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Tonight's the vote on whether to allow debate in the Senate on the health care reform bill. 60 votes are needed to begin debate....yes, BEGIN debate.
If you've been following this congressional soap opera develop.....in a glacially slow fashion.....you also know that it appears as if Senate Democrats will have the votes tonight to BEGIN debate. Joementum Lieberman (Lieberman Party-CT) will magnanimously (after consulting Yahweh directly) vote to allow debate to start,...so will, apparently, Ben Nelson (D-NE). Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Mary Landrieux (D-LA) are still playing coy, probably looking for the hand with the largest check amount on in....in order to decide.
Just think about what is happening tonight at 8 PM in the Senate. Democrats are being asked whether or not a Democratic health care reform bill should be introduced for debate. That's it. And trying to get an answer from Democrats on whether they'll even vote to allow debate has been like pulling teeth.
For tonight's vote to be so dramatic does not bode well for the future of the legislation.
The 40 Senate Republicans, having proven their high regard for fiscal responsibility during the presidency of Dick Cheney, naturally, will be voting no on allowing debate. Those 40 only want what's best for all Americans and are not simply attempting to bring about "Obama's Waterloo."
Will the bill eventually pass the Senate? How long will it take for obstructionist Republicans to exhaust their amendments, objections and stall tactics? Will the final bill....if there is a final bill.....be so mangled by corporate-pleasing Democratic senators that it will be totally impotent, except for increasing health insurers bottom lines?
Those are some of the unknowns....but The Reverend has predictions.
First....there will be no public option in any final Senate bill. Joe Lieberman, of the Joe Lieberman Party, will filibuster a final vote that contains a public option. Aside from carving out the entire state of Connecticut and designating it as the state of Lieberman.....Holy Joe will, once again, f*ck the Democrats over.
The Lone Republican Rangerette, Olympia Snowe (R-ME), said she MIGHT vote for a final bill which contained a "trigger" public option. A trigger assumes that health insurance and medical costs are not really that bad YET. Quite an assumption, but Snowe is still a Republican....and Republicans always know what's best for the vulnerable, poor and underprivileged. The trigger cop-out suggests that IF sometime down the road insurers and medical costs really, really get out of control...then, and only then, something else MIGHT be needed.
So...my prediction, all things being equal...is that a public option wll have to be sacrificed by progressive Democrats in order to get ANYTHING passed. That will protect corporate health insurers, thus pleasing the Republicans who will vote against it. Don't ask me....I never said it made sense.
Second.....This one is for the ladies. New far reaching restrictions on a woman's right to choose will most likely be included in any Senate bill with hopes of passing. The most likely outcome will be a harsh restriction on any "insurance exchange" plans from covering abortion, even though the majority of insurance plans today in America cover abortion.
This will drastically increase the scope of the odious Hyde Amendment which already prohibits tax money from being spent on abortion. Additionally,....though no Republicans will vote for it in the end,....further restrictions on a woman's right to choose will please Republicans. Republicans are in the minority and out of the White House, but America is really a conservative-Republican country in spite of having elected the most "liberal person in the Senate" as president, and putting 59 Democratic Senators in the Senate. If you can figure that sentence out...let me know.
Third....Sometime in early 2010, the Very Serious Senate will get around to calling a vote on whatever final piece of corporate-welfare and women-bashing legislation they've prepared. Having done everything in their power to please Republicans, except including a paragraph granting authorization to nuke Iran, Joementum, perhaps Snowe, the handful of ConservaDems and the rest of the self-loathing Democrats will get the 60 votes needed....TO BRING IT TO A FINAL VOTE!
Summary: If all that happens and something actually passes next Spring.....corporate-patriots of the health insurance variety will raise prices so high before the legislation finally goes into effect in 2013....that Democrats, who sought to please Republicans, just might be swept out of office in time for the GOP, America's Party, to rescind the whole thing.