According to news reports, Senate Majority Harry Reid apparently has secured the 60th vote necessary to pass a “health care reform” measure — whatever that measure may be. It is difficult to know exactly what the bill ultimately will include because, as the full Senate has debated one bill, Reid evidently has been cobbling together the real bill in the form of a “manager’s amendment.” As I understand the procedure, once Reid is certain that he has the necessary 60 votes he will offer his amendment to substitute for the bill then being debated, seek a cloture vote to end all debate, and then have a vote on the just-introduced amendment.
The 60th vote evidently is Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson. The price for his vote, among other items, is a provision stating that the federal government will pick up Nebraska’s share of the cost of expanding Medicaid, which is one of the other provisions of the sprawling bill. In short, thanks to Nelson’s coy game of hard-to-get, Nebraska taxpayers will get a free ride and taxpayers in Ohio, and Tennessee, and New Mexico, and other states will pick up Nebraska’s share of the tab.
I don’t care which side of the “health care reform” debate you are on: this kind of crass political bargaining should disgust everyone. The polling results show that a majority of Americans are opposed to the hash-house “health care reform” legislation — and now we learn that the price for having this unwanted bill crammed down our throats is that we also get saddled with subsidizing Nebraska (and, according to the article linked above, a few other states as well). As of November, the unemployment rate in Ohio was 10.6 percent; in Nebraska it was 4.5 percent. Why in the world, then, are Ohio taxpayers paying a portion of Nebraska’s share of costs?
This latest development just shows that there is no barter too crude, no back-room deal too base, and no “compromise” too appalling for Majority Leader Reid to entertain in his headlong rush to gain passage of his “manager’s amendment” by Christmas. The end result of the legislative payoffs to individual Senators and their states is a rank, costly disaster that is slowly emerging from Congress like waste product emerges from the butt-end of the digestive tract.