We’ve had our policy differences with Sen. Olympia Snowe, the centrist Maine Republican who voted in October with the Democrats to clear Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus’s healthcare bill out of committee. Baucus’s bill was unifinished and expensive (to the tune of nearly $900 billion), but it’s starting to look good compared to the monstrosity that Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to coax 60 votes for–and Sen. Snowe is starting to look good, too. In fact, the Wall Street Journal is giving her kudos for a speech she gave right before Thanksgiving decrying the idea of trying to railroad massive legislation through the Senate on a single-vote margin:
“Policies that will affect more than 300 million people simply should not be decided by partisan, one-vote-margin strategies,” Senator Snowe explained, and Congress should not be “railroading solutions along partisan lines.”
Right now President Obama is wooing Snowe’s vote, and so is Reid, so we hope she sticks to her principles. Not only is she right–the health bill is not only divisive but is now opposed by a clear majority of Americans–but it’s a steel trap that will imprison the prospects of generations of Americans who must pay for it.
The Journal continues:
The bill’s main problem isn’t its abortion provision or even the debate over the “public option” that Democrats will probably settle with an inartful dodge. The problem is the core of the bill: more than $400 billion in new taxes and a half-trillion dollars in Medicare cuts to pay for a vast new entitlement that is certain to increase the cost of insurance, reduce the quality of medical care and ruin the federal fisc. This is the reason Democrats have no chance of winning over Orrin Hatch, Bob Bennett, Judd Gregg, Chuck Grassley, Susan Collins, John McCain, Mike Enzi or other Republicans who have cooperated with Democrats on health care and other issues in the past.
Republican amendments on the Senate floor have tried to strip out these core elements, and so far Mrs. Snowe and Democrats Ben Nelson (Nebraska) and Jim Webb (Virginia) have voted with the GOP. Yet Democrats nonetheless want them to vote to provide the 60 votes needed to pass the manager’s amendment that Mr. Reid will spring at some point that will scale back none of these destructive flaws.
The only way that Mrs. Snowe and the diffident Democratic caucus of Messrs. Nelson and Webb, Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman and maybe Evan Bayh can vote for a truly bipartisan bill is by first defeating this version. Then the leadership and the President would have to return to basics and forge a genuine compromise that works from the center out and gets 10 or 20 Republicans. Such an outcome is certainly possible and was considered likely last winter before Mr. Obama outsourced health care to the most ideological elements of his party.
Please hold out against the presidential blandishments, Sen. Snowe–so that you and your fellow Republicans–along with the moderate Democrats can go back to square one and work out a reform plan that will genuinely ensure affordable care to most Americans without cheating our senior citizens or turning their grandchildren and great-grandchildren into the tax slaves of the government.