Patterico's Pontifications

12/19/2009

ObamaCare: Will Nelson buckle? Yes, he will!

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:44 am



[Posted by Karl]

Normally, I would not post anything so close in time to one of Patterico’s own posts… or something on a Saturday morning… but:

Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the final Democratic holdout on health care, was prepared to announce to his caucus Saturday morning that he would support the Senate reform bill, clearing the way for final passage by Christmas.

***

Democratic leaders spent days trying to hammer out a deal with Nelson, and worked late Friday night with Nelson on abortion coverage language that had proved the major stumbling block. But Nelson also secured other favors for his home state.

Asked if he was prepared to support the bill, Nelson said, “Yeah.”

Ed Morrissey has the text of the Manager’s Amendment filed this morning, and observes that Nelson got basically nothing on abortion and help on federal Medicaid subsidies.

In last night’s comments, I noted that at the time he rejected the Casey language, I feared Nelson would buckle.  This was in large part because the abortion debate always seemed largely like an exercise in CYA (and scorecard politics), both as to the Nelson amendment and the Stupak amendment in the House.

Moments ago, Nelson claimed he reserved the right to vote against the next cloture vote if there are “material changes” made in conference, but that seeks unlikely.  The GOP’s best shot at defeating ObamaCare was on the respective floors of each chamber.  The House GOP might have been able to upset the apple cart by voting “present” on the Stupak amendment (or at least exposed the faux-life Dems who can now stab pro-lifers in the back on final passage without warning).  The Senate GOP might have been able to derail the bill, had they been willing to be the obstructionists they were nevertheless accused of being, rather than go with their amendment strategy.  But now ObamaCare seems headed for a conference committee.  That won’t be easy, as none of the steps to date have been.  But it will mostly be haggling over prices, and figuring out how to exempt Big Labor from the “Cadillac” tax in the Reid bill.  A quick skim of the Manager’s Amendment — particularly Subtitle H — shows Reid is already headed that way.

Addendum: Recall that in 2006, Nebraska Right to Life refused endorse the GOP nominee or issue a dual endorsement. How did that work out for them?

–Karl

46 Responses to “ObamaCare: Will Nelson buckle? Yes, he will!”

  1. It sounds more and more like final passage will boil down to two issues for Democrats:

    1) Will liberals swallow the Stupak language on abortion, and if not, will pro-life Dems bail on the final compromise?

    2) Will the tax remain on the Cadillac plans, and if not what other revenue sources will be tapped in order to pay for this monstrosity?

    I have always figured that in the end the Dems would understand the sheer necessity of passing some bill — any bill — but I am starting to wonder if the fissures between liberals and centrists in that party might kill the end product at the last moments. At the very least, they may produce an unpalatable final compromise that sweeps them out of power and gives the GOP a fighting chance of undoing the damage. The latter part about the GOP undoing the damage is probably wishful thinking on my part.

    JVW (0fe413)

  2. What is stopping GOP Senators from introducing amendments and then insisting they be read out loud in their entirety? There is probably some rule against it, but I don’t know what it would be.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  3. JVW,

    1. The Senate language is the most there will be, and faux-lifers in the house would vote for the watered-down version. That’s precisely why I wrote about the GOP’s decision to back the Stupak amendment, and the pro-life interest groups’ delusion that it mattered. Oddly enough, the pro-lifers who showed up in my Twitter feed during the House debate to tell me how brilliant this all was, are not there today.

    2. Subtitle H of Reid’s amendment continues the whittling down of the excise tax on high-cost plans. Big Labor will be appeased, and the difference will be made up with a tax on… wait for it… “the rich!” Because further burdening small businesses that file under Subchapter S is an awesome policy that will totally cause these businesses to create more jobs with awesome health benefits. Good thing unemployment is low!

    Karl (cc4af5)

  4. Stashiu3,

    The deal is that the GOP can force Reid’s amendment to be read in full, but Reid has filed for cloture on his amendment, plus two more cloture motions that will close debate on the bill. And if they have 60 votes, they have 60 votes. It will take until Christmas Eve to have the 30 hrs of debate on the 3 cloture motions, but the big vote is really the first one — likely 1 a.m. on Monday. The Senate GOP could have been totally obstructionist at the outset of the debate, but chose not to be (and got nothing for it, apparently).

    Karl (cc4af5)

  5. “What is stopping GOP Senators from introducing amendments and then insisting they be read out loud in their entirety? There is probably some rule against it, but I don’t know what it would be”

    It probably violates the Rule of Plausible Deniability.

    Sean P (4e8ea3)

  6. Thank you Karl, I understand now. I knew the GOP was stupid, they trusted John McCain (and still do I guess). I didn’t realize they were that stupid.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  7. Karl, I did see where the tax on high-end plans is going to be replaced by more “soak the rich” philosophy. The only saving grace is that the bill starts collecting the money immediately, so we will have a couple of years of showing that the revenue gathered is nowhere near what the bill’s sponsors projected before the so-called reforms come into effect. Maybe that can be used as an effective campaign issue in 2010 and 2012.

    JVW (0fe413)

  8. Bottom line: America betrayed, Medicare destroyed, Democrat cabal abandons representative government, GOP pretends to oppose Coup d’etat.

    ropelight (10c842)

  9. Nelson has been bought off with a provision that exempts Nebraska from the Medicaid costs that will push the states further into bankruptcy. From McConnell’s press conference:

    Medicaid: “The bill imposes massive burdens on states that are already struggling under the weight of the cost of Medicaid. At the same time, however, it gives special sweetheart deals to a select few states. Interestingly enough, two states that stand out are Nebraska and Vermont.” This means that taxpayers elsewhere around the country end up “paying more so that Nebraska and Vermont can get a special deal.”

    The language is here but the font is so faint it’s hard to read.

    Nothing so ephemeral as abortion would move a politician when the chips are really down. Cold hard cash does it though.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  10. “What is stopping GOP Senators from introducing amendments and then insisting they be read out loud in their entirety? There is probably some rule against it, but I don’t know what it would be”

    I think the leadership has some power to decide whether a bill will have amendments, and how many.

    imdw (c06324)

  11. “2) Will the tax remain on the Cadillac plans, and if not what other revenue sources will be tapped in order to pay for this monstrosity?”

    There’s always the Medicare Part D route.

    imdw (c06324)

  12. I think the leadership has some power to decide whether a bill will have amendments, and how many.
    Comment by imdw — 12/19/2009 @ 9:05 am

    I think I don’t trust a thing you say without credible links that actually say what you claim they say. Don’t respond to me without that thought in mind or you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  13. Stashiu3,

    Although the press accounts don’t mention it, I presume Reid resorted to the tactic of “filling the amendment tree” to cut off further GOP amendments. As you’ll see at the link, Reid would not be the first Maj Ldr to do so.

    Karl (cc4af5)

  14. Stashiu3, just remember that this character loves the Urban Dictionary. Except when you enter his ‘nym into the search function there, the #2 “hit” was “poser.”

    Fits, huh?

    Eric Blair (ddbceb)

  15. Thanks again Karl, that’s precisely the question I originally meant to ask but didn’t know how. Does anyone know (which automatically excludes imdw) if Reid actually did this?

    Eric, I agree that it fits. I self-censor a lot whenever I address imdw.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  16. Keep in mind that a major part of this “reform” is a requirement that every American be attached to a health insurance plan. And who will oversee and enforce that? If only by default — or assuming some new nanny-state, big-brother entity isn’t created to pick up the slack — that would have to be the IRS. So now it will be a two-for-one government nuisance: Nitpicking over and nagging you about your income and nitpicking over and nagging you about your insurance.

    Mark (411533)

  17. Stashiu3,

    Alternatively, the fact that Reid can fill the tree may have caused McConnell & Co. to not bother with obstructionism after Nelson caved. That’s why my original post referred to the issue with GOP strategy at the start of debate.

    Karl (cc4af5)

  18. Alternatively, the fact that Reid can fill the tree may have caused McConnell & Co. to not bother with obstructionism after Nelson caved.
    Comment by Karl — 12/19/2009 @ 9:39 am

    *sigh* Any chance that D.C. will be snowed-in until 2012? Maybe if we get Al Gore to visit that long?

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  19. This is a shoddy, sad, and scary piece of business, isn’t it?

    Obama may thus prosper politically by being the author of the most explicit, credible, and effective threat ever made to the survival of Offut Air Force Base. Strategic military planners around the world must marvel, once again, at how the most serious existential threat to the interests of the United States of America consistently comes from … the United States of America — and in this case, from its White House and Capitol Hill. How, too, they must laugh to see the relative weight given by the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats to, on the one hand, preservation of basic national security, and on the other, perpetration of a despicable domestic power-grab.

    I predict that Nelson will be remembered by his states voters as having ended up dishonoring their intentions so violently as to have also dishonored himself and his overall tenure in office. And he won’t be alone in that category.

    Beldar (e296b5)

  20. “states voters” —> “state’s voters”

    Beldar (e296b5)

  21. Every politician has their price…

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (76097c)

  22. So I was wrongheaded to ask for a “nay” vote on Stupak. I was wrong to understand that it was just a matter of getting a bill, any bill, to conference.

    I’ll also be wrong when our Republic collapses.

    We saw the first open/brazen Chinese real politik this week when they snubbed our president and ensured there would be no climate agreement. Mind you, the climate conference was a sham. However, the point is that they are now in the open as never before with their demands and it is just the beginning. Absent divine providence, we are done. It’s a matter of when, not if. Our debtors hold all the cards, save military. You think we will go to war against them? Nope. We are gonna join ’em.

    YMMV.

    Ed from SFV (1333b1)

  23. There’s no whore like a Nebraska whore. Except for maybe a Louisiana whore. And Maine. And the states what have senators.

    happyfeet (2c63dd)

  24. “Obama may thus prosper politically by being the author of the most explicit, credible, and effective threat ever made to the survival of Offut Air Force Base.”

    I suppose it’s not within the commander in chief’s power to decide where bases are. But hasn’t this been denied all around?

    imdw (c06324)

  25. The first thing to remember about Democrats, they lie, cheat and steal … You can add your own to the list.

    bill-tb (541ea9)

  26. Unprincipled blackmailer-types make the best senators. The voters would be stupid to vote for principled candidates because it’s in their best interest to elect representatives and senators that sell their vote to the highest bidder and whose only goal is to bring home as much treasure as they can at the expense of other states and districts.

    In other words, it’s broken and can’t be fixed. The union must be dissolved immediately.

    j curtis (5126e4)

  27. Totally unrelated. But what’s with this, Mr. Karl? Or maybe DRJ would know? I never liked this shallow stupid and not particularly vaguely supercilious hoochie…

    Cloture on the defense bill passed 63-33, with Collins, Snowe, and Kay Bailey Hutchison voting yes.

    happyfeet (2c63dd)

  28. oh. That was from this post by one Allahpundit.

    happyfeet (2c63dd)

  29. Obama will get his “signature” healthcare plan. Progressives will do as told and line up behind him.

    Make no mistake, though: The combination of “bridge too far” and watered-down “reform” makes it considerably harder for Obama to try other things. Like, say, amnesty. And cap-and-trade. Too many progressives are angry about dealmaking with Joe LIEberman to get anything else done, and it will bite them hard on 11/6/12.

    Brad S (d566f4)

  30. This is the first small evidence of the fascist trend in the Democratic Party. Progressives have been fascist in inclination but the word became radioactive in the Second World War. It is still used as an epithet by the left against the right but the reality of the progressive movement is known to those who have studied the history. In the 1920s and 30s, they claimed fascism as a public benefit. Mussolini made the trains run on time. He even appeared in a silent movie with Lionel Barrymore before his march on Rome.

    Here is how the present day progressive wishes to treat their opposition in Congress.

    All their assets would be frozen, and all family members as well as all contributors to their 2008 campaigns would be rounded up and shipped to temporary relocation tents (or leftover FEMA trailers, where available) until their new Special Reeducation Center is ready for occupation at Guantanamo Bay, hopefully sometime in the next year. Those people would of course be ineligible to benefit in any way from any aspect of the government’s efforts to combat the economic meltdown.

    Any of the House 188 attempting to interfere with these new arrangements would be given one warning, and then arrested for obstruction of justice. In case of further disturbance, they would be designated terrorists with “enemy combatant” status and shipped off for a grand farewell tour of the CIA “black site” prisons. In cases of noncooperation, security personnel — ideally not the same useless bunch that failed to police the inauguration — would have authorization to blast the bastards’ thieving brains out.

    This all sounds vaguely familiar. It’s a bit like those Chicago judges who keep turning up dead.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  31. Karl, here is an interesting analysis of the political effect on Democrats if they pass, or don’t pass this bill.

    His conclusion is that it is much worse of they pass it.

    If Democrats need to appeal to Independents and moderates to hold their majorities, then passing this bill is a terrible idea. The most recent polling shows that 81% of Republicans and 69% of Independents oppose the healthcare plan (with 74% of Republicans and 57% of Independents strongly opposing it). With majorities of Independents strongly opposed to the bill, it’s really hard to imagine any boost in Democratic turnout from passing the plan being enough to surpass the ensuing backlash from Republicans and Independents.

    It isn’t even clear that there will be a boost in Democratic turnout. The latest version of the Senate bill holds little appeal for progressives.

    He reports on one moderate Democrat who has voted against Cap&Trade and health care. She is in decent shape while her colleagues are all going down like a rock.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  32. “…Nitpicking over and nagging you about your income and nitpicking over and nagging you about your insurance.”
    Comment by Mark — 12/19/2009 @ 9:38 am

    With more and more people “going Galt”, the IRS will have fewer and fewer taxpayers to interact with.
    No income, No taxes, No insurance!

    We are becoming Italy, where the underground economy, and hiding wealth, is a flourishing enterprise, and an art-form.

    AD - RtR/OS! (88245d)

  33. So, in short, we’re completely screwed? Swell.

    radar (3b364d)

  34. The example of Italy is well described in an essay by Theodore Dalrymple a few years ago.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  35. In his book The Way the World Works, Jude Wanniski showed, in careful detail, how the the day-by-day movement of stock prices in October 1929 could be directly correlated with the day-by-day prospects of the Smoot-Hawley tariff act being debated in Congress. Just saying.

    Official Internet Data Office (0a4bf0)

  36. I think the problem that the Dems are going to run into right away is that the AMA and hospital lobby might look at the manager’s amendment and decide to come out against the bill. The manager’s amendment basically imposes the planned 21% cut in provider reimbursement under Medicare that is scheduled to go into effect in 2010.

    In addition, between now and Monday, Governors from every state other than Nebraska are going to ask for their state to get the same treatment as Nebraska. That will force the final bill to be re-scored by CBO, and that might just give cover to someone like Webb, who is a deficit hawk and probably doesn’t want to vote for the Medicare cuts in this bill, to change his mind.

    Same goes for Lieberman. If that goody for Nelson begins to be extended to other states, then Lieberman is right back where he was with the expansion of Medicare to 55-64 age group – a huge increase in federal tax outlays for Medicaid.

    WLS Shipwrecked (3d3fb8)

  37. Gee, those stock traders were pretty smart, making bets against the future worth of companies?

    The events of Oct’29 were a relatively mild economic setback – the beginning of a recession, so to speak.
    It took the interventions of Congress, and the Two White House’s (Hoover & FDR), plus the incompetence of the Fed, to turn a recession into a depression.
    That, plus FDR’s bone-headed social policies of the mid-30’s gave the country a depression within a depression (37-38) and The Great Depression.

    AD - RtR/OS! (88245d)

  38. If Webb were a deficit hawk there would be no question but that he would be voting no. He’s as much a low-rent skeezey whore coward as the rest of the U.S. senate I think.

    happyfeet (2c63dd)

  39. Interesting news from Politico: Rep. Bart Stupak has apparently referred to the Senate language on abortion as “unacceptable.” When this monstrosity gets to conference, will we finally see the abortion showdown between the NARAL representatives and the Pro-life representatives? Maybe the only hope of sinking this bill now is to taunt the liberals that they (1) do not have a public option, (2) are still going to leave 23 million eligible residents uninsured (meaning that the whole “universal” thing is non-operative), (3) are sending billions of dollars to the “evil” private insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and (4) are forcing women to purchase abortion apart from health insurance and without any federal help. It’s a long-shot, but maybe some lefties will decide that principle dictates they vote against this mess.

    JVW (0fe413)

  40. JVW – to which pro-life members do you refer? The ones that don’t stand a snowballs chance in hell of being named to the conference? This will be the most rigged conference in U.S. history. The bill that comes out will be very close to the on the House passed. Only the most liberal and trusted (by the Dem leadership) members will allowed in the room.

    WLS – the first thing done in conference is the placement of a public option. Who cares if a “principled” “moderate” Dem peels off? They only need 50 for approval. No amendments, take it or leave it. Ten Dems can run for cover.

    Ed from SFV (1333b1)

  41. Ed, you are right that none of the pro-life Democrats will be named to conference, but the entire House will still have to vote on the conference report and it will be interesting to see how many of Stupak’s group vote their principles and deliver a decisive “no.”

    JVW (0fe413)

  42. He is a whore on the level of a Landreau, and all the world knows it.

    Patricia (b05e7f)

  43. “WLS – the first thing done in conference is the placement of a public option. Who cares if a “principled” “moderate” Dem peels off? They only need 50 for approval. No amendments, take it or leave it. Ten Dems can run for cover.”

    A public option can also come separately in reconciliation — no need for 60 votes.

    imdw (7c85b9)

  44. imdw asks (#24 — 12/19/2009 @ 11:17 am): “[H]asn’t [the threat to Offutt AFB] been denied all around?”

    Nelson and the White House have indeed denied it, and Obama’s apologists have likewise pooh-poohed it. (E.g., here.) I simply do not believe them. Nor does Michael Goldfarb, who originally reported the threat. And I’ve seen nothing to suggest that the 20 GOP senators who’ve asked for an investigation into the threat have withdrawn that request; as Goldfarb notes,

    each is presumably pretty well sourced in the Senate. If the charges are “absolutely false,” maybe the White House will encourage Senate Democrats to call this Republican bluff. I won’t hold my breath.

    Beldar (e296b5)

  45. Who gets to define “substantive”? Has he simply been told what the bill says or did he read it? It should be easy for him to cite substantive changes if we can get the bill read end to end. And the delay might help some waverers. But reasoning like this is beyond loser McConnell.

    {^_^}

    JD (847e52)

  46. “I simply do not believe them.”

    yeah it really is that simple. I do like Goldfarb’s reasoning.

    imdw (cd4b7a)


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