And here we go, live-blogging the debate in the Senate today about whether to debate. Yes, this all-day rare Saturday session is for the vote tonight at 8 on whether or not to bring Obamacare up for formal debate.
Senator Cantewell is up now, taking Landrieu's spot. Landrieu is up soon, supposedly.
Update 11:40: Senator Cantwell seems to think that since Medicare and Medicaid are going broke, we should make it even worse by adding more people to it. She says we spend too much money on unnecessary tests. Yeah, we're seeing that week how that's going to work - fewer mammograms and cervical cancer screenings. NOT a good plan.
Update 11:45: Landrieu is up. She begins with praise for Harry Reid, Cantwell, and Blanche Lincoln. Blather.
"I have been in meetings with economists" and constituents for two days, she says. She says this bill is "the best work of the Senate to date" on the subject. She's voting to "move forward" with the vote. She says "it should not be construed as to how I might vote as this debate comes to an end. It is a debate to move forward...with the important work underway." She says she has conducted a thorough review of the bill, concluded that we should move forward, but that much more work needs to be done.
Landrieu says "Doing nothing is not an option. Nor is waiting any longer for this debate to come to an end."
Nobody is suggesting doing nothing - someone should tell her that.
Phillip Klein's write up of Landrieu's remarks are here.
Update 11:50: Still with Landrieu. She says "I'm going to stay focused like a laser" on bringing down costs. She expresses concern for small business owners. Does she know that small business doesn't support this bill?
Addressing what encouraged her to move forward, she says this bill prevents insurance companies from raising rates on people that get sick. She doesn't mention the $100 million payoff and how that encouraged her to move forward.
Update 12:00: Advocates a trigger option if private market reforms fail to work. Keyword there - FAIL.
Update 12:05: Addressing "very partisan Republican bloggers" now. She's addressing the payoff. She says in 2005 Louisiana experienced two of the worst national disasters in recent memory. Says Louisiana's per capita income was permanently inflated as a result of aid received and "as a result it made us seem as if we were CT" and not LA. It made Louisiana seem as if we had become rich overnight; "our state is still as poor as it ever was." Landrieu says she is not going to be defensive about asking for help in this matter and, for the record, it's not a $100 million fix, it's a $300 million fix. She says and "I'm proud of asking for it and for receiving it. It's not why I'm moving forward to debate."
Unicorns for everyone.
Update 1:10: I took a break after Landrieu to make the roux for my gumbo. And now it's Al Franken? Oh dear god. I'm going back to the hot oil for a few minutes. I'll be back when he's gone.
Update 1:20: Blanche Lincoln is now on the floor. Says America can achieve unprecedented health care reform. You got that right.
She says small businesses and working families are reaching the breaking point because of rising health care costs. Taxpayers are already bearing the cost of treatment for the uninsured, she says. She says only one insurance company in her state of Arkansas controls over half the insurance market. Wouldn't that make the case for selling insurance across state lines?
Update 1:26: Lincoln says she's not worried about re-election. It's a good thing. 64% of Arkansans are against the bill. She says she doesn't support the public plan and that it could lead to future bailouts. She supports reform that "changes the rules" of the private insurance system. Insurance companies should not be able to "cherry-pick" healthy patients. She wants to limit subsidies to insurance companies. Insurance executives should not receive excess tax breaks or personal windfalls.
In other words, profits are bad.
She's voting yes.
Update 1:35: Lincoln says she won't vote for a final bill with a public option. She also points to the huge growth of government "since the year 2000." How about since January 2009?"
Update 1:45: Taking a short "lacuna" to run do the daily check on mom. NRO's The Corner is keeping up with the Senate - check there, but come back here in about an hour! Gumbo for all.
Update 4:00: I think every Dem must have been given instructions to get up and tell a sad story from your district about someone with a terrible health condition who loses his job and can't get coverage. Bonus points if you mention "donut hole," "AARP," or "Ted Kennedy."
The "yes" vote of Blanche Lincoln seems to seal the yes vote for later. It's worth continuing to listen to see what blather they continue to spew, however. Lincoln was pretty adamant about the public option and so it seems this bill may go through some small changes between now and the actual vote which should occur sometime after the Thanksgiving recess.
I'm all for chasing these Senators down during the recess in their districts and letting them know how you feel. Don't let up.
Update 4:25: John McCain calls the bill a monstrosity and outlines more reasonable approaches such as portability across state lines, tort reform, health care savings accounts and wellness incentives. "Why can't we do that?" he asks. Good question.
Update 4:36: Sen. Hatch has numbers: 70 new programs in this bill. 1,697 times the HHS is given decision making powers. Number of times tort reform is mentioned? Zero. Number of provisions prohibiting rationing? Zero. Number of government run programs which are financially sound over time? Zero. $465 billion dollars in cuts to Medicare. $2.5 trillion is the cost of this bill over ten years. $12 trillion is our total national debt.
Update 4:45: McCain again. He slams the reward to Louisiana. Again slams the issue of no malpractice reform in the bill. Lamar Alexander supports the case for tort reform. Says they should "re-earn the trust of the American people" by working on tort reform. McCain then goes back to the mammogram recommendations; Sen. Barrasso says his wife would have died without a mammogram in her 40s. "It was a screening mammogram that saved her life...she is a survivor, six years later."
Barasso points to page 1150 which talks about the "preventive task force" which makes the recommendations. Page 1189-1190 talks about the preventative task force, says Senator Kyl. The task force makes the recommendations and the secretary of HHS can deny payment based on that. The Secretary of HHS may "modify coverage" based on the reccomendations of the task force, and they may also provide that "no payment may be made for preventative service performed" that has not been approved. That's rationing, says Kyl.
Update 4:55: Sen. Risch: "Americans are frightened, and they should be, that health care rationing is coming to America if this bill is passed."
Update 5:35: I took another "lacuna" to eat some gumbo and watch LSU try to give the game away. Now Chuck Grassley is on the floor who says this bill "is worse than doing nothing." It imposes half a trillion dollars in new fees and taxes, he says, which is worse than doing nothing. It will hurt small business and destroy job creation; in addition, it breaks Obama's campaign promise to not raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year.
Update 5:55: Sen. Enzi: "America is facing the worst crisis since the Great Depression..."...cites jobless and unemployment numbers and wonders why under this situation we're dealing with heath care, now. He says "this bill introduces a massive government intrusion into the health care of every American." He says "This bill gets it wrong." The majority leader, without Republican support and without the support of the majority of the American people, is trying to "jam through" a partisan bill.
Update 6:20: Enzi wraps up and Max Baucus comes up. *sighs*. Time for an Octoberfest. Anybody still here? The vote is coming up before long. No real suspense there,but you never know.
Update 6:30: Senator McConnell now. Very somber. "This bill costs 2.5 trillion dollars that America does not have and cannot afford. It imposes punishing taxes on almost everyone. It raises health insurance premiums on the 85%of Americans who already have health insurance. ...A vote in favor of proceeding with this bill is a vote in favor of adding to the tax burden of the American people in the midst of huge unemployment...it is a vote in favor of deep cuts to Medicare for tens of millions of seniors who depend on it...it is a vote to continue the out of control spending binge Congress has been on all year. "
"If there was one Democrat, just one...who would say no tonight, none of this would happen. The voices of the American people would be heard. We've all seen the surveys; we know how they feel."
"Then we could start over with a common sense, step by step approach..."
Update 6:40: Still with McConnell. "We've heard some Senators come to the floor today and say they oppose this bill but they don't want to stop the debate...nobody is suggesting we stop the debate...but if we don't stop this bill tonight the only debate we'll be having is about higher premiums, not saving for the American people, higher taxes...cuts to Medicare...that's what the debate will be about."
"What we want to do is change the debate. Not end it. Change it. Because once we get on this bill the basic dimensions will not change."
"Why should we consider a bill we already know the American people oppose?"
Update 6:45: McConnell: "After tonight's vote we'll all go home and face our constituents. We'll have to tell them how we voted on raising their premiums, raising their taxes, and cutting their Medicare. For some of us that won't be a very easy conversation. But it doesn't have to be that way....we can work together step by step and create the common sense reforms that the American people have been asking for all along."
The American people "are hoping we say NO to this bill."
"All it would take...is just one member from the other side of the aisle to give us an opportunity, not to end the debate, but to change the debate in the direction the American people want us to go."
and now Harry Reid who gets up and calls McConnell a liar. Scum.
Update 6:47: Oh bless me. I can't take Harry Reid. Smarmy is the word that comes to mind. Is that a real word? It should be. Okay so King Harry says this bill will afford every American the opportunity to live a healthy life. Thank goodness because we've never done that before without Congress telling us to.
Harry invites you to join "the right side of history."
And via Twitter - Senator Byrd has just arrived at the Capitol.
Update 6:50: Harry points out that tonight's vote is not the end of the debate but just the beginning. It's not the final bill "as any high school civics textbook will tell you."
Reid wraps up ... "Our country deserves this debate. Our country needs this debate."
Update 6:54: Reid, "I would ask that we start the vote five minutes early and act as if it started at 8:00. " Clerk reporting motion for cloture. The vote will begin.
Final Update: And ... we are one step closer to socialized medicine, heath care rationing, and crippling taxes and job loss. 60 to 39.
Don't give up. Don't quit fighting.
(More at Memeorandum)