Sunday, December 20, 2009

It is done.

They did it.

It came down to a vote straight along party lines: 60-40 (which further underscores the importance of every political race – big and small; it also shows how important - and long – President Barack Obama’s coattails were in the last election). In short, we are now on the road to Nationalized Health Care.

According to the New York Times, “The vote was 60 to 40 — a tally that is expected to be repeated four times as further procedural hurdles are cleared in the days ahead, and then once more in a dramatic, if predictable, finale tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.”

The battle raged in the nation’s Capitol as forces of light and darkness worked far into the night on the most significant health care/insurance reform bill to ever make its way through Congress.

Burning the midnight oil...

Just months ago, Republicans swore that this would be Obama’s Waterloo. Now, with the weather outside the Capitol building cold and snowy and the GOP in the Capitol but unable to do anything with it, it seems more like the Republicans’ own version of the French invasion of Russia of 1812.

Napoleon couldn't do anything in another important capitol, either...

It was all made possible because Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) threw in with his fellow Dems, promising his filibuster-breaking vote in exchange for some big money for his state. According the Washington Post: ‘Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax. He also was able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.” (h/

“Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) declared, ‘This process is not legislation. This process is corruption,’ referring to the last-minute flurry of dealmaking that enabled Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the White House to lock in the 60 votes needed to approve the legislation.”(h/

The man of the moment: Ben Nelson...

This, of course, means an Obama signing party in the not-too-distant future as well as a host of additional questions and/or problems. Some things to consider:

Be careful what you wish for, pt. 1: “Poor Barack Obama. All he wanted for Christmas was a health-care reform bill -- and all he got was a lousy insurance industry bailout that few can love.”

Be careful what you wish for, pt. 2: Is the Democrats’ likely “paper-thin” margin of victory actually a Pyrrhic victory? (And the conservative pundits aren’t the only ones who feel this way.) Plenty of “progressives” are hopping mad about the final version and blame Obama for it. Over at Newsweek, Robert Samuelson goes so far to say, “Barack Obama's quest for historic health care legislation has turned into a parody of leadership.”


“According to the American Medical Association’s National Health Insurer Report Card for 2008, the government’s health plan, Medicare, denied medical claims at nearly double the average for private insurers.”

Nelson wasn’t the only one who was bought-off. That old, principled socialist from Vermont – Sen. Bernie Sanders – got a payout, too. He didn’t get the Single Payer system he dreamed of but he did get some other favors.

Megan McArdle points out in her blog over at The Atlantic: “No bill this large has ever before passed on a straight party-line vote, or even anything close to a straight party-line vote. No bill this unpopular has ever before passed on a straight party-line vote. We're in a new political world.”

As is true in many legislative efforts, there’s a lot of back scratching going on in D.C. right now. Votes are being traded for favors…and the favors are many.

If it really is a win, then who loses? (The GOP is hoping this bill is the straw that breaks the senior senator from Nevada’s back. Even his hometown paper is poking at him.)

Add Nelson: Some big names in Nebraska are none too pleased.

Well if Joe says so: According to the most well-spoken Vice President since Dan Quayle, the health care, er, insurance reform bill is something that “represents the culmination of a struggle begun by Theodore Roosevelt nearly a century ago to make health care reform a reality.” Forgive me if I’m being nit-picky here, but I thought I heard the president back in his speech a few months ago say the effort started about 50-plus years ago. I’ve heard everyone from Harry Truman (Dems, of course) credited with trying to move this effort along.

Ending on a bit of “rosy” news from Reuters: “Revised Senate health bill cuts deficit: CBO: The revised healthcare overhaul in the Senate would cut the federal deficit by $132 billion over 10 years, non-partisan budget analysts said on Saturday. The Congressional Budget Office also said the bill as revised by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid would have coverage costs of $871 billion over 10 years. Both figures meet President Barack Obama's goal of cutting the deficit and having a total cost of about $900 billion over 10 years. The rosy report card could help the proposal gain support.” Only that much? What terrific news! Just remember to stay well.

What hath Reid wrought?

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