Republicans: "We come not to praise Caesar, but to bury him"

by Bruce Webb

Yeah well Marc Antony was not quite telling the truth, either. You could see this particular re-write of history coming a mile away and it is time to stop this one in its tracks. Both Parties Mourn Loss of Kennedy in Health-Care Debate

Three GOP senators suggested in their remembrances of Kennedy that Democrats will need more than respectful conversation to gain bipartisan support for a health-care bill. Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Judd Gregg (N.H.) lamented Kennedy’s absence in the negotiations.

“I think we may have made progress on this health-care issue if he had been there,” McCain told CNN. “He had this unique capability to sit people down at a table together — and I’ve been there on numerous occasions — and really negotiate, which means concessions. And so, he not only will be missed, but he has been missed.”

“I believe if he had been active the last few months, we would have some sort of consensus agreement,” said Gregg, a passionate advocate of Medicare reform who has sat out Senate deliberations on perhaps the most extensive revisions ever to that program.

“We would have worked it out. We would have worked it out on a bipartisan basis,” Hatch, who co-authored numerous health-care bills with Kennedy over the years, said on CNN. “I’ll be happy to work in a bipartisan basis any day, any time . . . but it’s got to be on something that’s good and not just some partisan hack job.”

This is complete and utter bullshit, and a blatant attempt to rewrite the history of the last eight weeks. To see why follow me under the fold.

Kennedy did his part on health care, his Committee, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions or HELP, passed its bill out of Committee on July 1st. My blog post on this was here: Kennedy-Dodd HELP Bill w/CBO Scoring For convenience lets throw the CBO tables in here:

The response to the HELP bill was almost immediate. Max Baucus declared it DOA and announced that Senate Finance would re-write the ENTIRE bill including the parts not normally under the jurisdiction of his Committee. Moreover in doing so he formed what was originally a Gang of Seven that included four Republicans but froze out Kennedy ally Rockefeller who was actually was and is the Chairman of the Finance Sub-Committee on Health. The whole process was a big ol’ F-U to Kennedy and everybody knew it.

Now Republicans are trying to claim that if only Kennedy had been around he would have been able to work out a compromise, apparently in the form of throwing away ever principle it had ever held by making “concessions” which in the context of how Senate Finance has been handling things means complete and total surrender to the Republicans and the Insurance Companies.

It is Bullshit. Full Stop. Kennedy already made tremendous concessions in the course of issuing the HELP Bill. It cost were scored out at a third less than the preliminary version sent for scoring to CBO, a severe trimming that was accomplished by covering a much smaller proportion of the population than that of the House Tri-Committee Bill. Whereas the latter bill is projected to cover 97% of the total LEGAL NON-ELDERLY population, Kennedy’s HELP Bill only scored as covering 90% of that same population and leaving 34 million uninsured. If anything Kennedy-Dodd bent over backwards to accomodate the fiscal concerns of the Blue Dogs and Republicans and STILL got spat in the face by Baucus for their trouble.

Republicans are already, and predictably trying to re-write history to suggest that Kennedy ‘obviously’ would of given up even more than he did. Well too bad, that was never going to happen, and certainly shouldn’t happen now. The answer for Democrats is to take the HELP Bill off the table, replace it with the much stronger Tri-Committee Bill and tell these hypocritical, crocodile tear crying Republicans to piss up a rope while Dems pass a real Kennedy-Dingel Bill.
By the way you will see reporting that Kennedy’s bill covered 97% of the population while costing $350 billion less than the Tri-Committee. This is apples and oranges reporting. If you examine the table above the Kennedy bill leaves 10% of legal American residents uninsured and 34 million people total, about twice what the House bill does as seen below.