The Landrieu Bribe
Monday November 23, 2009
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From Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Here's a new maxim: Nothing good ever happens when the Congress is in session on a Saturday night.
As you know, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-Nev) cajoled, coerced, and co-opted Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark) into adding the 59th and 60th necessary votes to prevent a GOP filibuster of Reid's health reform bill.
Reid and Obama Administration officials relied on the time honored method (used by Republicans and Democrats) of getting recalcitrant Members to vote a certain way: Bribery which, in the real world, is a felony but in Washington it is called "hardball."
In Sen. Landrieu's case the bribe was $300 million in Medicaid benefits to Louisiana.
It's not even a close call. According to the website "Total Criminal Defense,"
Bribery is an attempt to influence another person's actions, usually a government or public official employee, by offering a benefit in exchange for the desired decision.
Three hundred million in return for a vote to proceed. If walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck �
Imaginary - but very possible - transcript of a phone call between a Senior Administration Official and Senator Landrieu:
Mary, either you accept our offer or I will have researchers from the Democratic National Committee sent down to Louisiana to make certain that every death of every patient who dies for lack of care anywhere in the state will be called a death caused by the "Landrieu Legacy."
I am fully prepared to back this up with paid advertising. Every time. You know my reputation, I would advise you not to test me.
Landrieu caved like a sand castle at high tide.
Landrieu is a better bribee than she is an accountant. She said in her floor speech that there was $100 million in the bill specifically to pay for Medicaid in Louisiana and only Louisiana.
Talking to reporters afterward, she said,
"I will correct something. It's not $100 million, it's $300 million, and I'm proud of it and will keep fighting for it."
No reports, yet, on how angry White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel was when he found out she had been satisfied with the $100 million and he overpaid by a factor of three.
Everyone is being very clever comparing the bribe of Landrieu with the Louisiana Purchase which cost the U.S. government about $15 million. According to the "How Stuff Works" website,
The value of the purchase price negotiated in 1803 of $15 million in today's dollars would equal about $284 million.
STILL less than Rahm and Reid paid for Landrieu's vote.
Not only that, but now all the other Senators know there is a baseline price for their vote. Reports immediately surfaced that Reid had now turned his attention to Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Me) and Susan Collins (R-Me).
Six hundred million for the pair.
I'm moving to Maine.
This laser-focus on getting a health care done before the end of the year is carrying a political, as well as a financial, price.
The Gallup folks announced that Obama's approval rating has dropped below 50 percent for the first time in his Presidency (49-44). The track which was available last night measured the three-day period between November 17-19. From the Gallup website:
Among post-World War II presidents, only Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan dropped below the symbolic majority approval level faster than Obama.
Putting aside President Ford, let us remember what happened in the first mid-term elections of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
In 1982 - two years after Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter - Republicans lost 26 seats in the house (starting from a relatively weak minority, much as they have now). In 1994 - two years after Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush - the Democrats lost 52 seats and control of the House.
Clinton forced Democrats off the plank for a health care bill. Reagan oversaw unemployment numbers which touched 10.7 percent before it started back down.
Obama's Democrats are facing both.
So, when Gallup points out that Obama is in about the same political position as Reagan and Clinton, don't think 2012. Think 2010.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Gallup poll, a pretty good analysis of what's in the current version of the Senate bill and the Wikipedia entry for the Louisiana Purchase.
Also, a very clever Mullfoto - or at least the Mullfoto of a very clever sign - and a Catch Caption of the Day.
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