Scroll down for updates…10:45am – Snowe wanted reassurance from CBO and Baucus that scoring “integrity” will be preserved as conceptual language becomes legislative language…1:04pm Eastern…Snowe will vote YES on government health care takeover…2:54pm Eastern Senate Finance Cmte vote is 14-9
Sen. Olympia Snowe was one of the three members of the Senate GOP Turncoat Caucus who voted for the trillion-dollar Generational Theft Act.
This morning, the Senate Finance Committee votes on the tax-and-spend government health care takeover and “all eyes are on Snowe.” The Dems have a 13-10 majority, so passage is a fait accompli. The Beltway Obamacare-pushers are just waiting to find out if they can claim “bipartisanship.”
The committee, which plans to convene at 10 a.m., will let senators quiz the director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas W. Elmendorf, and the chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, Thomas A. Barthold, on their cost analysis of the bill.
That Q-and-A session may be wonky, but senators will try to elicit answers to help build their case, for or against the legislation, with the American public.
The economics of the bill have become even more contentious in the last 36 hours, after the insurance industry released an analysis on Sunday evening concluding that the legislation would raise many people’s insurance premiums more in coming years than they would rise if Congress did nothing at all. Democrats have angrily disputed that report, and an analysis by an M.I.T. health economist has called it deeply flawed.
For many observers, the big question about Tuesday’s vote is which way Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine, will finally lean.
Ms. Snowe, the only Republican who has expressed willingness to support the bill, has not yet offered any clues on whether she will vote for or against. Even Washington’s most seasoned political bookmakers are not venturing a guess.
The broad gauge of G.O.P. thinking, though, will probably be the committee’s top Republican, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, whose comments could provide insight into some of his party’s most serious reservations about the bill. And any remarks by Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the voice of the Republican leadership on the committee, could provide a preview of the floor fight that lies ahead.
Seems to me she’s better off voting no now. Doing so lets her vote yes later if she can secure sufficient changes to make the bill to her liking. She also gets loyalty credit from her Republican colleagues.
If, however, she votes yes now, she angers the Republicans and makes the Democrats happy, but it makes it almost impossible for her to jump ship and vote no on the floor later. The Republicans would still be mad about the Committee vote, and the Dems and their allies wouldn’t forgive the switch.
And The Hill:
Snowe represents the biggest wildcard for the GOP at Tuesday’s Finance vote. If she supports the bill, Democrats can claim a bipartisan product heading into the floor debate.
Her vote would diminish the threat of two Democrats who have strongly criticized Baucus’s legislation and whose votes are by no means guaranteed.
A spokesman for Snowe did not respond to a request for comment for this article.
Snowe’s policy concerns include weighing how the bill, which imposes a heavy tax on high-cost insurance plans, would affect her home state, where healthcare coverage ranks among the most expensive in the country.
She also has to determine whether the bill does enough to subsidize the healthcare costs of Americans who would be required under the bill to buy insurance, a concern she has repeatedly raised.
Here’s Sen. Snowe’s contact info:
Phone: (202) 224-5344
Toll Free: (800) 432-1599
Fax: (202) 224-1946
10:57am Eastern. Senate Finance Cmte grilling CBO’s Doug Elmendorf on scoring. Snowe wants the “integrity” preserved. Baucus says he’ll guarantee “transparency” and “openness.”
Jon Kyl points out that changes made in committee haven’t been incorporated by CBO. Cost estimate is incorrect: “We can’t pass the legislation as it is and know that CBO score reflects the policy we’re voting on.”
Baucus objects and calls the changes “clarifications.” Baucus asks Elmendorf to back him up. Elmendorf declines. “I’m not in a position to judge.”
Did you assume inflation indexing all along? Elmendorf demurs.
The language of the mark does not include indexing. Elmendorf assumed it. It was not in legislation voted on by Committee.
Kyl: Indexing is not a minor matter.
The issues also include defining exemptions from the fines for not complying with individual insurance mandate.
Sen. Kerry interrupts for a demagogic industry-bashing rant.
1:04pm Eastern. Snowe is going to vote with the Democrats. Surprise.
2:54pm Eastern Senate Finance Cmte vote is 14-9.
Now, in a sign of how bass-ackwards Washington is, they’ll start actually writing up the legislative language to fill out the shell they all just voted for.