Every politician makes campaign promises that everyone knows can’t be kept. One is reminded of George W. Bush’s “Read my lips, no new taxes!” (which, of course, did not pan out to be true.) But constants like Death and Taxes aren’t quite the same thing as other platform policies. When President Obama said that he was going to require transparency in government, we believed him, and the nation elected him. Yet the back door deals march on… and they’re alive and well in the Healthcare bill. President Obama has opposed what he calls the “Cornhusker Kickback,” which requires that the Feds pay for Nebraska’s Medicaid expansion, in exchange for the supporting vote of Ben Nelson, (D, Neb). This is hardly the only special deal in the health care “reform” bill, though.
David Axelrod, senior White House adviser, recently reiterated “The president does believe that state-only carve-outs should not be in the bill.” But “the principle that we want to apply is that are these applicable to all states? Even if they do not qualify now, would they qualify under certain sets of circumstances?” Reading between the phrasing, one gets that there may be other boons for individual states, and that the White House won’t consider them to be Special Deals so long as all states COULD qualify for those benefits.
Amongst other deals proposed are these, found in the Senate’s bill (which passed there):
- Connecticut: $100 million to build a hospital
- Florida seniors keep Medicare Advantage benefits that were cut for seniors everywhere else
- Louisiana: extra Medicaid funding if every county in the state is declared a disaster area.
- Massachusetts: extra Medicaid funding
- Montana: aid for victims of asbestos-related illnesses
- New York seniors keep Medicare Advantage benefits that were cut for seniors everywhere else
- Vermont: extra Medicaid funding
In theory, all of these benefits are worthy; There’s nothing wrong with a new hospital, or care for victims of asbestos illness, additional Medicaid funding, etc. What’s objectionable is that it takes such bribes to ensure the vote of that representative. One would hope the bill would be the right thing for America, as President Obama frequently claims. That being the case, why are individual representatives demanding exclusive concessions in exchange for their vote? Is this indicative of a flaw in the bill, or the greed of those representatives?
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that most of these deals are no longer part of the bill… but that was last week. This week, David Axelrod was less firm. From the President’s efforts to promote the passing of the so-called Health Care Reform bill, we see that he is highly motivated. One can hope that the platform of transparency he campaigned upon will be found in the final Health Care Reform reconciliation bill.