Patterico's Pontifications

10/14/2009

ObamaCare: Snowementum!

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:33 am



[Posted by Karl]

The establishment media and the Obama administration lavished the love on Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) for backing the Baucus vapor bill in the Finance Committee. Snowe was not finding many admirers elsewhere.

On the Right, it was easy to find people who wanted to protest, or purge her from the GOP altogether. Allahpundit noted Snowe’s pompous egotism, even while acknowledging her vote was a no-brainer in terms of maintaining her influence.

However, Snowe’s vote — and continued leverage — was not exactly embraced on the Left. As FireDogLake’s Jon Walker put it:

Snowe’s support could signal a bad day for real reform.

Snowe has long been opposed to some of the most important elements of reform. I’m not just referring to her opposition to a real public option and her support for a worthless trigger proposal.

Snowe opposes a real employer mandate, and instead favors a disastrously stupid “free rider” provision. It could have serious consequences for low-income workers.

She is against giving the exchanges the power to negotiate with private insurance companies. This is a provision that should help keep down the cost of health care. It would save individuals money and the government money. Snowe fears it is too much government involvement. John Kingsdale, who runs Massachusetts’s exchange, called Snowe’s insistence that the exchanges not have the power to negotiate price with insurance companies a recipe for disaster.

Just today, during the committee hearing, she reaffirmed her support for “national plans.” This would allow health insurance companies to sell national plans in any states. Individuals state would lose the power to regulate these insurance plans sold in their states. The national plans would be exempt from all minimum benefit requirements mandated by the state legislature. This has been for a long time one of the top goals of the for-profit health insurance industry.

These are only the few changes that I know Snowe requested…

The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber adds:

[N]ow that Snowe has voted for the bill in committee, she can basically dictate the terms of the final bill… That’s because, if you alienate her during the forthcoming negotiations, her defection from the final bill would be disastrous. Just imagine the atmospherics of Olympia Snowe getting up on the Senate floor and saying she was so serious about passing health care reform she voted for it in committee, but that she can no longer support the bill because it’s moved too far to the left. It would be absolutely devastating.

Given the likelihood that the merged bill Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid plans to bring to the floor will end up more to the Left than the Baucus vapor bill, her committee vote is a nice CYA move with her constituents, and one Democrats may come to despise in the future more than Republicans do in the present.

Moreover, Snowe was not the only Senator crossing an aisle yesterday, as Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told Don Imus he would not support the Baucus vapor bill. TNR’s Jonathan Chait notes:

Connecticut is home to numerous insurance companies, and of course insurers have suddenly gone to war on health care reform. That may be a factor. My read is that Lieberman remains furious at the party for endorsing Democratic nominee Ned Lamont for the Senate in 2006 over Lieberman’s independent candidacy. Lieberman, of course, campaigned hard against Obama in 2008, and probably would enjoy the vindication of seeing Obama’s presidency fail

For months I’ve been predicting that the Democrats will pass health care reform because they’re not going to cut their own throat. But Lieberman is an independent. A failed Democratic presidency wouldn’t necessarily bring him down with it in 2012. It might even help. So I may have made a major error focusing on red state Democrats and overlooking Lieberman.

For a moment, savor the scenario in which the nutroots’ party purge of Lieberman could end up derailing their most cherished agenda item. Ed Morrissey downplayed this announcement, on the ground that Joe “wants an incremental approach rather than a comprehensive approach, specific to delivery.” But the Baucus vapor bill defines the most plausible conservative outcome. If Lieberman does not support the vapor bill, he may end up backing the GOP on the floor more often than Snowe.

In sum, the Dems (and the establishment media) gained a few days of Snowementum, but take a fair amount of risk in building her up for taking a vote they did not need to get the vapor bill out of committee. Meanwhile, one of the 60 votes the Dems will need in the full Senate announced he would not support a proposal more conservative than what they are likely to produce. On balance, yesterday’s news for the GOP was better than the establishment media would have everyone believe.

–Karl

43 Responses to “ObamaCare: Snowementum!”

  1. You realize that I have to hurt you for that pun, right? :)

    Scott Jacobs (445f98)

  2. off topic, so don’t publish if possible.

    For some reason your RSS feeds seem stuck back on October 5th. I expect that you may already know.

    Jim Hall (ba9dfb)

  3. Just wait until the massive ad campaign against the bill hits the airwaves in a few days, courtesy of the spurned lovers from the insurance companies. If you think the “Harry and Louise” ads were devastating not too long ago, wait’ll you see this one. Every state with a vulnerable Dem will be flooded with these ads – what fun.

    Dmac (5ddc52)

  4. Dmac: This supposed massive backlash won’t stop reform. The insurance company’s “study” by Price Waterhouse Cooper at this hour has been almost completely discredited, in part by PWC itself. Democrats will cast the latest campaign as a bunch of lies, and you and I both know the media will assist in building that narrative.

    Karl said: ” … savor the scenario in which the nutroots’ party purge of Lieberman could end up derailing their most cherished agenda item. …”

    Or, we could savor the scenario in which the GOP’s purge of Spector could end up passing our most cherished agenda item.

    Guess it depends on how you look at it. :)

    The good money is on something passing.

    You probably heard that Collins of Maine is also considering getting on board the winning train.

    Myron (6a93dd)

  5. And yes, the pun is bad. But in my opinion puns SHOULD be bad. That’s what makes them fun!

    Myron (6a93dd)

  6. Its pretty hilarious that any Democrat would claim that a study of the healthcare legislation was “discredited” given the bogus numbers they themselves are using to push it.

    Oh, right … Myron … still flogging the same tired memes …

    SPQR (26be8b)

  7. Why was her vote anything other than meaningless? Wasn’t the vote 13-9? Had she voted nay it would still have passed.

    JD (cfbd15)

  8. Myron, I looked for your link to the study that discredited the PWC study. Maybe you typed the code incorrectly ? Please repost that link so I can evaluate the evidence for your statement. That, of course, is assuming you have some.

    Mike K (187f3b)

  9. Myron,

    You have a point about Specter. I wrote this more for the crowd at HotAir, so there is definitely a subtext about the efficacy of party purges.

    As for Collins, it’s as much to her benefit as Snowe’s to strike a pose now.

    Karl (f07e38)

  10. Myron, the two “Lobster Hoochies” (h/t feets) have never been considered to be anything but the two quislings of the GOP. And comparing them to Spector makes perfect sense, although not in the way you intended.

    Dmac (5ddc52)

  11. As for the good money being on something passing, I’ll bet George Mitchell thought the same thing when he brought a merged hc bill to the floor in 1994. The odds are slightly better now bc of the extra Dem Senators, but most of the underlying problems that caused Mitchell to pull the bill in ’94 remain today. Might have to do a whole post on that at some point.

    Karl (f07e38)

  12. JD,

    I think the Senate rules require at least one minority party member to be “Present” when a vote is taken. At least, that’s what I’m gathering from the Senate Finance Committee rules.

    http://finance.senate.gov/rules.pdf

    Xmas (f7203c)

  13. Headline…Maine Sinks Again. History called again, yes?

    political agnostic (5dc226)

  14. Mike K – It is discredited because Myron and TPM say so. CBO numbers based on imaginary cuts are gospel. Accounting for 10 years of “revenue” and only 7 years of expenses is also okay. It is a surreal world they live in.

    JD (cfbd15)

  15. Xmas – There were 10 Republicans present.

    JD (cfbd15)

  16. Democrats will cast the latest campaign as a bunch of lies, and you and I both know the media will assist in building that narrative.

    And independents have effectively shunned the media after their tea – bagging debacle and discredited reporting of the healthcare reform bill – hence the protests at townhall meetings across the country.

    The MSM has never seen anything like the war chest that’s coming down the pike on this issue – the Dems are idiots for thinking that any industry’s not going to push back against efforts to put it out of business. Blue Dogs will not have their loyal media enablers to push back on this issue anymore – one ad showcasing the auto bailouts and the CBO deficit projections are all that’s needed at this point. The local media in those states may bray all they wish, but the ads will demolish their dwindling voice in the debate.

    Dmac (5ddc52)

  17. Lobster-pot hoochies 😉

    h/t happyfeet

    JD (cfbd15)

  18. Loving the lobster pot hoochies nickname…TOO FUNNY!

    Dmac, I believe that your comment (#16) is totally correct.

    Favorite money quote: “…the Dems are idiots for thinking that any industry’s not going to push back against efforts to put it out of business.” My thoughts exactly.

    Thank you.

    Charlotte (dad663)

  19. If this is the real Charlotte, and just how many real Charlottes are there…tot siens, en kom meer dikwels.

    political agnostic (5dc226)

  20. The hospitals and drug industries are in favor of the Baucus bill. It’s the insurance companies (primarily) that aren’t. I suspect the drug makers have more funds available for media than the insurance companies, if push comes to shove.

    Jim (743658)

  21. Jim – I believe you are confusing coersion and extortion for support.

    JD (0ac8d6)

  22. Update: Sen. Collins thinks the Baucus bill is not good enough.

    Jim,

    PhRMA likes the Baucus bill; there’s no guarantee that Waxman & Co. won’t ultimately alienate them.

    Karl (f07e38)

  23. Comment by Karl — 10/14/2009 @ 9:04 am

    Reminding Myron of events in ’94 is not effective, since his Day-Care Center did not have C-Span, therefore, these were below his radar, and he has (obviously) had no use for history texts during his “academic” career – just when will you graduate from HS, Myron?

    AD - RtR/OS! (12661a)

  24. I suspect the drug makers have more funds available for media than the insurance companies, if push comes to shove.

    One of my good friends is in upper management of the sales division of one of the top three Pharmas, and he’s made a point of telling me over the past few years that a large percentage of their revenues and profits are already dictated by gov’t programs and mandates (i.e. Medicare) so their tacit support of the gov’t plan is really the non – surprise of the day. But guess what you’re missing here? The other remaining balance of those profits are dictated by the insurance companies.

    So you’re telling us that all of a sudden Big Pharma’s going to start crapping all over their biggest customers, aside from the gov’t? They already have the gov’t in the bag, they cannot afford to blow off the other half of the equation. Simply put, they don’t have a dog in this fight anymore, and they’ll do absolutely nothing until the brouhaha’s over. To pretend otherwise is pure fantasy on your part.

    Dmac (5ddc52)

  25. The insurance company’s “study” by Price Waterhouse Cooper at this hour has been almost completely discredited, in part by PWC itself.

    You know, I really do like having Myron around but this stuff is getting very, very old.

    Beyond the scare quotes around the word “study” is his ongoing insistence in offering up opposing statements that have no basis in any kind of fact checking. A quick Google search only brings up white House statements calling the report “biased” and “Partisan” without a lick of substantive points of fact that supported that assertion.

    The accounting industry took an almost mortal blow because of the Enron/Tyco abuses. Arthur Anderson denigrated the very foundation of a big accounting firm’s reason d’etre, impartiality in auditing practices, and the entire industry paid big time. Price Waterhouse’s report constitutes an audit of a particular public industry and is supposed to reflect that impartiality, no less so than anything that comes from the CBO.

    After months and months of bogus numbers and just plain monkey crap from the Democrats trying to ram this Chitty Chitty Bang Bang contraption down our throats, Myron needs to come up with something a little more substantive than unsupported opinion.

    BJTexs (a2cb5a)

  26. Myron never has and never will.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  27. I remember something about Obama once cornering Lieberman in the Senate and “giving him the riot act”. Another example of his assumption that whatever he wants to happen will come true. Well, I think Sen. Lieberman has a little more spine than to say, “Yes sir” when the one speaks.

    MD in Philly (cb8efe)

  28. Here is a nice post on the PWC study that Myron should read, but won’t. LIke his compatriots at Wash Monthly, he will avoid other opinions as they might unsettle the talking points he has memorized.

    Mike K (187f3b)

  29. There is more on that history that was calling Olympia. It was the bankruptcy of the Maine health plan that mimics Obama’s. Now we know. She needed the bailout.

    MIke K (187f3b)

  30. Okay. By a show of hands, who got to meet Ernie Banks today?

    Raises hand

    😉

    JD (cc3aa7)

  31. I’m impressed that Myron believes that disclosure by a study’s author of its assumptions and limitations constitutes discrediting when it is actually pretty much standard practice. Omitting assumptions and limitations is something the left does because they don’t want you to see how they are deliberately cooking the outcome to achieve a result.

    daleyrocks (d057d3)

  32. daleyrocks, you are giving Myron credit for more sophisticated argument than he’s demonstrated to date.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  33. I love how it complains about a flawed study, while touting CBO numbers based on ginormous imaginary Medicare cuts, and based on 10 years of “revenue” but only 7 years of costs. Now the CBO numbers are golden, but dismissed out of hand when they said that there were unsustainable deficits as far as the eye could see.

    JD (5e5cad)

  34. I love how it complains about a flawed study, while touting CBO numbers based on ginormous imaginary Medicare cuts, and based on 10 years of “revenue” but only 7 years of costs. Now the CBO numbers are golden, but dismissed out of hand when they said that there were unsustainable deficits as far as the eye could see.

    JD (5e5cad)

  35. Department of Redundant JD Department! :-)

    BJTexs (3e68c7)

  36. A double-dose of wisdom, for the thinking-impaired.

    JD (5e5cad)

  37. That would be Ernie Banks, famous Texan.

    happyfeet (f62c43)

  38. Yes, a famous Texan. Texas has given the world some good things.

    JD (5e5cad)

  39. politico stoled your snowementum.

    They stoled it and I know they stoled it and I better not catch them at the bike racks after school.

    happyfeet (f62c43)

  40. That’s just wrong. Karl invented Snowementum and it’s an awesome term. Politico should give credit where it’s due.

    DRJ (7fbae6)

  41. “On balance, yesterday’s news for the GOP was better than the establishment media would have everyone believe.” Sure hope this is a true
    statement.

    krusher (6f6e76)

  42. JD,

    I’m just trying to figure out why Snowe’s vote was needed at all. I’m guessing that it was some sort of parliamentary rule that requires one vote from the minority party in order for the actual vote to be taken.

    Xmas (d6dd65)

  43. Xmas, I think you are thinking of the rule that a vote for a bill allows a motion later to table or reconsider. That’s why a Senator who opposes a bill may vote for it when it is obvious it will pass.

    I think she had several motives, most of which will help Republicans. She needs the bailout for Maine if it passes. She needs the cover in her left wing state.

    At one time, Maine was a leader in real health reform. That was in the 90s when the medical association had a non-profit subsidiary called the Maine Medical Assessment Foundation that really did a lot of important work in quality improvement. Some of that may linger as support for Democratic ideas on reform.

    The Dartmouth people, who were involved in Maine, wrote a lot of the Clinton plan. They were devastated when it failed and I was there at the time. The problem at the time was that the bill was written by academics and had no input from private docs or hospitals. It was done in secret, like this is being done, and Hillary alienated everyone. It was probably a better plan that whatever this is and the country was in far better financial shape.

    I think Snowe will be the one who pulls the plug unless they giver her everything she wants.

    Mike K (2cf494)


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