Thanks to fierce lobbying by Congressional Democrats, the Senate Finance Committee’s version of the health care bill just passed on Tuesday with bipartisan support from (1) liberal senators, represented by Olympia Snowe from Maine, and (2) ultraliberal senators, represented by all 13 Democrats on the committee.
On Wednesday morning, GOP senator Susan Collins also announced that she was open to health care reform along the lines of the committee’s proposal.
Impressive as this Republican sweep is, you may recall how Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package received even broader bipartisan support last spring, inasmuch as it attracted the votes of no fewer than three Republican senators, including Snowe, Collins, and Arlen Specter, which means that the failure of the stimulus bill to do what it was supposed to lies equally with Democrats and Republicans. Of course, Specter became a Democrat five minutes later, but right up until that moment he was firmly on the other side of the aisle.
Snowe, like Collins, Specter, John McCain, and other liberal Senators, has a reputation for magnanimously cooperating with the opposition party (the ultraliberals) in passing legislation that might otherwise be seen as abridging our liberty and taking over our lives. Legislators such as Snowe (L-ME) serve the important function of watering down such legislation to make its impact marginally less onerous on average Americans.
For example, Snowe opposes a “public option” in the health care reform bill—that is, unless private insurance companies don’t live up to arbitrary standards issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services that will ensure such companies don’t get away with swindles like “earning a profit,” at which point the public option will kick in faster than you can say “single payer.” read more »