The Democrats are starting to sweat like a garbanzo bean at a kosher picnic. Just when health care reform seemed inevitable, the death of Senator Kennedy has changed the game at this late hour. House and Senate Democrats along with a certain President Obama are working around the clock to speed this legislation through by uniting the two health reform bills from the Senate and the House.
If the Republicans are able to fill Senator’s Kennedy over-sized former seat, then the health reform bill arrives DOA as the Senate will lose its 60th vote. The fate of health care reform has been left in the hands of people that don’t know how to pronounce words like car or park. People that have perfect the art of the baked bean. Yes I am talking about Boston. A city where a girl once broke my heart, and now can effectively end health care reform. One has to wonder if the people of Massachusetts even know that this bill lies in their hands.
Should the Republicans win the seat, there would only be a window of a day or two to get the bill passed, and even if it would pass, the Democrats would certainly suffer from the public’s wrath for this kind of deal making. That much is certain. There can be no doubt about it, Boston has been given a great power, and of course the irony is that the father of the health reform bill, the great Senator Kennedy is the reason for this late pressure.
Senator Harry Reid claims the negotiations are pretty close to reconciliation while the White House has said that there has been no final agreements or a final package. The next step would be sending the bill to the CBO to examine the costs and extent of coverage, but again the bill has to be agreed upon in these backroom negotiations first, and by only the Democrats who are the only ones debating it.
The election comes the day after the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend – and on the last day of Obama’s first year in office. Snow is forecast for Monday, and many locals head south for warmer weather or north to go skiing during the shortened workweek.
On Friday, Republican and Democratic heavyweights campaigned for both candidates.
At a rally in Boston’s North End, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urged voters to elect Brown for his anti-terror credentials.
“His election, I believe will send a signal – and a very dramatic one – that we’re going in the wrong direction on terrorism,” said Giuliani, who opposes the administration’s decision to have the trial of Sept. 11 terror suspects in New York City.
Former President Bill Clinton was making two appearances in Massachusetts despite his duties as a special envoy to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, another sign of the stakes. “You just have to decide if you want to pick the person who gets to shut America down,” Clinton told voters at one stop.
Sen. John Kerry, recovering from hip replacement surgery, took the stage at one event with the help of Kennedy’s cane. And Kennedy’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, planned to join Coakley at her first canvassing event in Boston on Saturday.
Kennedy, who died Aug. 25 of brain cancer, also was elected to the Senate in a special election on Nov. 6, 1962. He took office the next day, Nov. 7. It was the seat his brother, John F. Kennedy, vacated when he became president in 1961. The Democrats have held the seat since JFK was elected in 1952.
Crazy Ole Senator Nelson
The other thorn in the rear is Senator Nelson’s extortion attempt, which has been criticized by members of his own party, ex Presidents (Clinton), and even angry school children who now officially hate Nebraska. To pacify everyone Obama and Federal lawmakers have decided instead to increase Medicaid federal funding in all states, though where the money would come from is unclear, with many suggesting that it will be soon be time for street begging.
The increase in the Medicaid program is a key element in the bill’s overall goal of expanding health coverage to millions who lack it. The bill also envisions creation of new insurance exchanges, federally regulated marketplaces where consumers can shop for coverage. Individuals and families at lower incomes would receive federal subsidies to defray the cost.
The legislation would curb insurance industry practices such as denial of coverage because of medical problems and charging higher premiums to people in poor health.
At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs was unequivocal that Obama’s effort would prove successful. “As you heard the president say yesterday, we’re going to get health care done,” he said.
Not everyone was quite so certain, particularly given poll results from Massachusetts that showed Republican Scott Brown within reach of an upset over Democrat Martha Coakley in a three-way race.
“If Scott Brown wins, it’ll kill the health bill,” said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, reflecting that the Republican would provide opponents of the health care bill a decisive 41st vote to uphold a filibuster and block passage in the Senate. Frank predicted Coakley would ultimately prevail and thus preserve the essential 60-vote Senate majority. Obama hurriedly scheduled a weekend campaign trip to the state.
Even so, Frank’s remark sent shudders through the ranks of Democrats.
The president called on Congress in his inaugural address a year ago to send him legislation that would remake the health care system, including expansion of coverage, new regulations on industry and unprecedented measures to slow the rise in health care costs generally.
Obama has made an unusual commitment in time and energy to the negotiations at the White House, essentially serving as a referee on key issues that the House and Senate leaders could not resolve.
Beyond that, he was willing to reopen issues where the two bills were identical. One example involved the patent protection that drugmakers would receive for their biotech drugs from generic competitors. The president wants to give generic makers quicker entry into the marketplace, and the pharmaceutical industry’s top lobbyist, former Rep. W.J. Tauzin, sent an e-mail threatening to oppose the legislation if that happened.
Even with an agreement on cost and coverage issues, Obama and congressional Democrats would have to resolve controversy over abortion, coverage of immigrants and other issues before sealing a final compromise.