Healthcare

Christmas Blues

The United States Senate is marching toward history this week, but not the kind they will welcome once the dust settles from the fallout of the healthcare reform debate. There are so many political favors buried in this bill that reporters simply don’t have the time to uncover them all.

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'Nothing sleazy about it'

Remember Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb.) concerns over abortion? That he almost opposed healthcare reform over it? With a compromise cut on that thorny issue, Nelson has far bigger problems on his plate now.

The backroom dealing that normally seals huge bills has backfired and become a huge story. The permanent exemption from Medicaid expansion Nelson received for Nebraska has cast the spotlight back on him, just when he was finally ready to relinquish it.

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Truth or consequences: The lobbyists win, the people lose

Let me begin and end this otherwise negative comment with some good news. While the president will do nothing to fight for a better healthcare bill in conference, there are sign that Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are feeling some heat after taking a beating from the press. The conference battle now begins, and while the president will be the legislative bystander he has been so far, House Democrats will weight in, and if they fight, they can win something back.

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George Carlin and the ‘better-than-nothing future’

Remember the late George Carlin's routine where the Hippie Dippy Weatherman reports that radar pinpoints a line of thundershowers? He goes on to say that radar also shows Russian missiles heading our way, "So don't sweat the thundershowers.”

This is similar. There are urgent predictions that unless there is meaningful healthcare reform, the nation will soon face a medical emergency.

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Playing healthcare poker

Reportedly, President Barack Obama was a canny poker player when he served in the Illinois state Senate. And it looks like those skills came in handy as he tried to win a big healthcare pot at the end of this session of Congress. But throughout this process, the president and his team have made several common poker-playing mistakes that have complicated the legislative process and made his seeming victory much less valuable than it might have been. Having played a few hands of poker myself, I recognize some of those mistakes. Indeed, I have made many of them myself. Here are a few of them.

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Snowed under

For an old-timer like me, the snow that blanketed the D.C. region was a beauty to behold. It brought back memories of snowball fights and snowmen and sledding in the days of my youth.

My 3-year-old son, on the other hand, hated the snow. He doesn’t like to be cold, and while he liked the snow to look at through the window, he hated the idea of going outside.

It made for a long weekend, me wanting to go outside and recapture my youth, and him wanting to stay inside and keep warm.

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Healthcare: Bonnie and Clyde go to conference

The Senate has now entered the age of extortion, blackmail and what can only be called legislative racketeering. Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who often talk about the budget deficit, have become the Bonnie and Clyde of the Senate, bartering their vote for payoffs that, of course, increase the deficit at taxpayer expense.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) should be removed as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. Every Democrat throughout the nation represented by a Democratic senator should contact that member and urge a vote to remove Lieberman as chairman.

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Lieberman, Lanny and friends

Fellow blogger, columnist and friend Lanny Davis wrote me yesterday to take issue with my column on Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). 
 
The same day I was writing my column on Joe, Lanny was writing his own about the "hateful, suicidal impulses of the Democratic hard left," and pointed out that a "hypocritical silence" followed Lieberman's opposition to a Medicare expansion when numerous liberal senators including Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Minnesota Democratic Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar all signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) expressing concerns over a Medicare buy-in since it did not provide for adequate reimbursement rates. 

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Roadblocks to passage

The chances of healthcare reform passing before Christmas are now dimming as Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) recedes from the spotlight and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) returns to it.

Nelson's concerns over the legislation providing for federal funds to be spent on abortion remain the final key hurdle, and any day lost to negotiations increases the likelihood that the bill is a goner in 2009.

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Howard Dean versus the White House

Things are getting hot between Howard Dean, who has called for the defeat of the pending Senate healthcare bill, and the White House, which is very angry with Dean. Here is my take:

I completely agree with Howard Dean about the Senate bill. This has now become an embarrassment for the Democratic Party and the president, who have been neutered by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

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