Commentary Magazine


Topic: leadership aide

Blowing Up ReidCare

It’s out. It was in, and everyone tried to keep a straight face for several days. But Sens. Joe Lieberman, Bill Nelson, and Ben Nelson would not play along. So the Medicare buy-in may is getting yanked as quickly as it was inserted into the madcap race for a health-care deal, any deal. The New York Times reports:

After a tense 90-minute meeting on Monday evening, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Finance Committee, was asked if Democrats were likely to jettison the Medicare proposal. “It’s looking like that’s the case,” Mr. Baucus said, indicating that the provision might be scrapped as a way of “getting support from 60 senators.”

So another harebrained Harry Reid scheme implodes. But what do they want to pass now? After all “not the public option” and “not Medicare buy-in” are not exactly the stuff of legislation. They need, because a few centrists insist on it, something that is semi-coherent and that actually might allow the Democrats to face the voters, who currently disfavor ObamaCare by a huge margin.

Really, what’s left after they take out the public option and the Medicare buy-in? A GOP leadership aide put it this way: “$500 billion in Medicare cuts, $400 billion in tax increases, raises premiums, raises costs, onerous regulations, individual mandates, employer mandate,  and expensive subsidies.” So what’s not to like? Well, just about everything. Perhaps, in a moment of clarity, everyone will go home, think this through clearly, and come back with a list of a few discrete reforms that will have bipartisan support. Then they can declare victory. Makes too much sense. Instead the Democratic leadership seems hell-bent on coming up with the umpteenth version of ObamaCare no matter how unpopular it may be with the public and making vulnerable members walk the plank. Seems crazy, huh? It is.

It’s out. It was in, and everyone tried to keep a straight face for several days. But Sens. Joe Lieberman, Bill Nelson, and Ben Nelson would not play along. So the Medicare buy-in may is getting yanked as quickly as it was inserted into the madcap race for a health-care deal, any deal. The New York Times reports:

After a tense 90-minute meeting on Monday evening, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Finance Committee, was asked if Democrats were likely to jettison the Medicare proposal. “It’s looking like that’s the case,” Mr. Baucus said, indicating that the provision might be scrapped as a way of “getting support from 60 senators.”

So another harebrained Harry Reid scheme implodes. But what do they want to pass now? After all “not the public option” and “not Medicare buy-in” are not exactly the stuff of legislation. They need, because a few centrists insist on it, something that is semi-coherent and that actually might allow the Democrats to face the voters, who currently disfavor ObamaCare by a huge margin.

Really, what’s left after they take out the public option and the Medicare buy-in? A GOP leadership aide put it this way: “$500 billion in Medicare cuts, $400 billion in tax increases, raises premiums, raises costs, onerous regulations, individual mandates, employer mandate,  and expensive subsidies.” So what’s not to like? Well, just about everything. Perhaps, in a moment of clarity, everyone will go home, think this through clearly, and come back with a list of a few discrete reforms that will have bipartisan support. Then they can declare victory. Makes too much sense. Instead the Democratic leadership seems hell-bent on coming up with the umpteenth version of ObamaCare no matter how unpopular it may be with the public and making vulnerable members walk the plank. Seems crazy, huh? It is.

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Reid Panics

Harry Reid must be one nervous pol. He concocted a half-baked deal to rescue ObamaCare, spun to the media that there was a “deal” among moderate senators, and is now watching health care — and possibly his career — go up in smoke. Roll Call reports:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) formally notified Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday afternoon that he would filibuster the health care reform bill if it includes a Medicare “buy-in” provision.

Lieberman’s position came as a surprise to Reid, considering the self-described Independent Democrat was among the first people Reid spoke to about the Medicare provision when it was discussed by a Democratic group of centrists and liberals attempting to craft a compromise that could secure the votes of all 60 Members of the Democratic Conference. At the time, Lieberman “voiced support” for the plan, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

Lieberman spokesman Marshall Wittmann strongly disputed the leadership aide’s account.

“The suggestion by an anonymous ‘aide’ that Senator Lieberman ever supported the Medicare buy in proposal is absolutely and totally false. The fact that the ‘aide’ won’t identify him/herself is a testimony that they are telling a deliberate falsehood or he/she is completely confused,” Wittmann said.

It’s rather apparent that the “Senate aide” — almost certainly a Reid aide — is telling a tall tale. Almost as soon as the “deal” was announced, Lieberman voiced his concern about the funding of the plan and his ongoing opposition to any public option. Reid is plainly trying to box Lieberman in, suggesting that the senator from Connecticut and others had bought into a deal, when in fact none existed. And the gambit, like the Medicare buy-in itself, is harebrained and has in effect forced Lieberman to come out in flat opposition to any Medicare “deal.” Note the word “ever.” Lieberman, we now know, never supported Reid’s non-deal on Medicare.

Moreover, one has to marvel at the blind quote (likely from that same office): “It’s all coming down to one guy who’s prepared to vote against the interests of children and families in Connecticut who need health care reform.” No, it seems that Sen. Ben Nelson is opposed to it too. And I suspect that there are many Red State senators who aren’t on board either. But Reid’s fake agreement is evaporating before his eyes, so he’s looking for someone to blame.

Indeed, Reid’s office is now out spinning the New York Times‘s take, which declares Lieberman’s opposition to be “a surprise.” To whom exactly? Once again, unnamed aides say they thought they had a deal. Oh really? What about Lieberman’s statement last week explicitly withholding judgment? Once again, Reid’s ploy is obvious — try to keep the finger in the dam, try to prevent others who never agreed to the Medicare buy-in scam from letting the cat out of the bag, and try to maintain the appearance of momentum. But really, other senators know there was no deal, and they’re hardly going to pretend there was now that both Lieberman and Nelson have blown the whistle on Reid’s chicanery.

But all this just goes to show how quickly ReidCare is unraveling.

Harry Reid must be one nervous pol. He concocted a half-baked deal to rescue ObamaCare, spun to the media that there was a “deal” among moderate senators, and is now watching health care — and possibly his career — go up in smoke. Roll Call reports:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) formally notified Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday afternoon that he would filibuster the health care reform bill if it includes a Medicare “buy-in” provision.

Lieberman’s position came as a surprise to Reid, considering the self-described Independent Democrat was among the first people Reid spoke to about the Medicare provision when it was discussed by a Democratic group of centrists and liberals attempting to craft a compromise that could secure the votes of all 60 Members of the Democratic Conference. At the time, Lieberman “voiced support” for the plan, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

Lieberman spokesman Marshall Wittmann strongly disputed the leadership aide’s account.

“The suggestion by an anonymous ‘aide’ that Senator Lieberman ever supported the Medicare buy in proposal is absolutely and totally false. The fact that the ‘aide’ won’t identify him/herself is a testimony that they are telling a deliberate falsehood or he/she is completely confused,” Wittmann said.

It’s rather apparent that the “Senate aide” — almost certainly a Reid aide — is telling a tall tale. Almost as soon as the “deal” was announced, Lieberman voiced his concern about the funding of the plan and his ongoing opposition to any public option. Reid is plainly trying to box Lieberman in, suggesting that the senator from Connecticut and others had bought into a deal, when in fact none existed. And the gambit, like the Medicare buy-in itself, is harebrained and has in effect forced Lieberman to come out in flat opposition to any Medicare “deal.” Note the word “ever.” Lieberman, we now know, never supported Reid’s non-deal on Medicare.

Moreover, one has to marvel at the blind quote (likely from that same office): “It’s all coming down to one guy who’s prepared to vote against the interests of children and families in Connecticut who need health care reform.” No, it seems that Sen. Ben Nelson is opposed to it too. And I suspect that there are many Red State senators who aren’t on board either. But Reid’s fake agreement is evaporating before his eyes, so he’s looking for someone to blame.

Indeed, Reid’s office is now out spinning the New York Times‘s take, which declares Lieberman’s opposition to be “a surprise.” To whom exactly? Once again, unnamed aides say they thought they had a deal. Oh really? What about Lieberman’s statement last week explicitly withholding judgment? Once again, Reid’s ploy is obvious — try to keep the finger in the dam, try to prevent others who never agreed to the Medicare buy-in scam from letting the cat out of the bag, and try to maintain the appearance of momentum. But really, other senators know there was no deal, and they’re hardly going to pretend there was now that both Lieberman and Nelson have blown the whistle on Reid’s chicanery.

But all this just goes to show how quickly ReidCare is unraveling.

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