Doing this with Christmas right around the corner is sad beyond words. Look at the latest.
With the bill hanging in the balance, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) won a provision exempting his state from paying the usual share of costs for new Medicaid patients. The deal, which critics have dubbed the “Cornhusker Kickback,” is expected to cost the federal government $100 million over 10 years. Before a close vote last month, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) won an even larger break for her state — an estimated $300 million in extra federal spending, in a move now derisively called the “Louisiana Purchase.” Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) made sure that certain insurance companies in his state are off the hook from a new $7 billion dollar tax. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) got his kickback — a $100 million bonus for the University of Connecticut… to do with whatever they want. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) was “persuaded” to drop his concerns after Senator Reid offered his state a $10 billion grant for “community health centers”-money that could easily be funneled to facilities that perform abortions. Three states — Pennsylvania, New York and Florida — all won protections for their Medicare Advantage beneficiaries at a time when the program is facing cuts nationwide. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) won a promise from Reid to support his plan to expand eligibility for health insurance. The Senators from Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming will get the “Frontier Freebie” — they’ll see an increase in Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors, because “at least 50 percent of their counties are ‘frontier counties,’ defined as those having a population density less than six people per square mile.” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate health committee, got a provision inserted to increase Medicare payments to certain “low-volume hospitals” in Grinnell, Keokuk and Spirit Lake, treating limited numbers of Medicare patients. Even the Democrats themselves are starting to complain about this obvious “Cash for Cloture” bribing going on. When Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) couldn’t get past the reporters swarming Ben Nelson on her way to the cloture vote, she quipped, “I know I’m not as important as Senator Nelson. I didn’t get the money for my state. I was too stupid.”