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Friday, October 16, 2009

Let it Snowe, Let it Snowe, Let it Snowe...

On Tuesday, Olympia Snowe (R-ME) became the only Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee to vote in favor of the so-called “Baucus Bill” for health reform. Though threatened with repercussions by Republican leadership Snowe simply stated that “when history calls, history calls.” Snowe also prefaced her vote by saying that her vote today did not forecast what her vote would be when final legislation came to the floor of the Senate. With that one vote, Snowe has catapulted herself in to the final negotiations over health reform legislation. In fact, Ezra Klein reports today that Snowe now has a seat at the table along with Senate HELP chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT), Finance chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), and White House representatives Rahm Emanuel and Nancy-Ann Min Deparle. This has incensed liberal Democrats in the House and Senate. They are angry that in an effort to create the veneer of bipartisanship one GOP senator has been granted tremendous influence on the final product. Make no mistake, Snowe’s involvement will influence the final product, it will likely ensure that the Senate bill contains no strong public option (if anything), and it will likely mean that the weakened individual mandates (see prior post) will remain. One thing is certain, with that one "Yes" vote, Snowe demonstrated that she is a very shrewd politician.