Monday, December 21, 2009

DemCare Lurches Forward Again

So, why did Dem. Senator Ben Nelson cave, and why was it so odious?  Let's set the stage a bit:

On Thursday, Sen. Ben Nelson told a Nebraska radio station that the tax increases in the Senate health care bill were "not acceptable," especially given the economic climate.

Here was what Nelson had to say when asked about tax increases in the bill just two days ago (you can listen here, around the 9 minute mark):

"The problem with the legislation is, it is complex, and it is further complicated by tax increases as a means of funding extending coverage, to people who currently have it. There is no free ride here. If you're going to extend coverage, obviously, there has to be some mechanism to raise the money. The way in which money is raised is not acceptable. If there isn't a way to raise the money in tight times, I think you have to look at a scaled back version."

The problem is that the final outcome that Nelson ended up supporting includes major tax increases, including on new taxes on things like indoor tanning salons.  What gives, Senator?  Oh, I see, you've been bought:

Nebraska will receive $100 million in assistance for its state Medicaid program under provisions negotiated by Sen. Ben Nelson (D) in the Senate's healthcare reform bill.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) informed lawmakers on Sunday night that the section of the manager's amendment to the Senate's health bill would cost $1.2 billion over 10 years.

Nelson managed to win a share of the section of the manager's amendment on Equitable Support for Certain States, which will provide Nebraska, along with Massachusetts and Vermont, support in paying its share of additional costs to Medicaid in the health legislation.

Nelson is already experiencing a stiff backlash from his home state, including the Governor.  His re-election bid is in 2012, so it'll be interesting to see how that plays out.

Michelle Malkin reports on the aptly named Cash for Cloture deals that bought Harry Reid his 60 votes.  Here's a top-level summary - hit the link for details:

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell alluded to all this backroom dealing on the floor early this morning before the cloture vote, but lamely refused to name names on the Senate floor.

Screw Senate collegiality. Let the sun shine in.

1. Sen. Ben Nelson's "Cornhusker Kickback." The CBO says the Nebraska Democrat sellout's special Medicaid expansion subsidy will initially cost an estimated $100 million.

2. New England's Special Syrup. Vermont and Massachusetts will get similar (though less generous) special treatment by the feds in covering Medicaid expansion costs. Combined with Nebraska's tab, the exclusive clique's payoffs will cost taxpayers $1.2 billion over 10 years. At least.

3. Corruptocrat Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd's Christmas wish: Hospital helper. He's plunging in the polls and in need of a little bacon to bring home.

A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who faces a difficult re-election campaign, his office said Sunday night. The legislation leaves it up to the Health and Human Services Department to decide where the money should be spent, although spokesman Bryan DeAngelis said Dodd hopes to claim it for the University of Connecticut.

4. "Some insurers are more equal than others" tax exemption. The WSJ reports that nonprofit insurance companies will be exempt from a new, nearly $7 billion tax to pay for Demcare. Democrat Sens. Ben "Blank Check" Nelson and Carl Levin of Michigan pushed hard for the tax exemption, which will exempt insurers in their states.

5. The Frontier freebie. Several lucky states will see an increase in Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors, the NYT reports, — "where at least 50 percent of the counties are 'frontier counties,' defined as those having a population density less than six people per square mile. And which are the lucky states? The bill gives no clue. But the Congressional Budget Office has determined that Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming meet the criteria."

6. More Democrat hospital bennies. Also via NYT: "Another provision of the bill would increase Medicare payments to certain "low-volume hospitals" treating limited numbers of Medicare patients. Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the Senate health committee, said this 'important fix' would help midsize Iowa hospitals in Grinnell, Keokuk and Spirit Lake. Another item in Mr. Reid's package specifies the data that Medicare officials should use in adjusting payments to hospitals to reflect local wage levels. The officials can use certain new data only if it produces a higher index and therefore higher Medicare payments for these hospitals. Senate Democrats said this provision would benefit hospitals in Connecticut and Michigan."

7. Bernie Sanders' socialized medicine sop. He wanted a public option. Instead, he got socialized medicine satellite clinics funded to the tune of at least $10 billion. In his remarks early this morning before the cloture vote, he gloated about the funding as a crucial step toward universal care.

8. Fla.-Pa.-NY Protectionism. Via Politico: "Three states – Pennsylvania, New York and Florida – all won protections for their Medicare Advantage beneficiaries at a time when the program is facing cuts nationwide."

And these are just the ones we know about.  Remember, this bill is well over 2,000 pages, and Reid put out a new version just a couple days ago.

In the process of the brief debate, we saw the usual slanderous attacks from Democrats, calling anyone who opposes DemCare Nazis and so on -- never mind that they're insulting a significant majority of the nation (55-60%, depending on the poll) by doing that -- and some fairly decent comebacks from the GOP.  But, it all played out as expected, with every Democrat either falling dutifully in line on their own or by being bought off.  If there's one thing you can trust an elected Democrat to do, it is to cave or be bought off.  That's on top of raising taxes and rampant spending, of course.  You can count on them for that, too.

Another thing that really puts the lie to the notion of 'pro-life' Democrats (like Nelson), or perhaps just their ability/willingness to stand on moral principles is that
the new bill will still require that monthly abortion fee from you, the American taxpayer.  Nice work, guys, you really showed America how it's done.

After taking a whole lot of heat from the Right, some credit must be given to RINO Senators Snowe and Collins, who both voted against DemCare this time around.  This at least prevents Obama and the Dems from using the word 'bipartisan' and forces the Democrat party to accept 100% ownership of this debacle, so that will certainly help in the next couple of elections as Americans begin paying higher taxes while seeing only declining services.  Of course, Snowe could have killed the Senate bill outright several weeks ago and did not, so giving her credit for this particular vote is kind of like giving someone credit for vomiting on the hardwood floor rather than vomiting on the Berber carpet - slightly more forgivable, but in the end it's still a tremendously nasty mess that someone is going to have to clean up.

More to come.

There's my two cents.

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