Whac-A-Mole: Dems' Health Care Bill Chock Full Of Payoffs, Kickbacks & Sweetheart Deals
Democrats Pile On Even More Vote-Buying Giveaways To Grease The Skids For Their Government Takeover Of Health Care
Democratic leaders’ efforts to achieve a government takeover of health care have been a clinic in dirty politics and pliable principles. Open Process? Yeah right. Deadlines? Blown through. Up-or-down vote? Nah, the “Slaughter Solution” will do. But nothing in this unseemly march to a vote has Americans more outraged than the payoffs, kickbacks, and sweetheart deals that wavering Democrats have been able to slip into the massive bill. The President said he understood the anger and would have them all removed. Then he backtracked. And yesterday with the final text released, we saw why.
While the Cornhusker Kickback got “fixed” by misguidedly expanding it to every state, the latest version of a government takeover of health care is still chock full of payoffs, kickbacks, and sweetheart deals for key members of Congress:
• Rocky Top Vote Swap – As one kickback dies, another is born. Tennessee is quite familiar with the runaway costs associated with government-run health care, and members of the House delegation and even the state’s Democratic governor have been concerned about how the Democrats’ government takeover of health care will burden the state. But payoffs from Washington have a way of smoothing things over, so the bill includes tens of millions of extra Medicaid dollars for the state to help assuage nervous Tennessee Dems like Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN).
• BigSky Buyoff – Must be nice being Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. A special provision was inserted in the Senate bill last year that provided taxpayer-funded health care to only certain Montana residents. Even though the President once said the special deals in the health care bills should be removed, for some reason – perhaps to keep Sen. Baucus (D-MT) happy – this one got to stick around.
• U-Con – As part of the original health care bill, a mysterious provision was inserted providing a whopping $100,000,000 in a cryptically word provision for a new medical facility. After some investigation, it was discovered that Connecticut was the lucky recipient of this taxpayer giveaway. Senator Dodd must have serious pull because it remains in the final bill.
• Bismarck Bank Job – With the North Dakota House delegation on the fence over the bill, a helpful provision was inserted in the reconciliation package. While most American banks will be cut off from subsidies for private student loans (as part of the government takeover of the student lending industry attached to the bill), banks in Rep. Earl Pomeroy’s (D-ND) state will still see the cash rolling into its banks.
• PhRMA-ing For Favors – As has been reported, Democratic staffers were huddled behind closed doors over the last few weeks with PhRMA lobbyists as they crafted the final bill. Not so coincidentally, PhRMA has now decided it will run expensive television ads in the districts of 38 wavering Democrats. That type of apparent quid pro quo is about as ugly as political payoffs get.
• Cowboy Cash – Power pays off in the Senate, as Senate Chairmen Conrad and Baucus from North Dakota and Montana, respectively, pulled off a sweet deal for their region. These two states, along with Wyoming and South Dakota stand to get extra federal cash for their states Medicare rolls.
• Louisiana Purchase – The opening bid of the Senate sweetheart deals was a provision inserted to win over a particular Senator from down on the Bayou, Mary Landrieu (D-LA). The Louisiana Purchase – sending $300 million in extra Medicaid payments to the state – was the first carve out we learned of, and it appears it made the final cut.
Speaker Pelosi has announced that, despite her pledge to have the bill available 72 hours before the vote, she will offer a “manager’s amendment” soon. Will the Speaker use this as a vehicle to add even more payoffs, kickbacks, and sweetheart deals to the bill in an attempt to win over the last few votes for a government takeover of health care? And will she make her members walk the plank to support them?