White House using base-closure process to extort Nelson’s vote on ObamaCare?

posted at 1:36 pm on December 15, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

How desperate has the White House become to get anything passed under the name of health-care reform?  According to Michael Goldfarb’s source on Capitol Hill, the Obama administration has targeted the last remaining Democratic holdout, at least among moderates — and they’re willing to damage national security to extort his support.  The White House has threatened Ben Nelson (D-NE) with the closure of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska if he opposes Reid’s latest version, despite its status as the headquarters of US Strategic Command:

According to a Senate aide, the White House is now threatening to put Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base on the BRAC list if Nelson doesn’t fall into line.

Offutt Air Force Base employs some 10,000 military and federal employees in Southeastern Nebraska. As our source put it, this is a “naked effort by Rahm Emanuel and the White House to extort Nelson’s vote.” They are “threatening to close a base vital to national security for what?” asked the Senate staffer.

Indeed, Offutt is the headquarters for US Strategic Command, the successor to Strategic Air Command, and not by accident. STRATCOM was located in the middle of the country for strategic reasons. Its closure would be a massive blow to the economy of the state of Nebraska, but it would also be another example of this administration playing politics with our national security.

The Obama administration has little left to use for leverage.  Why not national security?  After all, if we’re going to bring terrorists into Illinois, what does it matter if we put the US Strategic Command on wheels for a few years?

One reason for the extortion attempt is that the latest version still hasn’t won any converts among the GOP.  Susan Collins (R-ME), once considered a likely supporter of ObamaCare, announced today that the elimination of the public option and the Medicare buy-in isn’t enough to rescue the bill:

Today Collins told reporters that the bill under consideration in the Senate is “too deeply flawed for me to support it.”

“I don’t see voting for the current bill that is on the floor, even with the improvements that have been made,” Collins said. “I’m very leery of the impact of nearly $500 billion in Medicare cuts, particularly the cuts in home health care, which are completely counterproductive to the goal of lowering costs.”

Collins explained that she is continuing to work on the bill not because she intends to vote for it but because, “I think something is going to pass, and I would like to make that bill as good as possible, even if ultimately it’s not a bill that I can support.”

Collins’ colleague from Maine, Olympia Snowe, is not likely to contradict her, and no other Republicans will cast a vote for this monstrosity.  Without the language prohibiting abortion funding, Nelson’s not likely to go for it, either, which leaves Reid at 59 votes — maybe.  He may face some rebellion from the progressive side of his caucus, several of whom pledged not to vote for a bill without any kind of public option.  Getting Lieberman on board may wind up creating just another problem for Reid … unless the White House intends on threatening more base closures and disruption for national security.

Update: Matt Lewis reported this first on his Twitter feed, apparently with a source other than Michael’s.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3 4

jeanie on December 16, 2009 at 1:30 PM

You do realize that Schumer is a democrat, right? Your comment made it look like you thought he was a republican, or at least “on the right”.

runawayyyy on December 16, 2009 at 1:52 PM

–I’ve explained my reasons last week–with cites to an Old Testament verse–if you’re interested. I do believe the Bible says a fetus is not the equivalent of a human being in God’s eyes.
Jimbo3 on December 16, 2009 at 11:31 AM

It’s a common thing for the sinner to take Bible verses out of context in order to justify his sinful behavior.

fossten on December 16, 2009 at 2:10 PM

Anyone notice the Democrat Party has tried kneecapping any big business they can in the United States?
They have successfully shut down the oil companies from functioning within the U.S. borders, they’re working on kneecapping the health care industry, they’re trying to kneecap other manufacturing with pollution mandates, they’re trying to kneecap banking and Wall Street.
This country is being brought to its knees by this political party, and marches onward to a one party dictatorship with increasing fervor.
And you can see how they are ignoring the peoples wishes and complaints. Complain and you are labeled a Nazi, by the very people that are performing like Nazi’s in their every action.
Our country and way of life is under serious threat by this Party and its leaders. Examine any functioning dictatorship you know of today, and you will discover many similarities between their people and their government.

Cybergeezer on December 16, 2009 at 2:52 PM

olesparkie on December 16, 2009 at 7:51 AM

Is this story just cover for Ben Nelson so that he can vote for Obamacare to save Offutt AFB?

The threat is bogus.

Since 1988, base closures have been recommended by blue ribbon committees. The most recent list was locked in in 2005 and won’t be completed until 2011.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base_Realignment_and_Closure

If Michael Goldfarb and Ed had done some digging, they might have discovered that Rahm Emanuel is blowing smoke or that Rahm Emanuel is a complete idiot because he is making threats that he cannot carry out or that the story is just cover for Ben Nelson so that he can vote for Obamacare to save Offutt AFB.

The problem here is that because Michael Goldfarb and Ed did not do basic research on the story, 99% of the comments here are rants which are based on a lack of understanding of the BRAC process.

slp on December 16, 2009 at 5:00 PM

I’ve explained my reasons last week–with cites to an Old Testament verse–if you’re interested. I do believe the Bible says a fetus is not the equivalent of a human being in God’s eyes.
Jimbo3 on December 16, 2009 at 11:31 AM
It’s a common thing for the sinner to take Bible verses out of context in order to justify his sinful behavior.

fossten on December 16, 2009 at 2:10 PM

–It’s a common thing for people in general and certain pastors in particular to misquote or read things into the Bible for their own purposes.

Jimbo3 on December 16, 2009 at 5:25 PM

Glenn Beck now on air talking about Senator Nelson and the closing of Offutt….

Ben, there’s still hope for you! Change parties like Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Phil Gramm.

yoda on December 16, 2009 at 5:42 PM

But I don’t think what Obama is doing is any different than things other presidents have done in the past to get measures passed
Jimbo3 on December 16, 2009 at 11:31 AM

I disagree with you Jimbo3. If George Bush would have put this kind of message out, we would have heard about it and the MSM would have plastered the news everywhere. I am probably older than you, but I have never seen anything like this.

yoda on December 16, 2009 at 5:57 PM

Glenn Beck now on air talking about Senator Nelson and the closing of Offutt….
Ben, there’s still hope for you! Change parties like Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Phil Gramm.
yoda on December 16, 2009 at 5:42 PM

Yes, Ben…Come to the LRight side.
Oh BTW Mr. O, Can you say, treason?

Nalea on December 16, 2009 at 6:04 PM

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