Healthcare

Conservatives Win Round 1 on Obamacare

The Senate just voted down, 47-53, a procedural motion to commence debate on the so-called “Doc Fix” bill today. This is important because this procedural vote was Round 1 of the battle over Obamacare, and the liberals lost.  The White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) wanted the Senate to pass the Doc Fix bill as a means to take $247 billion off the cost of Obamacare and to purchase the support of doctors for the measure.  A bipartisan coalition of senators concerned about spending stopped Sen. Reid from bringing Doc Fix to a vote.  

The strategy to pass Doc Fix before Obamacare to purchase doctors groups support for Obamacare was documented in the media.  The Hill reported earlier this week that “the White House and Democratic leaders are offering doctors a deal:  They’ll freeze cuts in Medicare payments to doctors in exchange for doctors’ support of healthcare reform.”  This strategy collapsed today when the Senate voted 47-53, well short of the necessary 60 voted needed, to commence debate on the bill.

Many senators voiced policy concerns about a $247 billion new spending bill with no method to cut other areas of the budget to pay for this new spending.  Sen. Mike Enzi (R.-Wyo.) said of the vote today, “[T]he majority is trying to add a quarter-trillion dollars in Medicare spending to our nation’s deficit this week. Meanwhile, they’re working behind closed doors on a healthcare bill that will cut a half-trillion dollars from Medicare benefits to pay for new entitlement programs.  That is irresponsible.  We need to fix Medicare’s problems, like physician payments, before anyone should even think about cutting more money from Medicare to create a new government entitlement program.”  With the budget deficit for the year at $1.4 trillion, it seems like a terrible time to pass a bill costing hundreds of billions of dollars in new deficit spending.

The secret negotiations in the Capitol on Obamacare including Senators Reid, Max Baucus (D.-Mont.), Chris Dodd (D.-Conn.), White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag and Health Care Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle ordered the Senate to take up and pass Doc Fix to grease the skids for Obamacare.  Senators who care about passing on debt to future generations just said no. 

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