Monday, December 14, 2009

What Deal?, Senate Passes the Minibus

The Health Care Deal That Never Was
I must admit I'm baffled. Senator Harry Reid announces a deal between liberals and moderates on the public option. This weekend the house of cards came crashing down as Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) expressed reservation, as did Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) expressed unequivocal outright opposition. All of which begs the question -- how could a deal be struck between liberals and moderates without these three in the room? Just exactly what the heck is going on here?

Liberals are reportedly furious at Lieberman for basically completely ruling out the Medicare buy-in compromise, even in advance of the CBO cost estimate. But should they really be surprised? Lieberman has been outspoken in his opposition to a public option from the get-go, so if he wasn't a part of the deal-making, they have no one the blame but themselves.

Yes, Lieberman is a hypocrite. He campaigned on the public option in 2000 and supported it on camera as recently as 2006. Yes, he is looking like a bit of a narcissist these days as he frequently grabs media attention and conservative love as he lurches to the right (endorsing John McCain, praising Sarah Palin, for war in Iraq and the surge, against the public option), as well as ocassional liberal deal-brokering (the stimulus plan.) But he is hardly an unknown commodity at this point.

Can the Dem's still get a deal? Looks like not with the public option in. This means access but no real mechanism for cost containment. We'll get more people insured, but we'll be having this debate again in a few years when the whole thing is all to unaffordable...just like the much more expensive perscription drug plan (oh wait, we don't talk about that cost.)

$800 billion? Socialism! $600 billion -- That's Just the Biz
Politics are a funny thing. The Senate quietly busted through an attempted GOP filibuster and passed the Minibus spending package on Sunday, the same bill passed by the house last week. It is a $600 billion bill that has thousands of earmarks and that I doubt anyone in congress has actually read (given that it was just written late last week!) So...we can get this pork-laden minibus done in a few days, but health care, a bill of a similar size, but spread over 10 years, instead of 1, we can't get done in 11 months? Heck, the stimulus bill spends more in 3 years than health care will cost in 10. The perscription drug plan passed by a GOP congress costs almost twice as much.

I guess some things just become lightning rods. Back to funding that honey bee research.

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