A Tale of Two Rockefellers - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A Tale of Two Rockefellers

Last month Sen. Jay Rockefeller made headlines when he declared unequivocally that he could not vote for Sen. Max Baucus’s health care proposal without significant changes, most notably, if it didn’t include a government plan. During the conference call in which he made the statement, Rockefeller also said that he made no distinction between voting a bill out of committee and voting for the final version on the Senate floor. Yet a short time ago, Rockefeller voted for the bill to pass through committee, even while claiming that it was “too sweet a deal for the insurance industry.”

Rockefeller’s vote is worth highlighting because it could foreshadow the actions of other liberal members of Congress as the process moves foward. It’s pretty clear that there aren’t the votes in the Senate to pass a bill with a government plan, yet liberals in the House insist that they have enough votes to block passage of any bill that does not include a government plan. The question has always been whether they would be willing to accept less when push comes to shove, and they’re forced to choose between a bill without a government plan, or no bill at all. While Rockefeller does not speak for all liberals on this issue — and cautioned that he hadn’t made a decision on a final bill — the fact that he folded today is a good reminder that when lawmakers make dramatic statements about drawing lines in the sand, in reality, those lines are a lot more negotiable. As Groucho Marx once quipped: “Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.” And that reality bodes well for President Obama’s chances to sign some form of health care legislation along the lines of the Baucus bill.

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