Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowe Will Vote No

There has been a fair amount of talk that the reason Republicans are voting against the health care overhaul is because they either a) don't care about the plight of the uninsured or b) are betting on voters to punish the Democrats in 2010 for this bill.

Of course, there are such people among the GOP in both the House and the Senate.  However, not every Republican is against this bill for cynical reasons.  Some do have honest to goodness objections to the bill.  One such person is Maine's Olympia Snowe.  The New York Times reports today, that she is going to vote against this health care overhaul.  Back in fall, she was the only Republican to vote for the bill in committee.

Her objections are not steeped in rhetoric but in some genuine concerns that she has about the bill and the speed in which it is being passed:

Unlike the barrage of attacks unleashed on the bill by her Republican colleagues, Ms. Snowe’s criticism is particularly devastating for the Democrats. In many ways, Ms. Snowe seems to want to vote for the health care bill even more than some of the reluctant centrists who will provide Democrats with the pivotal votes.

In Ms. Snowe’s view, Democrats are rushing the bill unnecessarily. In a recent interview, she warned that Congress would spend years fixing the bill if it was adopted in her current form. She recalled her days in the Maine state legislature, where legislation titled “errors and inconsistencies” would be needed to correct mistakes – in the Congress such legislation is often referred to as “technical corrections” and she said many such corrections would be need on the health measure.

There are a number of GOP pols that have said that things are being rushed. But of course many of them don't really mean what they are saying. What they want is to block the bill. But Snowe has never been one of those people. She has honestly wanted health care reform and has been willing to cross party lines to support the bill. But unlike what has been the popular charactacher of centrists, she can't in good conscience support the bill. Here is a portion of her formal statement:

Having been fully immersed in this issue for this entire year and as the only Republican to vote for health reform in the Finance Committee, I deeply regret that I cannot support the pending Senate legislation as it currently stands, given my continued concerns with the measure and an artificial and arbitrary deadline of completing the bill before Christmas that is shortchanging the process on this monumental and trans-generational effort.

Only three weeks ago the Senate received a more than 2,000-page bill on one of the most complex issues in our history, and we have since considered fewer than two dozen amendments out of more than 450 filed. A little over 24 hours ago, the Senate received a final, nearly 400-page manager’s amendment that cannot be changed or altered, with more than 500 cross references including to other statutes and will be voted on at 1 a.m. Monday morning. It defies logic that we are now expected to vote on the overall, final package before Christmas with no opportunity to amend it so we can adjourn for a three week recess even as the legislation will not fully go into effect until 2014, four years from now.

I remain convinced we must work toward a responsible, common sense solution to reverse the trend of spiraling health care costs — that will cause one-in-four Americans this year to have either inadequate coverage or none at all, and threatens affordable coverage for millions more Americans in the future. As I pledged to the president in an Oval Office meeting Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t agree more that reform is an imperative, and I will continue my constructive efforts to forge effective, common sense health care reform as the process moves into a House-Senate conference.

I personally don't know where I stand on this bill. Like Snowe, health care reform is important for me. But I worry how cost effective it will be in the long run. I am upset that it doesn't sever health care from our work, a holdover of the post-war era. I worry that it just might bust the budget.

Not every Republican who shares misgivings is against any health care reform. When we are on the cusp of making a big change in American society, some of us want to make sure that it is done right.

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