[Posted by Karl]
On Thursday, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) told KLIN radio that the latest compromise language on abortion funding in ReidCare was unacceptable.
Thus, the question of the moment remains whether he will cave on the issue at some point. After all, just a month ago, Ben said he would be satisfied with the language approved by the Senate Finance Committee, which was less restrictive than the Stupak amendment added to the House bill. However, at the Lincoln JournalStar, Dan Walton argues that Ben will stick to his guns, citing the senator’s strong ties to Nebraska Right to Life.
Of course, Ben may have an easier time sticking with his position because abortion is not his only problem with the Reid bill. He reaffirmed to KLIN that there are “other substantive issues” keeping him from voting for cloture and ending debate. Indeed, Nelson has voted for more Republican amendments to the bill than any other member of the Democrats’ caucus. Moreover, Ben’s background is in the insurance industry (and insurance regulation); he represents a solid GOP state with a significant insurance industry presence.
Like Ben, No. 3 Dem defector Evan Bayh (D-IN) received more than $470,000 from the health insurance industry since 2006. Bayh’s wife is a director at Indianapolis-based health insurer WellPoint Inc.
Some may surprised to learn that the No. 2 Dem defector is Jim Webb (D-Va). Indeed, Webb and Nelson have consistently voted for GOP motions to recommit the bill back to the Finance Committee. “Smoking out” senators like Webb has been part of the GOP’s strategy in offering all of these amendments to the bill. I am a bit skeptical that the GOP can get Webb’s vote for a filibuster, despite the big GOP election victories in Virginia last month.
Ben Nelson remains the man of the moment, and his shift on abortion in the past month leaves everyone hanging. Does it signal that he is looking for some formulation that moves him closer to backing ReidCare? Or — as with Lieberman suddenly opposing the Medicare buy-in he once advocated — is Nelson looking for ways to avoid getting to “yes?”
Note: Thanks for the Lincoln JournalStar piece and the National Journal chart go to Jay Cost (of RCP’s excellent HorseRace blog) via his new account on Twitter.
Update: Jay Cost has posted his own take on “The Democrats’ Health Care Dilemma.”