Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) addressed an intimate group of Netroots activists during their annual Netroots Nation gathering in Pittsburgh this weekend. Mr. Massa reiterated his support for a single-payer health care bill. He discussed the risks he takes for wanting to support such a measure in his “right-wing Republican district.”
According to Swing State Project, Mr. Massa won his 2008 race by 2 percentage points. The district’s voting pattern index (PVI) is a Republican +5 seat. The National Republican Congressional Committee has the upstate New York congressman in their sights for 2010 along with 69 other House Democrats as reported by Politico. The transcript is below, and check out the corresponding video above.
MASSA: I’m not going to vote for 3200 as it’s currently written. Step one, I will vote for a single payer option or a bill that does have a medicare coupled public option, which we don’t have right now. If my town hall meetings turn into the same media frenzies and ridiculousness, because every time that happens we lose. We lose another three million people in America. They see that happening and negate us.
PARTICIPANT: It changes the narrative.
MASSA: Every time that occurs. So what happens in my town hall meetings frankly is important, because I am in one of the most right wing Republican districts in the country, and I’m not asking you guys to go back to wherever and send people to me. This is a generic statement of ‘what can I do?’ Well that’s one thing we can do.
PARTICIPANT: So if we got your meetings to sixty forty, you’d vote…and there was single payer in a bill you would vote for it?
MASSA: Oh absolutely I would vote for single payer.
PARTICIPANT: If there was sixty forty sentiment in the room?
MASSA: Listen, I tell every audience I’m in favor of single payer.
PARTICIPANT: If there was eighty twenty in the room?
MASSA: If there was a single payer bill?
PARTICIPANT: And there was a single payer….
MASSA: I will vote for the single payer bill.
PARTICIPANT: Even if it meant you were being voted out of office?
MASSA: I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I am doing is going to be helpful.
(inaudible participants’ comments regarding the “interests” of the district statement from Mr. Massa)
MASSA: I will vote against their opinion if I actually believe it will help them.
**EDIT UPDATE August 18: Added single quotation marks to transcript where Mr. Massa rhetorically describes others who ask, “what can I do?”
The first participant in the transcript: changed to “It changes the narrative” from “It changes America” as was originally written.