Saturday, November 21, 2009

Senate Health Bill Gives Louisiana $300 Million

not $100 million. Vote-buying? Hell no, it is business as usual.

This is a piece of news from 2 days ago:

The $100 Million Health Care Vote?
(Jonathan Karl, ABC News The Note)

"What does it take to get a wavering senator to vote for health care reform?

"Here’s a case study.

"On page 432 of the Reid bill, there is a section increasing federal Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.”

"The section spends two pages defining which “states” would qualify, saying, among other things, that it would be states that “during the preceding 7 fiscal years” have been declared a “major disaster area.”

"I am told the section applies to exactly one state: Louisiana, the home of moderate Democrat Mary Landrieu, who has been playing hard to get on the health care bill.

"In other words, the bill spends two pages describing would could be written with a single world: Louisiana. (This may also help explain why the bill is long.)

"Senator Harry Reid, who drafted the bill, cannot pass it without the support of Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu.

"How much does it cost? According to the Congressional Budget Office: $100 million."

The ABC article has the actual section (Section 2006 of the Senate health care bill).

And now? Did it work? Sure it did. In another sneaky vote done on the Saturday evening (8 PM EST), the bill had just enough votes (60, super-majority) to move to debate. Louisiana, thanks to Ms. Mary Landrieu, would receive not $100 million but $300 million:

Landrieu defends state funding in heath bill
(11/21/09 Politico Live Pulse) [emphasis is mine]

"Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu defended a provision in the health bill that would send $300 million to her state, saying it was not the reason she will vote in favor of moving the bill forward. Insiders questioned whether the money was dropped in as a sweetener to win her vote."

"“I’m proud to have asked for it and I’m proud to have fought for it and I will continue to. That is not the reason I am moving the debate," Landrieu said, adding that the entire Louisiana congressional delegation and Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal support the provision."

[Well, who wouldn't? Free money for them.]

""And, in typical Louisiana fashion, Landrieu corrected reports, based on a Congressional Budget Office estimate, that the provision would cost $100 million. In fact, she said, it will bring home Louisiana $300 million."

$300 million to buy her vote, which was really, very, truly, absolutely critical in securing the Saturday's vote to move the bill to debate. The vote was 60 to 39, and Reid needed all of 60 votes.

Louisiana, by the way, is suffering from budget shortfall partly due to its ever-expanding state payroll. Under the Republican governor, as the state revenue has decreased, the state payroll increased by 3%, with the largest job gain in the higher incomes. (For more, read this news from February this year.)

I wonder what has been promised to the other wavering Democratic Senator, Ms. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.


Anonymous said...

Politics at its finest. I hope the cajuns see through this and vote this bum out.

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