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Senate approves landmark health-care bill

The Senate approved a landmark health-care bill Thursday morning that would provide coverage to more than 30 million people and begin a far-reaching overhaul of Medicare and the private insurance market.

Vice President Biden presided over the 60-39, party-line vote, which brings Democrats closer than ever to realizing their 70-year-old goal of universal health coverage.

For the first time, most Americans would be required to obtain health insurance, either through their employer or via new, government-regulated exchanges. Those who can’t afford insurance plans would receive federal subsidies. And Medicaid would be vastly expanded to reach millions of low-income children and adults.

For someone who tries to stay away from predictions this makes two posts in a row. Pretty much my quota as the year ends. For those that think the Senate bill will undergo some drastic improvements through the reconciliation process after the first of the year – hope for the best, but expect 90% or more of the bill to remain as is. We’ve all been witness to the truly ugly process and compromises that it took to get to that insufferable magic 60. If the House tries shoe horning in a public-option or a Medicare buy in option, kiss 60 goodbye. And remember these famous words for 2010 and 2012,

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) vowed to wage an even tougher battle when Congress returns in January and Democrats attempt to merge the House and Senate bills. “This fight is not over. This fight is long from over,” McConnell said. “My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law.”

[  ]…Gregg (Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, continued, “Let’s come back next week, after New Year’s, and take up this bill and have some amendments and correct this problem, if nothing else, so that our seniors don’t end up getting stuck and our kids don’t end up with all this debt.”

McConnell and Gregg both whined and complained about the deficit for 7 years and did nothing. They did nothing to cut the deficit or to raise revenue. They acted like children who resolved to leave a mess for the adults to clean up. Both Senators were senior committee members and Republican Senate leaders for most of Bush’s term. What did they do to get millions more children health care? Nothing. What did they actually contribute to the current efforts to reform a terribly broken health care system – urban myths and misinformation.

Maybe Jane Hamster wants to punish President Obama for the Senate’s health care reform bill by trying to get executive staffers fired – the motives are questionable, but the least she could have done is proceed without partnering up with Grover Norquist. Norquist filing a complaint about anyone’s ethics is like listening to Lex Luthor complain about Superman’s cape, Probe Links Norquist, Abramoff – The anti-tax activist helped funnel tribe money for the lobbyist, a Senate panel says.

In Jack Abramoff’s world, prominent Washington tax-cut advocate Grover Norquist was a welcome conduit.

Moving money from a casino-operating Indian tribe to Ralph Reed, the Christian Coalition founder and a gambling opponent, was a problem. So lobbyist Abramoff apparently turned to longtime friend Norquist to provide a buffer for Reed.

The result, according to evidence gathered by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, was that Norquist’s nonprofit group Americans for Tax Reform helped to channel more than $1 million from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to Reed’s operation, and Norquist, a close White House ally, took a cut of the transaction.

The Senate panel found numerous instances of nonprofit organizations’ apparent involvement in activities unrelated to their missions as described to the Internal Revenue Service.

The panel’s 373-page report on Abramoff’s influence-peddling, released Thursday, said some nonprofits transferred money from one entity to another in an effort to obscure the source and eventual use of funds, and to evade tax liability.

The report said some tax-exempt organizations were used as extensions of for-profit lobbying operations.

In February, the committee forwarded to the Senate Finance Committee 108 documents about the nonprofits, of which 28 documents dealt with Norquist’s group.

Norquist’s office says its tax-cut mission is the same as that of the Choctaws, who were funding a grass-roots campaign by Reed’s organization to block potential casino competitors.

Nell Rogers, a planner for the Choctaws, told the Senate that the arrangement was never intended as a contribution to support the general anti-tax work of Norquist’s group. Rogers said she understood from Abramoff that the group was willing to serve as a conduit, provided it received a fee.

In an e-mail obtained by the Indian Affairs Committee, Abramoff told Reed: “I need to give Grover something for helping, so the first transfer will be a bit lighter.”

I have not read every one of Jane’s posts, but enough to know that some of the issues she has with the Senate’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is based on ethical concerns. That does not square too well with teaming up with a corrupt far Right ideologue like Grover.