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Puzzling Over Olympia Snowe’s Vote for Obamacare

In announcing her intention yesterday to vote for the Baucus legislative concepts on health care reform, the senior Senator from Maine, Republican Olympia Snowe, said that while the bill was “far from” all that she wanted, she would be voting for it anyway:

When history calls, history calls. . . . I happen to think the consequences of inaction dictate the urgency of Congress to take every opportunity … to solve the monumental issues of our time.

But, just because this is the major bill on the table doesn’t mean it’s the action that is necessary to address the flaws in our health care system.  Indeed, some of the provisions in the Baucus bill could actually make things worse, increasing costs and cuting Medicare payments.  Still, Snowe indicated that her vote in the Finance Committee yesterday does not guarantee that she will vote for the final bill on the Senate floor.  Eric Zimmerman of the Hill reports:

In a number of interviews this morning, Snowe, whose vote is seen as crucial for passing legislation, said she would not vote for a final bill that contains a government-run insurance plan.

“The public option would be problematic,” Snowe told MSNBC’s Morning Joe when asked what changes to the bill could cost Democrats her vote. “As I’ve said I’m against a public option because I think the government would be another vast new bureaucracy, and also create a disproportionate advantage in the marketplace. And inevitably government’s not going to do it better.”

At least she recognizes the perils of a “vast new” federal bureaucracy.  Given the numerous caveats she has offered, I’m wondering if Mrs. Snowe voted  ”yes” yesterday just so she could become the darling of the media today.  But, should she vote, “No,” down the road, they’d be quick to turn on her and even harsher in their recriminations than had she voted with her party.

Even yesterday, she said she cast her vote with reservations “because I share my Republican colleagues’ reservations about what will transpire on the Senate floor and about what will emerge from House-Senate conference“.  Despite those reservations, that vote did give Democrats a short-term victory (about which Jessica Yellin exulted on CNN), but it’s long-term implications remain unclear.

Let’s hope that when push comes to shove on final passage, she holds firm to those fiscal principles she has championed rhetorically, but of which she has often lost sight on the Senate floor.

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14 Comments

  1. Snowe is sick and tired of being Cinderella’s ugly step sister. She, just like Democrats, is desperate for the limelight and this is the only way she can make herself feel important. This much she has in common with Pres. Narcissist. Doesn’t matter how or how much damage she does-all eyes are on her now and she is basking in her own stupidity-voters be damned.

    NEVER underestimate the unbounding greed for power, money and backpatting by a politician

    Comment by John Mac. — October 14, 2009 @ 7:45 pm - October 14, 2009

  2. When idiocy calls, idiots answer.

    Comment by Adric Antfarm — October 14, 2009 @ 8:44 pm - October 14, 2009

  3. To be precise, Snowe is on record as supporting the idea of a public option, but only if the insurance industry fails to provide the level of coverage at affordable prices that are necessary to achieve universal coverage and a lessened rate of spending increases. In short – a trigger mechanism to institute that public option down the road.

    It is inaccurate to leave the impression, as you do, that she has fundamental philosophical objections to the public option to the extent that she would never vote for any version of one.

    Comment by Tano — October 14, 2009 @ 9:07 pm - October 14, 2009

  4. only if the insurance industry fails to provide the level of coverage at affordable prices that are necessary to achieve universal coverage and a lessened rate of spending increases

    I’m trying to think of a government program that managed to provide a service at an “affordable” price with a low rate of spending increases… trying… trying.

    Comment by SoCalRobert — October 14, 2009 @ 10:22 pm - October 14, 2009

  5. Snowe obviously has an incurable case of “do something disease” — the idea that government action — ANY government action is the appropriate response to any ill.

    And that extremely destructive attitude alone is a fantastic reason to send that woman packing.

    Comment by American Elephant — October 15, 2009 @ 12:07 am - October 15, 2009

  6. ‘the idea that government action — ANY government action is the appropriate response to any ill.’

    Well, that is obviously silly. Why not make at least a minimal effort to take people seriously? Snowe quite obviously does NOT believe that ANY government action is appropriate, nor does anyone else.
    What is this fascination with speaking in absurd exaggeration?

    Comment by Tano — October 15, 2009 @ 12:15 am - October 15, 2009

  7. Nothing absurd about it. That’s exactly the implication of her statement. She herself said that THE MOST IMPORTANT thing was to keep the process moving forward — not the content of the bill, not how much it will cost or how it will affect Americans or the quality, availability or affordability of health care, but moving the process forward.

    A person who thinks that government action could have bad results simply could not say that the most important thing is to keep the process moving forward.

    Please dont embarrass yourself by pretending to be logical. You’re a liberal. You’re not.

    Comment by American Elephant — October 15, 2009 @ 1:00 am - October 15, 2009

  8. Well, that is obviously silly.

    Why not make at least a minimal effort to take people seriously?

    Snowe quite obviously does NOT believe that ANY government action is appropriate, nor does anyone else.

    Help me out here

    Snowe quite obviously does NOT believe that ANY government action is appropriate, nor does anyone else.

    “Snow does not believe that (just any old?) government action is appropriate.”

    Is that what Tano is attempting to say?

    If so, why is the whole Obama health care push is in total stealth mode and being manipulated in the most clandestine manner that conniving minds can conjure up? Would Tano then explain how his “nor does anyone else” crescendo could possibly include Waxman, Pelosi, Reed, Axlerod, Emmanuel, Obama and most Democrats in Congress?

    On the other hand, if Tano is saying that “Snowe does not believe that any government action is appropriate” in the sense that Snowe therefore opposes any government action, why would Tano add that everyone else also sees government action as inappropriate.

    I am having great difficulty seeing what is “obviously silly.”

    I am finding it taxing to “make a least a minimal effort to take (Tano) seriously.”

    Tano: please diagram this sentence: Snowe quite obviously does NOT believe that ANY government action is appropriate, nor does anyone else.

    Somebody is seriously afflicted with cross-modifier identification.

    Comment by heliotrope — October 15, 2009 @ 9:55 am - October 15, 2009

  9. “Somebody is seriously afflicted with cross-modifier identification.”

    Is that covered under the ADA or is it in the DSM IV?

    Comment by The_Livewire — October 15, 2009 @ 11:13 am - October 15, 2009

  10. One factiod given for Snowe’s support is that the state of Maine’s own state health program is bankrupt and Obama-care will get the state off-the-hook for the current short-fall.

    So, all politics IS local after-all….

    Comment by Ted B. — October 15, 2009 @ 11:54 am - October 15, 2009

  11. here’s how i read snowe’s vote, as well as her subsequent remarks to the media. she understands that the worst possible outcome of the health care debate is the maintenance of the status quo. she keeps the proposal moving forward and (hopefully) will try to make the final bill better.

    Comment by Chad — October 15, 2009 @ 12:03 pm - October 15, 2009

  12. heliotrope,

    What on earth does this sentence mean? “..why is the whole Obama health care push is in total stealth mode and being manipulated in the most clandestine manner that conniving minds can conjure up?”

    I mean,,,,,whatever.

    Look, its not really all that complicated. Elephant made an absurdly false statement about Snowe’s perspective: “the idea that government action — ANY government action is the appropriate response to any ill.”

    ANY action would be appropriate – that is the charge. Even though she made it quite clear that she would not be supporting the bill if it had a robust public option (and that is the main reason the bill did not have that). Furthermore, we can presume she would not have supported the bill if it had a single payer system, or a fully socialized healthcare system. There are an enormous number of possible government actions that would have caused her to not support the bill. Thats pretty obvious.
    Even the Pelosis of the world want certain types of government involvement, not just any kind.

    Why are you attacking me for making these perfectly obvious points, instead of attacking Elephant for spouting nonsense?

    A

    Comment by Tano — October 15, 2009 @ 12:54 pm - October 15, 2009

  13. Tano,

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!

    Comment by heliotrope — October 15, 2009 @ 2:29 pm - October 15, 2009

  14. Just like every other statist I know. “we have to do something, even if we know it won’t work”. yes those are exact words of a friend of mine.

    She says how horrible the bill is, yet she is still voting for it. It doesn’t matter how much it will raise costs, raise taxes, stifle innovation in new drugs, and lower the quality of health care. Those are side effects to “answering the call of history”. She says right there her motivation: it’s sure not to make sure health care is affordable to everyone. She wants to go down in history.

    It’s like the TARP bill last year, when Frank said “we are beyond the point of questioning whether we should do this or not”

    whenever anyone was “the time for debate is over the time for action is now” then it’s time to fight against whatever they are saying, no matter what. No one says that unless they are trying to ram something through that in the end we’ll all regret.

    Another friend, when i was talking about vouchers (for schools and health care and everything where we give people money or help, instead of regulating) “Americans are too stupid to make decisions for themselves”

    yes, this is the modern left and right, both parties.

    Comment by plutosdad — October 15, 2009 @ 4:53 pm - October 15, 2009

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