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What's Ben Nelson up to?

As everyone knows by now, Republicans now have 41 seats in the US Senate, which means that they can sustain a filibuster on issues such as ObamaCare, if they stick together.  And it's this change in Capitol dynamics that has led Democrats to entertain thoughts of trying to pass ObamaCare by getting around the filibuster rule and use what are known as "reconciliation" rules...which would only require a simple majority for passage.

In order for that to happen however, the Democrat leadership would have to get  at least 51 of 59 Democrats go along with the extraordinary measure and, as you can imagine, some of the more "moderate" Democrats are a little skittish about doing anything that blatant - especially since the election results in Massachusetts.

But now comes word that Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson may be thinking about going along with the scheme...

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson has flip-flopped again -- this time saying that he can back the controversial reconciliation process that the Senate may use to railroad the pro-abortion health care bill through the chamber. Nelson first flip-flopped on abortion funding.

Nelson drew the ire of the pro-life movement when he changed his mind on supporting a firm ban on all abortion funding under the bill and compromised with Harry Reid to force some taxpayers to fund abortions. ...

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Democrat leadership to try and push ObamaCare through the House

Here it comes!

In the wake of last week's Senate upset in Massachusetts, Democrats seemed to be backpedaling away from ObamaCare, but yesterday came word from Nancy Pelosi and other leading House Dems that they plan to keep trying.  Their plan is to try and push the Senate's version of health care "reform" through the House (with some changes), and then get the Senate to pass the bill in that chamber with a simple majority vote by using "reconciliation" rules to avoid needing 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said last week she does not
have the votes to pass the Senate bill without changes. Democratic
congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity because the
issue is in flux, said the latest strategy involves using a special
budget procedure to revise the Senate bill.

The procedural
route _ known as reconciliation _ would allow a majority of 51 senators
to amend their bill to address some of the major substantive concerns
raised by the House. That would circumvent the need for a 60-vote
majority to hold off Republican delaying tactics.

In other words, they're going to try and "get around" the rules of the Senate, now that Scott Brown's there.

So why the sudden push?

Paul Krugman Wants Democrats to "Do the Right Thing"

Yes, the Democrat lost that race up in Massachusetts, but that's no excuse for not going full speed ahead and passing Obamacare. That's the message Paul Krugman in sending in his column today.

According to Krugman:

"This is your moment of truth. You can do the right thing and pass the Senate health care bill. Or you can look for an easy way out, make excuses and fail the test of history."

And they can also fail the test of political viability, which is, (I think), the one they are a little more concerned about right now. Krugman further proves he's out on Planet Insanity in declaring:

"The fact is that the Senate bill is a centrist document, which moderate Republicans should find entirely acceptable."

Centrist? One can't help but wonder just where does the "center" appear to be from Krugman's vantage point way out there on the margins...

Krugman also echos Rham Emannuel by suggesting that the House Dems simply have to pass the Senate's version, because that's the only way they can overcome the stigma that would otherwise be attached to them for having voted for it so far and failed to get it passed. (Yes, I know that
doesn't make sense). He says that not passing the bill:

Senate version of health care RAISES the deficit

Not as though this should be a shock to anyone, but over the weekend the government's Chief Actuary for Medicare and Medicaid gave their official estimate of the impact of the Senate's version of health care reform on the government's balance sheet.

The result?  Red ink.  Two-hundred and eighty billion worth over the coming decade.

Via Human Events:

Regarding “Coverage,” CMS estimates that the measure will “reduce the
number of uninsured from 57 million under current law to 23 million”
primarily by increasing eligibility for Medicaid.  What this does is
shift the cost burden from the federal government to cash-short states.
It’s an accounting gimmick, not a cost savings.


78% of Americans think Obamacare will cost more than projected

Although it's easy to get down about the state of things, especially our government, along comes a poll that gives you at least a little faith in the common sense of average Americans.

Via Rasmussen:

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of voters nationwide say it’s at least
somewhat likely that the health care reform legislation working its way
through Congress will cost more than projected. A new Rasmussen Reports
national telephone survey finds that just 14% believe the costs are not
likely to exceed projections.

Eighty-one percent (81%) also think passage of the legislation is at least somewhat likely to lead to higher middle-class taxes.

The survey finds that 68% believe the legislation will
increase the federal budget deficit
. Only 11% say the program will
achieve its stated goal of deficit reduction.

Ronald Reagan once said that a government program was the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this Earth.  You could probably add "eternal growth" to that as well.

Catholic Health Association says it does not support Senate version of Obamacare

Despite what the New York Times tried to lead the US public to believe, the nation's Catholic hospitals do NOT support the Senate version of Obamacare.

On Christmas Day, the Times ran a story headlined "Catholic Group Supports Senate on Abortion Aid".  It claimed that there was a split between the leadership of the hospitals and the country's Catholic bishops "over the abortion-financing provisions of the proposed health care overhaul" and that "the nation’s Catholic hospitals have signaled that they back the Senate’s compromise."

Of course liberals were quick to point to the "split" as a rationale for pro-life Catholics to support Obamacare.

But wait!  Surprise, surprise, the Times got it wrong. The head of the Catholic Health Association went public yesterday and put the "conflict" to rest.  (Via LifeNews)

CBO goofed: Obamacare doesn't "save" money

Before the debate over health care reform really got started, President Obama said that the final result of reform should NOT increase the deficit (and debt).   In fact, he said he would not sign a bill that added "one dime" to the deficit.

Well, we're about to find out how serious that promise was, because it turns out that the calculator at the Congressional Budget Office doesn't work so well.  In its first look at the Senate version of the bill, the CBO showed a savings, leading Obama was able to take to the stage and declare "mission accomplished", saying:

"This bill with strengthen Medicare and extend the life of the program.
Because it’s paid for and gets rid of waste and inefficiency in our
health care system this will be the largest deficit reduction plan in
over a decade. In fact, we just learned from the Congressional Budget
Office that this bill will reduce our deficit by $132 billion over the
first decade of the program, and more than one trillion dollars in the
decade after that."

But it turns out that it's easy to show a bill costs less than it really does if you count the "savings" twice.  Which is what the CBO just admitted that it did in its analysis of the bill.

The result?  A 170 BILLION dollar hole in the deficit.

The payoffs in the Senate Obamacare bill

It's been said that laws are like sausages - it's best not to see them being made.  If ever that applied to the product of any legislative body, it applies doubly so to the debate over Obamacare.

And when it comes to the Senate's version of the bill to take over 1/6th of the American economy, we're talking about some expensive sausage.

Via the Washington Examiner, here's a list of some of the payoffs to senators in exchange for their votes for the bill:

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. -- Up to $300 million in additional federal money to pay for the state of Louisiana's share of the proposed expansion of Medicaid.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb. -- A commitment that the federal government will permanently pay for Medicaid expansion in the Cornhusker State at a cost of about $100 million.

Sens. Ben Nelson and Carl Levin, D-Mich. -- A provision that shelters Mutual of Omaha in Nebraska and Blue Cross Blue Shield in Michigan from a proposed $10 billion annual fee on the health insurance industry.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. -- Dodd, facing a re-election battle with low poll numbers, inserted a $100 million grant tailored to a proposal for a new hospital at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

Will the debt be the doom of liberalism?

Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.  And considering that liberalism is essentially socialism, the same principle applies.  And with that said, America is fast running out of other people's money.

There was a great op-ed in the Washington Examiner last week which suggested that our national debt, the result of borrowing other people's money over the years, would be the end of liberalism as there would no longer be enough money to pay for it.  To which one could conclude that, if there's anything silver lining to the explosive growth of government, entitlement programs, etc. - to say nothing of what Obama and current members of Congress have in mind - it's that they'll just bankrupt us quicker and bring a more speedy end to liberalism.

From the article:

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