On Tuesday, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) contacted the Fremont Tribune to explain that the President should have fixed the economy before tackling the health care crisis — a problem that Nelson sees as completely unrelated to the state of American business or the larger economy. “I think it was a mistake to take health care on as opposed to continuing to spend the time on the economy,” he said.
Still, Nelson admitted that there is some benefit to passing reform. He explained that 220,000 Nebraskans who are currently unable to acquire private health insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions will be able to get it, “127,000 Nebraskans that are going to be able to change from their expensive individual policies to a less costly private group plan,” tax credits “will be aimed at helping middle class families afford private insurance, and helping small businesses afford group plans. Adding “more people on the insurance rolls” “will reduce the amount of uncompensated medical care expenses that get shifted onto the premiums of people who have insurance.”
In short, Congress passed the right bill and the wrong time. Nebraskans would have benefited MORE if the benefit was delayed for another 10-20 years and Congress instead undertook some “undefined” jobs plan that did not deal with the health care economy. Tellingly, Nelson did not reveal his secret jobs program or recognize that Congress has been walking and chewing gum at the same time. Obama signed a stimulus package, the House passed a jobs bill, and the administration has “outlined a broad new proposal to try to spur jobs and give more help to Main Street consumers and businesses.”
Nelson characterized the “rush” to pass health care reform as a realistic approach to policy making — “Deadlines and crises are the very nature of how legislation passes,” he said — but then criticized the administration for setting deadlines to ensure that “legislation passes.” “In this case, it was so public for so long, with all the anger and all the town hall meetings and all the coverage that this kept getting, that’s why I think everybody’s felt rushed, because they set a number of different deadlines and didn’t meet them. I think it was unwise in retrospect,” he said.
Wisdom came only after Nelson “took a bad bill and made it better,” by inserting the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback” — which, unlike the body of the bill “was not intended to be a special perk for Nebraska” — and tightening the abortion restrictions. “There was never a time when I fought to get something only for Nebraska; not then and not now,” he added.
Nelson is suggesting that another jobs bill would have gone more smoothly than health care reform. As a champion of progressive principles, he would have personally led the way!