Even as Senate Democrats will be seating Scott Brown today, they still don’t seem to have learned much from his election. With the American people upset not just about the content of the various health care bills, but also about the process of cobbling them together, Senate Democrats stand behind the product of their back room machinations.
The health care bill is in trouble, but a series of narrow deals — each designed to win over a wavering senator or key interest group — is alive and well, despite voter anger over the parochial horse-trading that marked the rush toward passage before Christmas.
With the exception of Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson’s “Cornhusker Kickback,” which alienated independent voters and came to symbolize an out-of-touch Washington, none of the other narrow provisions that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid inserted into the bill appear to be in any kind of danger as Democrats try to figure out the way ahead.
Not only that, House liberals want to reopen the labor deal struck just days before Democrats lost their 60-vote majority — not to dial it back but to provide more generous protections from the tax on Cadillac insurance plans.
Rick Richman contends that such protections which he calls “the Union-Label Insurance Exemption (U-LIE)”
marked the culmination of a process that violated multiple Obama promises about the changes he would bring to Washington: it was not transparent, it was not post-partisan, and it did not eliminate the Blue State/Red State dichotomy. On the contrary, it followed a parade of buy-offs, kickbacks, and exemptions given to Blue State senators to garner their participation in the “historic” process
There is something bizarre in watching the Democrats stand fast to their process and payoffs. It’s not just that Obama ran against exactly this type of political deal-making in his 2008 campaign, but that the American people have signaled their disgust with this of legislating in polls and at the ballot box in states holding elections in recent days and months.