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|Landrieu's rhetoric front and center now|
Vilifying Sen. Mary Landrieu for her vote to proceed with a full-fledge debate over the future of health care in America seems to be the chic thing to do at the present time.
The criticism should be leveled at a later date, if necessary.
More on that point in a moment.
This past weekend, the Senate held a key vote on the health care reform issue. The vote concerned a motion on whether the Senate would move forward and begin work on a health care reform bill when the Congress returns from the Thanksgiving holiday break.
That's all it was. A vote on a simple motion that authorized the Senate to entertain legislation at a future date. Landrieu voted for it.
Since the threat of a filibuster loomed, some 60 votes were needed in the Senate to pass the health care motion. For those of you who do not pay attention to the comings and goings in the Congress, the 60 votes represented two-thirds of the members of the Senate, or the magical number of votes that's need to shut down the mere threat of a filibuster in lieu of proceeding with a debate or a vote.
Landrieu and Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas were the two so-called moderate Democrats who did not commit to vote for the health care motion until the last minute, or were non-committal until they extracted some concessions from the Democratic leadership in the Senate. Had Landrieu or Lincoln not played ball, the health care motion would have died and the Senate would not be discussing health care reform after Thanksgiving. To surmise, Landrieu and Lincoln represented the 59th and 60th votes.
We know now that Landrieu secured some $300 million in additional health care funding for Louisiana in exchange for her "yea" vote. The money, if it comes to fruition, will help shore up a deficit the state will face in its Medicaid program in the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Remember, the pending Medicaid deficit surfaced because annual per capita incomes in Louisiana rose following hurricanes Katrina and Rita thanks to robust economic activity in southern Louisiana. Accordingly, the feds, in their infinite wisdom, will appropriate less money for Louisiana next year for its Medicaid program because, in the government's opinion, the state and her people are better off today than they were just a few years ago. Go figure.
Regardless, the pending Medicaid deficit in Louisiana is real. The $300 million Landrieu garnered for Louisiana's Medicaid program is real, too.
And I suspect Gov. Bobby Jindal isn't griping about the $300 million Landrieu got for her vote on the health care motion on Saturday. Jindal needs the money badly to avoid a budgetary meltdown in the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2010.
In the meantime, do not interpret this offering as a defense of Landrieu and her vote on the heath care motion. She was right to cast her vote in favor of allowing the Senate to debate an issue as important as health care.
However, not one of the so-called health care reform bills offered by any member of the CongressóDemocrat or Republicanówill solve the country's problems in making available affordable health care for the people. Not one of them.
Yet, we need to witness the Congress debate the merits of any and all legislation aimed at overhauling the health care system as we know it. More specific, we need to hear Democrats defend their proposed massive tax increases on the backs of the American people to extend health care coverage for a few million folks who currently don't have it for one reason or another. That's exactly what the Democrats have in mind, too.
We need to hear from Republicans as well. Unfortunately, it seems as if their plan to tinker with health care represents a wholesale sell-out to the health insurance industry. It's another lap dog with fleas.
You can rest easy, though, for much work in the bowels of the capitol will occur before the American people have an idea of what Barack Obama's grand plan to redistribute wealth in America will entail. In other words, the Senate most likely will pass a health care bill that's miles apart from the measure the House passed a short time ago. At that point, a conference committee will iron out the differences, setting the stage for the House and Senate to vote up or down on the finished product.
That's when we will learn whether Sen. Landrieu's rhetoric about putting Louisiana first is fact or a grand lie, or strikingly similar to the health care reform bills her party has been peddling for months.