A Roll Call article published late last week titled "Tales Of Hoyer's 'Liberal Problem' Are Exaggerated" sought to downplay the conservative views of Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who serves as the House Minority Whip and would likely become the leader of House Democrats if Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA) ever stepped down from her role as Minority Leader.
To do this, it cites applause from many of his more progressive House Democratic colleagues, and also references Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress (CAP). "On every major battle, Hoyer has been in the trenches with progressives," said Tanden.
CAP makes some good contributions to the progressive community -- especially their blog, ThinkProgress. (Disclosure: I once worked there.) But on this matter, it is incorrect.
On many critical issues, Hoyer has simply not stood with progressives. Here are a few examples:
- Abandoning The Public Option: While Hoyer did voice support for the public option during the health care reform debate, he was saying in August of 2009 -- not too long after a New York Times poll was released that showed 72 percent of the country supported a public plan -- that it may have to be jettisoned. Keep in mind that progressives in Congress and their allies around the country were rallying for the public option as late as February 2010 -- but Hoyer and his pro-corporate allies took the wind out of their sails.
- Helping Hide Money In Politics: When President Obama proposed a plan by which he could unilaterally require federal contractors to disclose their political contributions, Hoyer -- whose district is packed with many of these contractors -- attacked the plan, saying that "there are some serious questions as to what implications there are if somehow we consider political contributions in the context of awarding contracts.” Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor soon used Hoyer's statement to his advantage, saying, "Certainly, I am in agreement with the Democratic Whip." The disclosure plan was never put into law.
- Raising The Retirement Age: In 2010, when then-House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) suggested raising the retirement age to 70, Hoyer didn't object. "We could and should consider a higher retirement age," he said.
- Endorsing Job-Killing Free Trade Deals With Human Rights Abusers: Working-class Americans know that NAFTA-style "free trade" deals cost Americans jobs. But Hoyer joined with only 31 other House Democrats to support a free trade agreement with Colombia, the most dangerous place on the planet for union leaders. He also broke with the majority of House Democrats by backing similar trade deals with South Korea and Panama. These trade agreements are expected to cost America hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The record speaks for itself. Hoyer has repeatedly sided with the corporate wing of his party over progressives.