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Senate health battle leaves institution bruised and battered

Posted Dec 22 2009 12:00am

Well, the Senate has not seen this much rancor since the 1850’s – and we know where that all ended up.  The reality is not that 100 members of the senate do not agree on the need for health insurance reform or health reform in general, but that that there are polar opposite views of how this should be accomplished.  This difference is reflective of the breakdown of the populace into two opposing camps over the role of centralized federal government, with it’s entrenched bureaucracy, special interests and unlimited power to enact confiscatory taxes on the populace.  One camp seeks expansion of the federal role in everyday life as well as expansion of the welfare state while the other camp seeks greater autonomy for the states and limits on federal power and federal taxation.  Sound familiar.  Check your history books.  This debate is as old as the Republic itself.  The main concern is that now that we have the majority of citizens (and illegals) paying no income tax, the desire to raise taxes on the minority is becoming insatiable in an effort to fund ever more ambition and far reaching programs to “take care of” those with less.  This then is the fundamental impasse.  This along with the unwillingness of both sides to tackle head on regulation of the health insurance industry as opposed to working toward federal control or no control.

The other sad note in all of this is the transparent and obvious vote buying that is going on.  We have commented on this before.  If any private citizen paid members of the Senate in cash or kind, it would be called bribery.  It seems however when the Majority Leader, Mr. Reid, with approval of the President does the same thing, but with taxpayer dollars, it is called compromise and savvy legislating.  Semantics cannot hide the seedy reality of this type of back room wheeling and dealing with other peoples money – the taxpayers  money.  Since Mr. Reid and his Senate cronies are already feeding at the public trough, it is doubly sad that they are using taxpayer money to “persuade” their erstwhile Democratic colleagues to vote in a manner they wish.

Overlooked in all of this is the fact neither conservatives or liberals are happy with the outcome so far.  Some would argue that this means the legislation is good, making all sides unhappy.  We however would argue that this represents the fundamental flaws in the bills in the House and Senate.  Most worrisome is that neither bill definitively bans private insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions without any caveats.  It also does not definitively ban, in plain language, the dropping of subscribers who become ill. Oh, it says that more or less on both counts, until you get into the detail and legalese and find what appears to be ample wiggle room for health insurers to weasel out on these two most fundamental reforms.  There is also no real attempt to control health insurance premiums or to modify the underwriting formulas used by health insurers.  All glaring flaws.

No doubt, something is coming out of the Senate.  That means we will refocus on the two bill and what might be accomplished in conference committee to salvage real health reform . . . obi jo and jomaxx

Nasty charges of bribery. Senators cut off midspeech. Accusations of politics put over patriotism. Talk of double-crosses. A nonagenarian forced to the floor after midnight for multiple procedural votes. In the heart of the holiday season, Senate Republicans and Democrats are at one another’s throats as the health care overhaul reaches its climactic votes. A year that began with hopes of new post-partisanship has indeed produced change: Things have gotten worse.

Senate Debate on Health Care Exacerbates Partisanship –

In the great health care debate of 2009, President Obama has cast himself as a cold-eyed pragmatist, willing to compromise in exchange for votes. Now ideology — an uprising on the Democratic left — is smacking the pragmatic president in the face. Stung by the intense White House effort to court the votes of moderate holdouts like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, liberals are signaling that they have compromised enough. Grass-roots groups are balking, liberal commentators are becoming more critical of the president, some unions are threatening to withhold support and Howard Dean, the former Democratic Party chief, is urging the Senate to kill its health bill.

Liberal Revolt on Health Care Stings White House –

Senate Democrats said Saturday that they had clinched an agreement on a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health care system and forged ahead with efforts to approve the legislation by Christmas over Republican opposition. As the Senate convened in a blizzard, Democratic leaders hailed a breakthrough that came when Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, agreed to back the bill after 13 hours of negotiations on Friday, making him the pivotal 60th vote for a measure that President Obama has called his top domestic priority. Mr. Nelson committed his vote after winning tighter restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions, as well as increased federal health care aid for his state.

Democrats Clinch Deal for Deciding Vote on Health Bill –

Thirty million people without health insurance stand to gain coverage under a deal announced on Saturday by Senate Democrats. To get the 60 votes needed to pass their bill, Democrats scrapped the idea of a government-run public insurance plan, cherished by liberals, and replaced it with a proposal for nationwide health plans, which would be offered by private insurers under contract with the government. The legislation also includes a proposal that would limit insurance coverage of abortion. The provision, which was the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place, was negotiated by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, to win the support of Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, who is an opponent of abortion.

Negotiating to 60 Votes, Compromise by Compromise –

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, one of three lawmakers being wooed by Democratic leaders to back health-care legislation, won the inclusion of an extra $100 million in federal aid for low-income people in her state. Landrieu, a Democrat, has championed federal aid for rebuilding Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area in 2005.  “It is something she has been working on for a long time,” spokesman Robert Sawicki said of the aid, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated at $100 million. Still, he said, Landrieu hasn’t decided whether to back Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid’s bid to start debate on the bill. Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, declined to comment.

Mary Landrieu Wooed To Back Health Care With $100 Million For Her State –

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