Monday, December 21, 2009

Cash for cloture for the Senate health care bill

By now, most of you probably know that in the wee hours of this morning the Senate passed a cloture vote on Reid's secret health care plan which means it is headed for Christmas Eve passage.  What you may not know is just how many special provisions have been jammed into the bill in order to purchase the votes required for its passage and resurrect the withering reelection prospects of certain of its supporters.

Where to begin?

Let's go in reverse chronological order starting with Chris Dodd from Connecticut.  From the Washington Post:
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.
Ben Nelson sold his vote and his soul for federal coverage of Nebraska's new Medicaid patients, and tried to blame it on the governor.  Michael O'Brien at The Hill describes it thus:
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. (emphasis mine) [snip}
Nelson defended the provision during an appearance on CNN on Sunday, saying he was simply seeking to work with Nebraska's governor and fellow senators to secure fair treatment.

"Well, you know, look, I didn't ask for a special favor here. I didn't ask for a carve-out," Nelson said. "What I said is the governor of Nebraska has contacted me, he said publicly he's having trouble with the budget. This will add to his budget woes. And I said, look, we have to have that fixed."

Nebraska's governor, Dave Heineman, a Republican, rejected that characterization.

"Nebraskans did not ask for a special deal, only a fair deal. Under no circumstances did I have anything to do with Sen. Nelson’s compromise," he said. "Sen. Nelson negotiated this special deal, rather than a fair deal for both Nebraska and America. The responsibility for this special deal lies solely on the shoulders of Sen. Ben Nelson.”
Equitable Support for Certain States?  You can't make this stuff up.

Moving right along.  Remember Mary Landrieu's $100 million, I mean $300 million dollar sweetheart deal that secured her aye vote? Dana Milbank at the Washington Post wrote this last month:
On the eve of Saturday's showdown in the Senate over health-care reform, Democratic leaders still hadn't secured the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of the 60 votes needed to keep the legislation alive. The wavering lawmaker was offered a sweetener: at least $100 million in extra federal money for her home state.

And so it came to pass that Landrieu walked onto the Senate floor midafternoon Saturday to announce her aye vote -- and to trumpet the financial "fix" she had arranged for Louisiana. "I am not going to be defensive," she declared. "And it's not a $100 million fix. It's a $300 million fix.
In October, in my very first blog post, I questioned the constitutionality of providing special Medicaid financing to Harry Reid's state of Nevada and three other states, as proposed in the Baucus bill.  It seems like an eternity since we were talking about the Baucus bill, and the special privileges accorded those states then, pale in comparison to all the bribes and payoffs that will be in the final bill that will pass on Thursday.

Michelle Malkin has a comprehensive wrap-up of the "Demcare Bribe List" here.

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