"Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid, said that Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, the lone Republican on the Finance Committee to vote in favor of the bill, would be invited to future sessions. And Mr. Manley said the Democratic leader was prepared to go to substantial lengths to keep Ms. Snowe’s support."[emphasis added.]
Here's what this means. So, the health care bill has been voted out of both the Senate Fiance Committee and the HELP Committee. Now it goes into a super secret phase in which wimpy Harry Reid, shitfacey Max Baucus, questionable-at-best Chris Dodd, and the PhRMA-loving White House are all gonna sit in a sauna, naked, counting their money until New Year's Eve, at which point the country will be told "we have to pass a bill quickly!" and we'll get some real weak-ass sauce called "reform."
BUT NOW it turns out that Olympia Snowe, who overthrew the elected government of the US in a bloodless coup earlier this month, will also be sitting in on these circles jerk sesh-es. For analysis of what that means for YOU, the angry, progressive, blog-reading stoner (probably!), let's turn to Ezra Klein, who blogs for literally 23.5 hours every day. Word has it he only stops to mainline that 6-hour energy stuff and then sing "You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings" to a poster of Peter Orszag. Ez-dog writes:
"This shifts the room's balance of power substantially: The negotiations were previously confined to one liberal Democrat and one centrist Democrat. Now they'll be between one liberal Democrat, one centrist Democrat, and one moderate Republican. In practice, this is likely to mean that Baucus will have something of a trump card against Dodd. If there's a particularly thorny dispute, and Snowe weighs in strongly alongside Baucus, it's hard to imagine Reid siding with Dodd, except in the most extraordinary of cases."
In words more appropriate for this blog: three fucks you can't trust just included a new fuck who's worse than all of them. Perfect!
In what should come as a surprise to nobody, FireDogLake is just goin' NUTS about this. Jon Walker from FDL has started calling Snowe, "The Empress."
"I know many on the left have taken to calling Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, President Snowe. This has been in response to the Democratic party leadership willingness to do almost anything to gain/keep Snowe’s support for health care reform. Frankly, this does not fully encompass just how much power has been handed over to Snowe.
After all, many presidents (Nixon, Clinton, Truman, Johnson) have tried and failed to get the health care bill they wanted passed the United States Senate. Snowe is basically being told that she can write whatever health care bill she wants. This is more say than has been offered to any president in the past 100 years.
Her sway on the issue of health care reform is closer to that of absolute monarch than of any American president in history. I think Empress Snowe more properly summarizes how completely some in the Democratic leadership are prepared to defer to her."
Also worth briefly mentioning is a bit of boring Parliamentary procedure that makes this sauna fuck-fest so important. Once the Finance bill and the HELP bill get combined in this closed-door meeting, it will take 60 votes on the floor of the Senate to either add or subtract any amendments to or from the new bill. THAT MEANS, in essence, that whatever comes out of the meeting is what the Senate bill will ultimately look like. It's in all likelihood going to be impossible to add a public option amendment to the bill if it doesn't have one. By the same token, if a public option is in the bill, it will not be removed.
What it comes down to is that supporters of the Public Option are now relying on the repulsive Harry Reid to act as their advocate for the most important domestic reform since the Voting Rights Act. Shudder. Already, colleagues are placing the responsibility squarely on Reid. Chuck Shumer was on Maddow last night, and he had this to say [via FDL]:
"Well, first leader Reid has the option of putting [the public option] in the final bill. If he puts it in the final bill, in the combined bill, then you would need 60 votes to remove it, and there are clearly not 60 votes against the public option. And so we’re urging him to do that, and he is seriously considering it. Once it passes the Senate, if that were to happen, it is in the House bill, it is in the Senate bill, and it would have to be in the final product. So, it is very important to see if the public option is in the bill leader Reid puts together. He hasn’t yet made up his mind, but many of us who believe in the public option are urging him to do so. So far, we are getting heard."
Before you get ahead of yourselves, though, Reid and Whores may very well include a "public option" with a "trigger," which, as I've written before, is not a public option. Jonathon Cohn, who writes for the retardo-zine The New Republic, sees this option as quite likely. He writes:
"The most likely scenario, I continue to think, is to arrive at some sort of trigger. But a well-designed trigger might still do some good. The key is designing one that would actually scare insurers, enough to make them provide the kind of affordable coverage we all want."
He is wrong. That outcome will scare nobody--nobody, that is, except future progressive politicians who want to enact reform. The triggers are worse than useless, as Empress Snowe, Rahm the Knife Murderer, and everybody else knows. They will insure that insurance companies profits will continue to rise, as the quality of health care goes down.
One thing we can know for sure is that this latest development--of including Snowe in the meeting--is bad, bad, bad.