Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Talk about a Moving Target:

It really isn't over until its over. I had just been proposing, to the ambient air (well, LGM) that the Democrats should have attached all bribes to individual Senators only in the Conference Bill as a guarantor of good behavior from, say, Nelson. That would mean that in voting against cloture on any progressive initiative, like Abortion rights, a public option, or changes in financing Nelson and other Senators would be explicitly voting against their own goodies. My reasoning on this was that Nelson et al would be reluctant to go back to their constituents and admit that, say, 100 percent financing was stripped out of the conference bill because Nelson refused to vote for cloture on the conference bill--his last point of leverage. But lo, look what comes out today (reported at TPM)

Nelson May Ask For NE Deal To Be Stripped

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) said today he may ask that a deal he got for Nebraska be removed from the health care bill. The deal -- that he accept an abortion compromise in exchange for perpetual federal funding of a Medicaid expansion in Nebraska -- has become ammo for reform opponents. "This is the way Senate leadership chose to handle it. I never asked for 100 percent funding," he said. Nelson also said three lawmakers have approached him and said they're seeking similar deals.

Honestly, I can't even be surprised. There has always been something almost childlike about Nelson's account of what he wants, and why, in a legislative context. It always reminds me of the way a child coughs, just opening its mouth and doing it, or sneezes on everything around it. Unselfconscious, almost animal like, and eternally surprised to find out that there are adults around actually paying attention and somewhat disgusted. Nelson is truly a deeply stupid person, and mendacious even (or especially) to himself about his own motives. Thus it seems never to have occurred to him that there could be any kind of ugly fall out from his public actions. And even now he responds to the challenge presented by his perennial political enemies by simply flailing, lying, and going back on his own public statements crowing about the deal.

Nevertheless Nelson's backtracking ought to remind us that this is far from a done deal. Harkin's list of things yet to be decided in conference is a case in point:

Harkin Outlines The Key Issues For The Conference Committee

TPMDC's Brian Beutler reports that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has defined the major issues, as the health care bill heads to conference committee: Financing, whether to organize the insurance exchange on a national or state-based level, and the implementation date.

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