The final vote tally in the Senate Finance Committee by which the public option, without which nothing emerging from Congress can truly be called Health Care Reform, was defeated minutes ago.
Max Baucus of Montana, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, all Democrats, voted against Senator Schumer(D-NY)'s amendment, which would have mandated fairly negotiated compensation rates, as opposed to Rockefeller's which would have utilized Medicare rates for the first two years, and was defeated 15-8, with the additional defections of Bill Nelson (Florida) and Thomas Carper (Delaware).
Of the three who voted against Schumer's amendment, only Kent Conrad comes from a state where a majority, around 57% depending on the poll, oppose the public option. In Montana it's a close 47% to 43%-- which would no doubt be moved if the Senator himself had continued to favor it as strongly in public as he did in a position paper at the beginning of the year-- in addition to an overwhelming 77% of Democrats in support. In Arkansas, 80% of Democrats and 55% of the public at large favor the public option.
With the support of two Senators whose constituents favor a government-run insurance option, we would have had real healthcare reform brought to the floor of the Senate. Without action from the Finance committee, it's looking like Harry Reid is going to leave the public option out of the reconciled bill that makes it to the floor, where it'll have to be reintroduced during markup.
Where the Democrats have conceded that it takes 60 votes to pass a bill these days, which is the reason Baucus cited for voting against the ammendment.
Despite the fact that they have a majority of Senators, a President who was elected by as near a landslide as we're likely to see from any non-incumbent in our lifetimes, and the overwhelming support of the public on their side. The only thing they don't seem to possess is the fortitude to actually make Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley read from their respective phone books while the nation watches in disgust. So it's looking like all we can expect from the Senate, despite some West Wing-esque twelfth hour miracle, is insurance reform.
So we're on the same page:
2008 Health Sector Donations to Democrats who Voted Against the Public Option
|MAX BAUCUS (D-MT)||$1,148,775.00|
|KENT CONRAD (D-ND)||$117,350.00|
|BLANCHE L. LINCOLN (D-AR)||$226,753.00|
And the numbers for the two Senators who voted for Schumer's ammendment and not Rockefeller's.
|BILL NELSON (D-FL)||$60,015.00|
|THOMAS CARPER (D-DE)||$15,450.00|
Money doesn't talk. It swears.