From the Chron:
“I had hoped that one of my colleagues would have a Christmas Eve conversion and give the American people the gift they really want: a vote against the $2.5 trillion Reid Bill. We lost a battle today, but the fight is far from over. My colleagues and I will to do all that we can to identify every payoff and back room deal that Democrats cut to railroad this bill through.”
First, there’s that thing about the “Christmas Eve conversion” implying that those voting for the bill were pagans and that those in the Grand “No” Party were good Christians.
But you have to expect this from such a morally corrupt man like John Cornyn, so I’ll let that one pass.
Because what I really want to focus on is the second train of thought he offered. That the fight is “far from over.”
Actually, I think it is. The two houses of Congress both passed a healthcare bill. I have no doubt that one will emerge that both houses will pass, some in both houses undoubtedly holding their noses as they press the “Aye” button.
But Cornyn’s fight isn’t over the healthcare bill anymore is it? It’s over how the bill got passed in the Senate. It’s about how 3 senators held out for their own provincial interests and got major concessions to the benefit of their respective state’s voters.
His fight, now, is “to identify every payoff and back room deal” that took place to get those 60 solid filibuster-proof votes.
That’s what I like about John Cornyn. He is so dumb when he opens his mouth it makes be laugh right out loud.
And here’s why: when Democrats hold out against their party it is to get something for their constituents. When Republicans hold out against their party, it is to get something for themselves and theirs.
But what is most appropriate is how I can illustrate this point with some poetic justice.
You see, one of the good things that the healthcare reform bill does is that it closes the so-called “Doughnut Hole” in Medicare Part D. The hole that seniors fall into after their yearly cumulative prescription drug benefit reaches a certain amount, leaving them to pay the total cost of the meds that they need to live. A cost that is prohibitive on a fixed income.
And from whence did this “doughnut hole” come? Straight from Big Pharma. In 2003 the Bush Regime needed to buy off seniors’ votes in the upcoming election, and what better way to do that than to give seniors a pharmaceutical benefit in Medicare. Only we’re talking about Neoconservatives in their heyday now, so who do they get to draft this legislation that became known as the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act? Pharmaceutical lobbyists, of course. Lobbyists who wrote legislation to directly benefit the pharmaceutical companies represented by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
Credited with the law’s passage are two people. Former Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) who chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare, and my former congressman, Tom DeLay (R – Tx.).
Tauzin got his. At a cool $2 million per year, he became the highest paid lobbyist in DC. And who was his new boss? PhRMA.
On November 22, 2003 the bill had hit the House floor and it looked like it was going to go down. It was opposed by Democrats and conservative (but not neoconservative) Republicans.
Here is a description of what ensued, courtesy of Bruce Bartlett of Forbes:
“What followed was one of the most extraordinary events in congressional history. The vote was kept open for almost three hours while the House Republican leadership brought massive pressure to bear on the handful of principled Republicans who had the nerve to put country ahead of party. The leadership even froze the C-SPAN cameras so that no one outside the House chamber could see what was going on.”
“Among those congressmen strenuously pressed to change their vote was Nick Smith, R-Mich., who later charged that several members of Congress attempted to virtually bribe him, by promising to ensure that his son got his seat when he retired if he voted for the drug bill. One of those members, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, was later admonished by the House Ethics Committee for going over the line in his efforts regarding Smith.”
And what did Tom DeLay get for his crimes?