At 7 am on Christmas Eve, the Senate passed its version of health care reform in a party line vote of 60-39 (Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky didn’t vote). The vote was really a foregone conclusion with Sen. Ben Nelson announcing his support for the bill after saying the abortion funding language satisfied him – and after his home state of Nebraska was exempted from paying higher Medicare taxes due to the bill.
Not too much to say about this one. As I’ve said before, the bill remains a bad one, with costs simply being shuffled around instead of being directly addressed, and with many still left uninsured under the plan. Basically, the Senate plan forces (unconstitutionally, in my view) every citizen to purchase health insurance and subsidizes insurance companies to pick them up. The taxes kick in immediately, but the benefits don’t start for another three to four years – a trick that works to get a beneficial CBO score but undercuts the entire notion that the bill had to be passed right away with no moment to spare.
Giddy over their legislative victory, Democrats are seemingly delusional about the opposition to this bill, which every poll has in the majority. Don’t tell that to Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid, though:
“This is a happy day. (Senate Republican Leader) Mitch McConnell said on the floor that we’re going to go home and hear our constituents rail against this bill. I don’t believe that. I believe that the negativity that Leader McConnell and others have continually displayed on the floor has peaked, and now when people learn what’s actually in the bill—and all the good it does—it is going to become more and more popular because it is good for America, good for the American people, and a true symbol of what we can do if we all pull together,” said Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer.
On the floor before the vote, Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “We’re going to hear an earful, but it’s going to be an earful of wonderment and happiness that people waited for a long time.”
An earful of wonderment and happiness … ok, sure, guys. Tell me, if this bill is such a bag of Skittles and sunshine, why did both houses ram it through as quickly as possible, holding key votes in the middle of the night or early in the morning? Why did Reid keep his bill secret until the CBO score came back, and why was all the wrangling done behind closed doors? Why did the final version not become public until only five days ago on Saturday? Never mind, it must have been the sheer awesomeness of the bill that made it necessary to act with such haste and secrecy!
But keep indulging that fantasy that everyone just loves the hell out of this bill, and that the American people look longingly to your wisdom and guidance that only you, as uber-intelligent supermen, can deliver to the unwashed masses. Just like 535 wise parents, you all know so much better than the rest of us what’s good for us.
There are still more hoops to jump through, but this is another victory, to be sure. All of this charade was never about actually reforming health care, but providing a partisan political touchdown and advancing an ideological wish list. It’s not going to change anything for the better except give a political party bragging rights, which is how the whole thing was designed anyway.
Thank God it’s Christmas Eve. The holiday is a welcome distraction to the surreal hijinks going on in our nation’s capital.