congress doesn’t. The girl who once picked apples in Kettle Falls can’t see what they see, because she’s committed to a party that won’t allow it.


Posted by on February 1, 2014 in Current Events, Health Care, Politics


Tags: , , ,

19 responses to “So Who Does Cathy McMorris Rodgers Represent, Anyway?

  1. Cluster

    February 2, 2014 at 6:31 am

    AAAANNNNNDD the disconnect continues. Speaking of someone who is out of touch with his constituency, we need to look no further than President Obama:

    And his incompetence has a lot more negative impacts than some Washington Representative. Unfavorable ratings on Obamacare, handling of the economy and direction of the country are in the double digits, and some of them are well into double digits. I will remind all of you that we are entering the 6th year of the Obama economy which promised a growing middle class, an improving infrastructure, shovel ready jobs and where everyone would get a “fair shake and a fair shot”. I think it’s fair to say that this vision and plans have been a colossal failure. Even the writer admitted that within the subject country, one in six are in poverty, one in five are on food stamps and the unemployment rate is 30% above the national average. That sure sounds to me like our national leadership has failed, pure and simple, so arguing about real or perceived savings over a chaotic health care system is mind numbingly stupid and the vast majority of Americans get that. So far, Obamacare has created a net negative – meaning more people have lost insurance than have acquired it, and even the uninsured view the ACA negatively in a recent Kaiser poll:

    And this year, we will feel the full effects of the employer mandate (watch out Watson). On another comical note – this is the fourth consecutive Sunday that MSNBC has had wall to wall Christie coverage. And speaking of bumper sticker slogans, I will leave you with the following:

    I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth

    Go Broncos!

    • rustybrown2012

      February 2, 2014 at 8:38 am


      It’s disingenuous to keep pretending that negative polls belong only to Democrats. In case you haven’t heard, polls are a pox on both parties these days with Republicans usually faring worse:

      If Obama cured cancer, you’d fault him for putting oncologists out of work. The fact is this nation is much better off now than we were when Obama took office. Do you yearn for those days when we were on the brink of a depression and America was losing 700,000 jobs a month? That was the state of the union after eight years of your guy. But go ahead and keep rooting for this country to fail; it’s a strange and bitter hobby if you ask me.

      Go Seahawks!

      • rustybrown2012

        February 2, 2014 at 10:03 am

        BTW, anyone know who the first one was to use the “if Obama cured cancer, you’d fault him for putting oncologists out of work.” line?

      • mitchethekid

        February 2, 2014 at 10:56 am

        It was me. The one armed man.

      • watsonthethird

        February 2, 2014 at 10:48 am

        Rusty, Cluster tells us he’s left the Republican party. I guess that makes him the opposite of a RINO. He’s a Republican without its name. A WHINO. (I’m still struggling with the acronym. lol)

      • Cluster

        February 2, 2014 at 1:34 pm

        I have definitely been accused of being a wino before, but never a whino.

      • rustybrown2012

        February 2, 2014 at 11:07 am

      • rustybrown2012

        February 2, 2014 at 11:09 am


        LOL! I like WHINO! Independent in name only? IINO?

      • watsonthethird

        February 2, 2014 at 11:13 am

        WHining Independent In Name Only. WHIINO. 🙂

      • rustybrown2012

        February 2, 2014 at 11:19 am

        That’s it! With his new acronym maybe his theme of “Democrats are stupid because they have a clear frontrunner in the next Presidential election, and it’s because of her vagina!” will take hold.

    • watsonthethird

      February 2, 2014 at 10:46 am

      AAAANNNNNDD the deflection continues. Yes, Cluster, the writer pointed out that McMorris Rodgers’ district is faring poorly economically. And McMorris Rodgers doesn’t care. That’s the point. But deflect away. It’s what we expect from you. Oh, that and poorly crafted jokes that no one realizes are jokes.

    • watsonthethird

      February 2, 2014 at 11:25 am

      On another comical note – this is the fourth consecutive Sunday that MSNBC has had wall to wall Christie coverage.

      Yes, Cluster, Christie is the gift that just keeps on giving, isn’t he? I mean, did you read his comical rant about David Wildstein yesterday?

      • Cluster

        February 3, 2014 at 5:17 am

        MSNBC again this morning continues their wall to wall Christie coverage and simply won’t leave a traffic cone unturned. They certainly have their finger on the pulse of what Americans care about. What a phenomenal “news” organization. At this rate, I think the comedy channel passes them up this year.

      • mitchethekid

        February 3, 2014 at 7:45 am

        What’s different between Fox News beating a stable of dead horses and MSNBC talking about the sad trajectory of the once presumptative conservative front runner for the 2016 election?
        Especially if it turns out not to be in Christie’s favor. If he’s lying, his career is over. If he isn’t and was so willing to throw once trusted aides under the bus his character is exposed and his career is over. Either way, it’s not good news for Christie. The risk that MSNBC runs is that they to beat dead horses. And did any of you see the Sopranos spoof ad about the GWB?
        I think Americans care if a governor shuts down a hugely important bridge out of pure spite. I think Americans care if he’s lying about it. The subpoena’s and resignations aren’t for nothing. The same people who are downplaying this are the same people who scream impeachment every time the President takes a breath. And when that doesn’t work, they want to investigate the investigators. There’s gotta be a pony in here somewhere.

      • mitchethekid

        February 3, 2014 at 7:54 am

  2. Cluster

    February 2, 2014 at 6:41 am

    However, I am not sure if you can become more disconnected than NYT columnist Frank Rich who claimed that Fox News is dead, and only liberals keep it alive:

    You have been upstaged Watson.

    • mitchethekid

      February 2, 2014 at 8:36 am

      NY Magazine. He quit the Times a while back.

  3. mitchethekid

    February 2, 2014 at 8:39 am

    She reminded me of Betty Bowers. The Stepford look of catatonia complete with a frozen manikin smile.

    • rustybrown2012

      February 2, 2014 at 8:47 am

      I was creeped out by how she talked as if she were addressing a classroom of slow children. I guess she was speaking to the Republican base!

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