Monday, November 23, 2009

Just haggling about the price of the Blue Dogs

It's amusing, and somewhat indicative, that when Senator Mary Landrieu was derided for selling her vote in what came to be called the Louisiana Purchase of $100 million dollars, she went to the floor to proudly declare that she had sold herself for $300 million, not a measly $100 million.

As George Bernard Shaw once said, "we've already established what you are, ma'am. Now we're just haggling over the price."

The truly amazing thing about how the Senate works is why anyone would have committed to how they would vote when there was so much money in payoffs circulating around. As WSJ writes, all the so-called Blue Dogs have their price and are just haggling about the deal.
Note that Senator Landrieu's price included no substantive change in the $25 billion in Medicaid burdens that this legislation will impose on other states, or any reduction in its huge new tax burden on Louisiana small businesses, or any change in the rationing commission it will establish for Medicare. Mrs. Landrieu was voting to enable all of those provisions to take one more giant step toward enactment.

Senator Landrieu did also say she will not vote for the bill on final passage unless its provision for a public insurance plan would only be imposed with a "trigger" if certain measures of coverage aren't met. But as long as the architecture of a "public option" is included in the bill, it will be triggered sooner rather than later. The bill's new rules and costs for private insurance are so onerous that the public option is bound to be cheaper. This is why Barney Frank says the public option is a stepping stone to a government-run system, and Henry Waxman says the left will build on any form of public option once it is in place. Mrs. Landrieu is merely reciting her political lines.

Then there is Arkansas's Blanche Lincoln, who is up for re-election next year and is doing her best to sound as if she is both for and against the legislation. "We simply cannot ignore the growth in the federal government since the year 2000. I can assure you that the American people have not ignored it," Mrs. Lincoln declared in her Senate floor speech—moments before she said she would vote to proceed with the biggest expansion of government in living memory.

Voters can expect more such faux drama as the debate proceeds on the Senate floor. Nebraska's Ben Nelson will insist on some compromise on abortion coverage, and the National Right to Life Committee will declare a great victory—never mind the rationing the bill will guarantee for the sick and aged. Evan Bayh of Indiana will fight to reduce taxes on medical devices, even as the overall bill guarantees a far higher tax burden on the entire U.S. economy.
So I don't believe all this mock drama about how these Blue Dogs will vote or how liberals will vote if the public option or abortion language doesn't please them. Harry Reid will find their price and they'll cave.

And we'll be left with living with the mess that they will have made of our health care system and the future debts.