The Silliness of Olympia Snowe

>> Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beloved Senate Centrist bails out of health care reform! For reasons exactly as incoherent as you would expect:

Snowe (Maine), who was one of three Republicans who backed the $787 billion economic stimulus package, was being lobbied heavily by the White House, and some centrists view her refusal to strike a deal with Baucus as troubling. But concerns about how the plan would be paid for prompted her to back away in the hours before its release.


Snowe said she is also concerned with whether Baucus’s bill will do enough to make health insurance more affordable. Snowe and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) have repeatedly pushed fellow negotiators on the Finance panel to increase subsidies for low-income and uninsured Americans.

Now Snowe's second concern is, of course, perfectly valid. But the problem is that one crucial reason that the subsidies are insufficiently generous is Snowe's fetish for arbitrarily reducing the total cost of programs whether or not this is consistent with the goals of the legislation. It's nice that she's pushing for more subsidies, but everyone knows that when this increased the total cost of the package that she would bail. And this isn't the first time the totality of Snowe's position on health care makes absolutely no sense. At least the noises coming from Axelrod are encouraging -- just bypassing Snowe and her similarly unserious "centirst" Democratic colleagues would produce much better legislation.

It's also worth noting the asymmetry here. Even the rare remaining Republican in a solidly blue state is perfectly happy to obstruct health care reform for reasons that are either parochial or nonsensical, whereas even some deep-blue state Democrats think that massive upper-class tax cuts are affordable but aren't sure about creating a decent health care system. As long as the Democratic Party is structured so as to support the Feinsteins, getting decent legislation passed is going to become increasingly impossible, given the entrenchment of the routine filibuster.


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