So the Finance Committee finally got a version of the health care bill approved. Well, hoo f'ing ray! We, meaning the American people, will now have the pleasure of having our the future of our health care system decided by one person. No, I'm not talking about the person the majority of Americans voted for last November. I'm talking about our new de facto President, Olympia Snowe. I do appreciate Senator Snowe breaking with her party and voting for some version of health care reform. What I do not appreciate is the fact that the bill coming out of the insurance company employee Max Baucus' committee, is without a doubt the weakest of the five bills in Congress.
It has become clear that because of the Snowe endorsement, the weakest of the bills is now the template for any agreement going forward. The Bacus bill is the only one of the five that does not include a public option. The Democrats, who in theory have enough votes to overcome a filibuster, will now bend over backwards to accommodate Senator Snowe. She will be a part of the group that works on merging the two Senate bills and at this point it looks like she will be the most important part. Do you think that a bill containing a public option will make it to the floor of the Senate when keeping the approval of Senator Snowe seems more important to the Democratic leadership than passing an effective bill?
I have no idea how we have come to this point. The last time I checked, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. It seems almost unbelievable to me that the White House would be willing to throw the public option overboard (with no real alternative in sight) for this token appearance of bi-partisanship. Has bi-partisanship somehow replaced effectiveness as the key word for health care reform legislation? In the coming weeks, we will watch as Bacus and Harry Reid bend over backwards in order to placate Senator Snowe. No public option? Sure, Olympia, whatever you want. You want a much larger penalty on those who are too poor to actually afford the high priced insurance that they are now mandated to purchase? Sure. Anything you want. You want to actually make the Bush tax cuts permanent? Sure. We don't need the money anyway.
There can be only one President at a time, according to our Constitution. But I'm not sure that we don't now have two people who now have the power to veto a bill. Senator Snowe may indeed have more power than the guy in the White House, because she gets to veto the bill before it ever gets to his desk.