Nebraska governor to Ben Nelson: Kill the bill

posted at 10:12 am on December 17, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

No pressure, as Brian Faughnan points out; it’s not like Nebraskans hate ObamaCare or anything.  (Oh, wait, yes they do.)  Governor Dave Heineman called the bill “bad news for Nebraskans” and urged Nelson to block a vote on it:

The governor said Wednesday that a new analysis by Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services indicates that while state spending on Medicaid, the health care system for the poor, would be less in the first three years after the bill took effect, Nebraska, after six years, would have $45 million in extra expenses.

“America’s health care system needs improvement, but this bill is not the answer,” Heineman said in a letter to Nelson. “You are now the 60th vote, and as Governor of the State that we both represent, I urge you to vote against this bill and against cloture.”

This just gives Nelson a little more incentive to stick to his guns on abortion.  In fact, Heineman may have intended this as a lifeline to Nelson to give him a handy excuse for remaining stubborn.  Besides, Nelson has more objections to the ObamaCare Rump bill than just the fact that it will use federal monies to fund abortions for the first time ever:

The Nebraska centrist on Wednesday outlined concerns with a disability insurance program the bill would create, cuts in Medicare payments to home health care providers and nursing homes, and unspecified tax increases. In addition, he expressed concerns that the bill would underpay some Medicare providers while not doing enough to contain long-term health care costs.

“Until those things are corrected, it’s not something I can vote for right now, and not something I can vote for cloture right now,” Nelson said on a conference call with reporters…

An aide to Nelson said that, taken individually, the several problems he has with the bill were not deal-breakers, but that together they were enough for Nelson to withhold his vote.

That list keeps getting longer, and nothing that has happened in the last few days has resolved any of those issues.  He’s also opposed to the CLASS Act, a portion of the bill addressing the needs of the disabled, as a new entitlement that will quickly drown in a sea of red ink.  Given that he wants compensation to providers increased and better savings at the same time, it will be difficult for Reid to accommodate him without hefty tax hikes that will not just kill the bill outright but also any slim hopes for Democrats in 2010.

Who’s the biggest winner if Nelson holds out?  Brian argues that it’s Blanche Lincoln, who desperately needs this bill to die in order to have any chance of winning her own election next year.  He may be right.  If Nelson successfully torpedoes the bill without Lincoln having to take any position on cloture — assuming Reid doesn’t call Nelson’s bluff and holds that cloture vote — then Lincoln will be free to spin herself as a fiscal conservative, despite waffling on ObamaCare.

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