Critical Condition

Snowe Advisory

The Senate Finance Committee votes today, and most eyes are on Olympia Snowe, and whether she will vote with the Democrats on the $829 billion Baucus plan. Politico’s “Pulse” went through the two schools of thought on this. In a nutshell, they were:

1. She votes yes so she will be included in conversations going forward about how to move the bill to the floor. The Dems pocket her vote and move on to wooing Collins.  

2. She votes no so she maintains her leverage to drive compromises on the floor. This is seen as a blow to Baucus and the Democrats look more closely at the reconciliation option. 

Seems to me she’s better off voting no now. Doing so lets her vote yes later if she can secure sufficient changes to make the bill to her liking. She also gets loyalty credit from her Republican colleagues.

If, however, she votes yes now, she angers the Republicans and makes the Democrats happy, but it makes it almost impossible for her to jump ship and vote no on the floor later. The Republicans would still be mad about the Committee vote, and the Dems and their allies wouldn’t forgive the switch.

And the Democrats, as we’re seeing today from the reaction to the AHIP/PricewaterhouseCoopers report, are not in a forgiving mood. Americans United for Change is already up with an ad attacking the insurers, a White House spokesman called the PWC report a “so-called analysis,” White House aide Nancy-Ann Deparle dismissed PWC as experts in tax shelters rather than health policy, and the blogosphere was heavy with rumors of some kind of payback against the insurers for their treachery.

An anonymous insurance industry spokesperson feigned shock, shock at these goings on: “As for the threats of retaliation, let me get this straight: members of Congress are going to make national policy decisions because they are mad about a study rather than out of a concern for what is best for the country?” I know the question was rhetorical, but these folks need to realize that the answer to that question may actually be “yes.”