If anyone was still holding out hope that Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick would have a last minute change of heart and cast a vote for health care reform this weekend, those hopes can be permanently laid to rest today.
U.S. House Republicans, in a last-ditch effort to derail reform, attempted to scold the Democratic leadership with a resolution condemning the rumored "deem and pass" procedure they dubbed the "Slaughter Solution." The resolution failed on a 232 to 181 procedural vote with ten Democrats, including Walt Minnick, joining 171 Republicans against a motion to table the resolution.
In part, the resolution reads:
Whereas the Democratic leadership of the House has conducted a calculated and coordinated attempt to willfully deceive the American people by embracing the “Slaughter Solution”;
Whereas resorting to the “Slaughter Solution” in this circumstance, is being done to intentionally hide from the American people a future vote that Members of Congress may take on the Senate-passed health care legislation;
Whereas the deceptive behavior demonstrated by the Democratic Leadership has brought discredit upon the House of Representatives; and
Whereas the Democratic leadership has willfully abused its power to chart a legislative course for the Senate health care bill that is deliberately calculated to obfuscate what the House will vote on, in an illegitimate effort to confuse the public and thereby fraudulently insulate certain Representatives from accountability for their conduct of their offices.
Walt Minnick joined Republicans in accusing the Democratic leadership of willful deceit, deceptive behavior, willful abuse of power and a whole host of other strongly worded, imagined offenses.
Yes, it's safe to say that Walt Minnick is not changing his vote.
That's despite news from the Congressional Budget Office today that the reconciliation bill would cover an additional 32 million people and reduce the deficit by $130 billion in ten years. Ezra Klein at the Washington Post distilled the merits of the reform bill and the CBO score for conservative Democrats.
If you're a conservative House Democrat, then probably you support many of those policies, too. But you also get the single most ambitious effort the government has ever made to control costs in the health-care sector. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill cuts deficits by $130 billion in the first 10 years, and up to $1.2 trillion in the second 10 years. The excise tax is now indexed to inflation, rather than inflation plus one percentage point, and the subsidies grow more slowly over time. So one of the strongest cost controls just got stronger, and the automatic spending growth slowed. And then there are all the other cost controls in the bill: The Medicare Commission, which makes entitlement reform much more possible. The programs to begin paying doctors and hospitals for care rather than volume. The competitive insurance market.
Thirty-two million additional people covered; reducing the deficit by trillions--which core principle is it that Walt's standing on again? Or maybe there's still not enough "bi" in the partisanship to suit him. But ooh boy, accusing your own party of willful deceit and abuse of power--that's the sort of bipartisan solution Idahoans are looking for? There may be more than just a few more Idaho Democrats hoping for the spotted weasel after that.