The Senate’s version of Obamacare was passed by the House on Sunday and signed into law by President Obama today. Now the action has shifted to the Senate, which will consider the package of amendments that the House adopted after passing the Senate bill.
The House’s amendments are ostensibly intended to do away with some of the most notorious defects in the current law, e.g., the Cornhusker Kickback, although many believe that in total, the House amendments make the bill even worse. Still, some have wondered how Republicans can vote against a reconciliation bill which is widely perceived as removing the worst elements of Democratic Party corruption from the law.
We started to see the answer today, as Republicans proposed a series of amendments and made motions that were designed to expose the corruption at the heart of the Democratic Party’s legislation. Thus, John McCain offered an amendment that would strike all “sweetheart deals” from the law:
The amendment repeals the following “sweetheart deals” included in the health care law and the reconciliation bill:
1. Increase in Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments just for Tennessee (Section 1203, page 71 of H.R. 4872);
2. Increase in Medicaid DSH payments just for Hawaii (Section 10201, page 2132 of H.R. 3590);
3. The “Louisiana Purchase” to increase Medicaid funding just for Louisiana (Section 2006, page 428 of H.R. 3590);
4. Increased Medicare reimbursement just for frontier states (Section 10324, page 2237 of H.R. 3590);
5. Medicare coverage just for Libby, Montana residents exposed to environmental hazards (Section 10323, page 2222 of H.R. 3590);
6. A $100 million hospital funding provision intended to benefit Connecticut (Section 10502, page 2354 of H.R. 3590); and
7. Extension of Section 508 hospital reimbursement provisions just to Michigan and Connecticut (Section 10905, pages 2205-06 of H.R. 3590)
Senator Judd Gregg offered an amendment that highlights Obama’s double-counting of alleged Medicare savings. His amendment would prohibit the government from using the Medicare cuts in Obamacare to pay for new spending in the underlying bill. Rather, those cuts would have to be used (as the administration has inconsistently promised) to extend the life of Medicare.
Senator Mike Crapo will offer my favorite motion–to commit the reconciliation bill to the Senate Finance Committee with instructions to ensure that the bill will not result in tax increases for anyone earning under $250,000 a year, as promised by Obama. The Democrats can’t agree to this, of course, since everyone knows Obamacare will increase taxes much more broadly.
Other such amendments and motions are also being offered. Once the Democrats have refused to hear them or voted them down, one hopes that the Republicans will vote unanimously against the reconciliation package as one more stinking mess of Democratic Party corruption.