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Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Legislative Lessons of Health Care Reform

Joe Lieberman got his way and not only was the public option removed but so to was the lowered eligibility for Medicare. What's not reported quite as much was the multi hundred million dollars that Lieberman negotiated for the University of Connecticut along with his fellow Senator from Connecticut Chris Dodd.

Mary Landrieu was able to negotiate $300 million in federal aid from the health care bill. Here's how Landrieu described her vote.

It’s not $100 million, it’s $300 million, and I’m proud of it and will keep fighting for it,” she told reporters after a floor speech announcing her support of a vote to begin debate on health care reform.

Meanwhile, Bill Nelson of Florida was able to win this concession.

a provision he said will let about 800,000 Florida seniors enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans keep their extra benefits

Why, just a week earlier, Bill Nelson was on Greta telling the public that this bill was essentially a non starter.

We all know about the concessions that Ben Nelson won.

What do all of these people have in common? They all held out their yes votes until the end. Mind you, they aren't the only ones to get concessions for their home states, but nearly each and every Senator that got one made it known at one time that their vote wasn't decided.

What did my Senator, Dick Durbin, get? Nothing, that's what. Then again, Durbin's vote was never in doubt. We call this horse trading but that word doesn't nearly describe the ugliness of the process.

So, the lesson is hold out. Then, you can get stuff. In the House, the only hold out left is Bart Stupak. He's holding out for stronger anti abortion language. Then again, so was Ben Nelson. Suddenly, he got an exemption for his home state and the anti abortion language wasn't as important.

The deal makers are those who's votes are in doubt. They make the rules, and in this Congress, that also means they get free stuff for their states. That appears to be the lesson.

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