Democrats should be ashamed of pork-laden health care reform 

As families across our nation prepared to celebrate Christmas, Democrats in the U.S. Senate and their ringleader, Harry Reid, were deviously busy. They worked hard to fill taxpayers’ stockings with large lumps of coal in the form of health care reform that will likely decrease the quality of care, create a flurry of new taxes and exponentially increase the deficit. How’s that for holiday cheer?

While Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., appeared to be holding out as the 60th vote because of his moral concerns about taxpayer-funded abortions, he suddenly “found the light” when offered $100 million in assistance for Nebraska’s Medicaid program.

This new provision, negotiated by Reid and Nelson, will make Nebraska one of only three states to have its Medicaid expansion fully funded, leaving the rest of the country to pick up the tab. This compromising carrot is made all the more disturbing by the cost to the American taxpayer. The Congressional Budget Office said last week the amendment alone will end up costing $1.2 billion in a 10-year span — hardly chump change.

And in a less obvious bribe, Nelson also cut a deal to get tax and fee breaks for Nebraska insurance companies. (Not surprisingly, the Center for Responsible Politics reported that Nelson has received nearly $650,000 from insurance companies in the past five years.) These negotiated breaks are significant, saving companies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield up to $20 million. In other words, even as more tax money will be flowing into Nebraska, considerably less will be flowing out. For all other states, a bad bill just got that much worse.

But as I wrote just a few weeks ago, a cause for concern in this debate is not only the “what” of the legislation, it’s the “how” we got here. When this debate headed to the Senate after the left-wing-led House pushed through its own version of reform, Reid faced an uphill battle in finding the necessary 60 votes. But rather than relying on the actual merits of the legislation — if any such merits actually exist — the Senate’s fearless leader opened the troughs for a pork feeding frenzy.

Now, I am not naive in this criticism, fully recognizing that when placed in a similar position of power, Republicans in Congress have been guilty of similar activities. Today in Washington, D.C., it seems that bribery by tax dollars has become the norm when moving bills along. But for us taxpayers, that’s simply not acceptable.

Where’s the transparency, good governance and integrity we were promised? Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama should be ashamed that they let petty bribes and penny-pinching politics triumph over sense and judgment. How’s that for the true meaning of Christmas?

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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