March 11th, 2010
By MICHAEL TANNER, New York Post
President Obama’s attempts to ram health- care reform through an increasingly reluctant Congress are starting to resemble a really eventful episode of “The Sopranos.”
Whether or not you believe former Rep. Eric Massa’s bizarre accusations of locker-room confrontations and conspiracies to drive him from office, there is no doubt that the Obama administration and its congressional allies are willing to use every trick in the book to get this bill passed.
They’ve already bought votes with pork and special deals — the “Louisiana purchase” ($300 million to bolster that state’s Medicaid program, which swayed Sen. Mary Landrieu); the “Cornhusker kickback” ($100 million to Medicaid there, sweetening the pot for Sen. Ben Nelson), and Florida’s “Gator Aid” (a Medicare deal potentially worth $5 billion, a hefty price for Sen. Bill Nelson’s vote). Plus the millions for Connecticut hospitals, Montana asbestos abatement and so on.
Nor were the Obamans willing to let a little thing like election laws stand in the way. They rewrote Massachusetts law to allow for an appointed senator to hold office for several months, hoping to get the bill through before the special election that Scott Brown ultimately won. Their plans spoiled, they even considered holding up Brown’s seating to let the appointed senator continue to vote on health care — until public outrage forced them to back down.
And, of course, there has been an unprecedented willingness to ignore congressional rules — from the failure to appoint a “conference committee” to negotiate differences between the House and Senate bills, to their current plans to use the reconciliation process to bypass a Republican filibuster.