Poor Hillary. Here the woman ran for President and became Secretary of State, and she isn't even the most powerful woman in the country.
Olympia Snowe is.
There's something breathtaking about the cynicism behind the Obama Administration's notion that getting this one measly vote from a Republican Senator who's always been THIS CLOSE from getting kicked out of the Party of Lunatics and Bigots somehow makes the Baucus health care "reform" bill "bipartisan". We keep reading about independent and swing voters among whom Barack Obama's approval ratings are dropping. But is there anything that can be done, other than constantly dangling a new shiny object in front of them, that is going to keep these voters in the fold? The Republican Party has gone so far to the right that it's hard to imagine anyone who is actually paying attention voting for Barack Obama in one election and the secessionist Tim Pawlenty, or the lunatic Sarah Palin, or the warmonger Liz Cheney in the next one. And are these voters who don't much care other than every four years and aren't paying attention ever going to be satisfied with anything other than a constant stream of shiny object and breathless headlines?
As Mike Madden notes, the response from the doctrinaire Republicans of the Republican Party was predictable
Republicans, predictably enough, grumbled that the bill wasn't really bipartisan, and that at any rate it would change before Congress finally passes any reform plan. And they kept up the fear-mongering that seeped into the healthcare debate over the summer. "What they really want is a single-payer system," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "If we ever go to that system we'll rue the day." The whole situation is sort of a case of turnabout as fair play; if people like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson could go through eight years of the Bush administration giving "bipartisan" cover to wars and tax cuts, the GOP doesn't have much credibility in complaining that Snowe's vote doesn't count now. (Lieberman may be back to his old ways, anyway -- he told Don Imus Tuesday he wasn't sure he'd vote for the bill himself.)
What may be more important down the line is what Obama and Democratic leaders have to do to keep Snowe on board. In his brief afternoon remarks, Obama didn't mention the biggest flash point left to resolve as lawmakers try to combine all the different versions -- the public insurance option. Snowe voted against replacing the co-ops in the Finance bill with a public option, and she reiterated her opposition to such a plan Tuesday before she announced her support for the bill. There may be room to maneuver there; Snowe has said she might go for a public option rigged with some kind of "trigger," so it would take effect only if insurance rates didn't come down without it even after reform.
Does anyone actually still believe that insurance rates will come down without a real public option, especially after the insurance industry proved its thuggishness this week
? It's astounding to me that anyone believes this industry is going to change its ways unless forced to do so; this industry that sells worthless, overpriced policies and then hires armies of people whose job it is to refuse to pay claims?
Meanwhile, this is your life in a country where the insurance industry is in the business of collecting premiums and not paying claims:
So while Olympia Snowe is talking about "triggers" and believing in the good faith of the insurance companies, real families are being ruined by illnesses, while the profits of these companies continue to skyrocket. And this is the kind of bipartisanship we're supposed to applaud?
Labels: health care, just another outrage