Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Blanche Balks at Reconciliation

Unless Blanche Lincoln has more up her sleeve, I guess we can assume this is her big announcement:
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) will oppose Dem efforts to move health care legislation through Congress using budget reconciliation, hurting Dems' chances for using the controversial parliamentary maneuver to pass a reform bill.

"I am opposed to and will fight against any attempts to push through changes to the Senate health insurance reform legislation by using budget reconciliation tactics that would allow the Senate to pass a package of changes to our original bill with 51 votes," Lincoln said in a statement on Tuesday. "I have successfully fought for transparency throughout Senate deliberations on health care, and I will continue to do so."

"I will not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes to health insurance reform issues through budget reconciliation, and neither will Arkansans. We have worked too long and too hard on this reform effort - we need to get it right," she said.
I have to have a little chuckle at her claim she successfully fought for transparency, did she do that on CSPAN?   I might have missed that.   Lincoln's vote for the Senate health care bill has her in trouble with her fellow Arkansans, a point not lost on the powers that be in the DSCC who have been rumored to be pressuring her to retire.  Earlier today she announced  she had over $5 million on hand in her campaign coffers.  Lincoln appears to be posturing here hoping to convince her constituents she gets the message while sending a message to Democrats they won't be getting rid of her that easily.

Lincoln's announcement confirms rumors Democrats continue to pursue alternate paths to health care legislation despite a clear message from voters in Massachusetts to put the brakes on.  If Democrats were to attempt reconciliation the bill would either need to be pared down to strictly budgets items such as tax increases or medicaid cuts in order to bypass the need for 60 votes.  This would leave the bill finally passed full of holes that would fail to meet the intended purpose of the legislation.  There is no budgetary effect to a health insurance mandate, for example, which would be challenged endlessly as inappropriate for inclusion in a budgetary procedure.

If Democrats were able to trim down the bill only to its budgetary elements, Lincoln's vote would not be necessary since the procedure requires only 51 votes.  Perhaps she is signaling the abandonment of the reform by other key moderates such as Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson.  Still, voters in their home states are already well aware their Senators voted for the unpopular reform.  Much of this appears to be political theater though we should give some kudos for the transparency of their efforts.  Exit stage right...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Web Analytics