Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Obama and the Benator

As Democrats worked feverishly to stuff Sen. Ben Nelson into his Christmas stocking, the President used his pre-holiday weekly address to hammer health insurer lobbyists and promise voters "the toughest measures we’ve ever taken to hold the insurance industry accountable."

The price for a Nelson this season was high, starting with possible restrictions by the states on abortion coverage and filling the package to the brim with what are delicately described as "other favors for his home state." The man George W. Bush called "the Benator" showed once again why he had rejected "Nellie" as too soft a nickname for his hard-to-buy centrist self.

On cue, the heavens dropped a blanket of snow on DC to cover the legislative wreckage in time for a possible Christmas Eve postcard of bringing health reform home for the holidays.

The final bill, the President promises, will have protections as "just one part of a landmark reform that will finally reduce the cost of health care...

"The insurance industry knows all this. That’s why they’re at it again, using their muscle in Washington to try to block a vote they know they will lose. They’re lobbying. They’re running ads. They’re spending millions of dollars to kill health insurance reform, just like they’ve done so many times before. They want to preserve a system that works better for the insurance industry than it does for the American people."

With all due respect to a President who started out proposing serious reform and for too long watched it being torn apart by Congressional hacks, after the passage of this bill, the system will still work better for the health insurance industry--and the greediest of providers--than it does for the American people.

But consider the holiday toast from Paul Krugman: "By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy. Declare that you’re disappointed in and/or disgusted with President Obama. Demand a change in Senate rules that, combined with the Republican strategy of total obstructionism, are in the process of making America ungovernable. But meanwhile, pass the health care bill."

With an oh-so-heavy heart, have a sip of the egg nog (hoping like hell it has no Kool-Aid in it) and second the motion.

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