After 25 straight days of "the longest Senate debate in recent history," our senators are now off work until after the first of the year. Meanwhile, the health care bill that we had to hurry up and pass because "people are dying!" sits on a lonely desk somewhere waiting for more changes, revisions, and debate. That won't happen until January, although no doubt the back room deals and bribes are still underway.
The Hill reports this morning that there is "very little wiggle room" in the upcoming talks to merge the two bills. Nearly two dozen "centrist" senators, including Mary Landrieu, who don't favor changing their version of the bill very much. (Although how anyone can call Mary Landrieu a "centrist" escapes me.)
They don't want a "bill that imposes a tax surcharge on the nation’s highest income earners or reduces the tax burden on so-called Cadillac health insurance plans, which are held by many unionized workers." They also don't want a public option included in the final bill.
Landrieu is adamant about keeping that provision that taxes those "Cadillac" plans because she's concerned about cost-containment. If she's so worried about cost-containment, she should refuse her $300 million bribe, but that's beside the point.
Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska says he won't support the bill if it taxes those making over $500,000.
Do either of those two people have any credibility left?
These senators that were bought off, Landrieu, Nelson, and all the others, try to excuse this action by saying that it's just politics; it's done all the time! If you don't understand that, you don't understand politics! Mary Landrieu said, “Those who have dubbed this provision the ‘Louisiana Purchase' know little about lawmaking and even less about my views on health-care reform." Business as usual. Got it.
I'm sure back room deals are, in fact, part of how Washington works and I'm sure it's been that way for a long time. Doesn't make it right. And it especially doesn't excuse passing bad legislation. If you make a back room deal to get something for your state, at least try to be sure the rest of the country isn't getting totally screwed in the meantime.
At any rate, the poor, overworked senators are all back at home (call them!) as are your representatives (call them, too!). They'll mosey on back to Washington in January, all the while patting themselves on the back for their "historic" achievement, and begin the final task of driving the nails into the heart of the American heath care industry and economy.