Mary Landrieu withheld her support of the Senate’s Obamacare bill until the bill was modified to secure some $300 million in Medicaid funding for Louisiana. The arrangement under which the modification made its way into the bill became known instantly as the Louisiana purchase.
ABC News originally reported that the modification had been made to the bill to secure Landrieu’s support for the Senate’s Obamacare bill. Landrieu denied that the modification represented a deal to secure her support of the bill, but no one was persuaded by it. Dana Milbank, for example, mocked Landrieu at the time in the Washington Post:
On the eve of Saturday’s showdown in the Senate over health-care reform, Democratic leaders still hadn’t secured the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of the 60 votes needed to keep the legislation alive. The wavering lawmaker was offered a sweetener: at least $100 million in extra federal money for her home state.
And so it came to pass that Landrieu walked onto the Senate floor midafternoon Saturday to announce her aye vote — and to trumpet the financial “fix” she had arranged for Louisiana. “I am not going to be defensive,” she declared. “And it’s not a $100 million fix. It’s a $300 million fix.”
Last week Landrieu took to the floor of the Senate to mount a weepy 25-minute defense of the deal. The text of her speech is here; the video is above. Politics Daily provides a good summary quoting its key points:
“The fact that this was secret is a lie,” she said. “The fact that this wasn’t supported by our delegation is also a lie.”
She slammed other members of the Louisiana delegation who have not advocated for the measure publicly since Landrieu came under fire for it.
“Never, never in my life have I ever, or will I ever, throw the people of my state under a bus to save my reputation or my job,” she said. “I know what I am inside. I don’t need anyone to remind me of the goodness I have inside…I don’t need this job badly enough — maybe some people do, I don’t — to throw the people of my state under the bus to protect myself politically.”
She also took what seemed to be a swipe at Jindal, who has spoken of Louisiana’s Medicaid formula only once since the Senate health care vote and ensuing firestorm.
“Being in public office takes more than being intelligent, it takes more than a fancy resume, it takes guts,” she said. “Some people have more of those than others.”
Finally, Landrieu challenged any senator, Democrat or Republican, to go to the Senate floor to publicly voice their objections to the measure rather than criticize her in the press. “If they don’t come, then I would hope they will keep their mouths shut about something they know nothing about.”
One must review Landrieu’s speech in its entirety to understand that it consists from beginning to end of straw men. The charge leveled against her by critics of the Louisiana Purchase is that Landrieu made the deal in exchange for her vote. She denies that she did, but she offers no evidence to support her assertion.
Instead she cites evidence that the substance of the provision had been sought in public by Governor Jindal and the Louisiana congressional delegation over the past year. Has anyone asserted that the Medicaid fix sought by Louisiana was sought in private? Answer: No.
She defends the people of Louisiana. The people of Louisiana deserve a better Senator than Mary Landrieu. Has anyone attacked the people of Louisiana? Answer: No.
She defends the insertion of the provision into the Senate’s Obamacare bill on the ground that it was germane to the bill. A grateful nation thanks Senator Landrieu for clearing up that point of procedure.
She attacks Governor Jindal as a coward for not coming to her defense. Why should he? Governor Jindal opposes Obamacare. Did Governor Jindal ask Senator Landrieu to insert the Louisiana Medicaid provision in the Obamacare bill. Answer: No.
She valiantly asserts that she will not throw the people of her state under the bus, but she isn’t so chivalrous about the governor of her state. Will she throw him under the bus? Answer: Yes.
She says that she will explain the reason for her vote in favor of the Senate’s Obamacare bill. Does she get around to the explanation in the course of her 25-minute speech? Answer: No.
She says that the provision does not just affect the state of Louisiana. When Tennessee gets hit by an earthquake at some time in the indefinite future, it will also serve Tennessee.
She vouches for her own goodness: “I know what I am inside. I don’t need anyone to remind me of the goodness that I have inside. My parents do that, my husband does that, my children do that for me every day.” What was missing from this little affirmation? Senator Franken must have forgotten to tell her to add: “And doggone it, people like me.”