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What Does Susan Collins Want?

By Matthew Yglesias on October 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm

"What Does Susan Collins Want?"

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Igor Volsky has a good post taking a look at Senator Susan Collins’ objections to the Finance Committee version of health reform. She appears to me to be taking a constructive tone with regard to the whole thing, but as is frustratingly often the case on this issue her concerns are somewhat contradictory. She’s concerned the bill doesn’t do enough to ensure affordability, but she opposes additional revenue measures to enhance affordability. She’s concerned the bill doesn’t do enough to control costs, but she’s voiced objections to many of the specific cost-containment measures in the bill. A robust public option would ameliorate both of these concerns to some extent, but there’s no indication that’s what she’s talking about:

If Collins is unwilling to recognize or support real cost containment measures, then Democrats are wasting their time wooing the other Senator from Maine. After all, she’s not willing to back policies that support her own rhetoric.

Or maybe to put it another way, wooing Collins makes sense in principle but the onus should be on her to make concrete proposals about what modifications would lead to her supporting a bill. Oftentimes it seems to me that the Senate’s perennial quest for bipartisanship gets bogged down in oddly theoretical discussions or else involve preemptive capitulation unmatched by hard promises of support. The leadership has some decisions to make as they work to bring a final text of a bill to the floor. This is a great opportunity for moderate Republicans—or even immoderate ones—to go on record about changes they’d like to see made in exchange for a yes vote. But vague, hand-wavy expressions of generalized concern about cost and affordability don’t move the ball forward at all.

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