By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
It hasn't been pretty today. It's all coming out, the deal-making by Democrats trying to secure the 60 votes needed to move their healthcare bill forward in the Senate last night. The Hill newspaper reports on some of the goodies, including $300 million in extra funding for Sen. Landrieu's home state of Louisiana, and millions in extra Medicaid dollars for Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson.
On Good Morning America this morning, Sen. John McCain was asked why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was trading so much money for so few votes: "Because they [Senate Democrats] haven't got the American public ... 60 percent of the American people are against this. They want it stopped and they certainly—as they find out more about this unsavory process we've been through, the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, the Florida FlimFlam and all of the other kinds of dealing that went on—they'll find it very distasteful." Earlier, on Fox News Sunday yesterday, McCain said that by not going in a more moderate, bipartisan way with Republicans, Democrats were down to the wire, buying the votes of lawmakers within their own party. "That's why they're in the position of having to buy the last voter," he told Chris Wallace.
He's got a point. An ABC News/Washington Post poll confirms how unpopular the bill is, and one of the most interesting findings is that two-thirds of those polled think the legislation will increase the federal budget deficit—something 43 percent said was "not worth it." Taxpayers may want some form of healthcare reform, but at what cost?
I just don't think anyone has a good feeling about this—not only about all the deal-making and special treatment in exchange for votes, but about the legislation itself. It's been very confusing and not very many people can tell you what's in the bill and what's not. Yet when White House Advisor David Axelrod was asked about the polls on Meet the Press yesterday, he said, "What I suggest is that you guys wait until next October to talk about polls, when they're actually germane to an election, because that's an eternity away." What Axelrod is saying is that the only polls that count are the ones held on Election Day, and by raising the stakes and predicting that the Democrats will prevail in the 2010 mid-terms—which he did in that interview—he's making the same bet that Republicans are. Which is why not one Republican voted for this. Republicans in the Senate think the American people are with them as they try to slow this massive spending down, and I think they might be right.