Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dinner With Orszag

Very swanky. I guess the idea is that, when appeals to reason--and to the clear preferences of your constituents--fail, maybe a $29 entree will do the trick.

Let's hope so.

I still think Sen. Collins is likely to oppose the health care reform legislation that comes out of conference. But since the bill has gained momentum, and since it seems increasingly likely that passage won't require her support, the incentives have changed.

With no obvious way to prevent the bill from becoming law, Collins (and her corporate benefactors) may be more inclined to try to influence the final negotiations. And the only way to do that is by supporting the legislation--or at least pledging not to filibuster it.

Quote of the Day

From BDN, which is now the saner of the two major Maine dailies. By a lot.

While lawmakers, including Sen. Susan Collins and the Senate Armed Services Committee on which she serves, are right to want to question Gen. McChrystal, they must also ask themselves how they let the situation in Afghanistan get so desperate.

Diverting much-needed manpower from Afghanistan, which was a base for al-Qaida and where the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were likely plotted, to Iraq is a major reason. Doubling the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan years ago could have made a big difference. So, too, could have setting benchmarks and ensuring progress toward them was being made.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sliding Scale

Sen. Collins keen interest in ACORN and her disgust with the way the Obama administration is treating our allies would be a lot more credible if she hadn't spent years refusing to lift a finger to investigate deadly defense contractor abuses.

They'd be a lot easier to swallow if she hadn't spent years as a steadfast supporter of the most catastrophic--and transparently misguided--foreign policy in memory.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Changing The Subject

In the middle of the most important domestic policy debate in two generations, with Mainers supporting the public health plan option she adamantly opposes by a 2-1 margin, Sen. Collins writes an Op-Ed...

...about the National Senior Games.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Olympia Envy?

Via Huffington Post:

Speechwriter Matt Latimer's new book trains its gaze on the lunacy of the late-era Bush White House. And there was plenty of material...Some of the best stuff:


Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins is fond of sending angry, middle-of-the-night e-mails to staffers because she's frustrated that her colleague and rival Olympia Snowe gets more and better press. As a result, reports Latimer, she rips through press secretaries like 30-packs at a beer-pong tournament. (A Collins press secretary didn't respond to a request for comment.)
"Rips through" implies that Collins' press secretaries often quit, or are fired. But that seems not to be the case: Kevin Kelley has been with the junior senator for years. So the anecdote deserves to be viewed skeptically.

On the other hand, maybe "rips through" is supposed to mean something closer to "tears into." That would be more plausible.

Guess we'll have to check out the book, which comes out tomorrow, to see for ourselves.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Consistency at PPH

Just weeks ago, PPH wanted Sens. Snowe and Collins to do everything they could to block health care reform. Now the editors want them to support it.

Is there an amnesia epidemic at the struggling paper? A rogue copy editor? One wonders.

Of course, the editorial is thinly-reasoned, short on solutions and it scrupulously avoids criticizing Sen. Collins. So those things certainly haven't changed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Where Are The Amendments?

Sen. Collins now says that pending health care legislation, "does not do enough to lower health care costs for all Americans."

It's a more plausible criticism than her objection to the program's size. (Though an odd one given Collins' opposition to a public health plan alternative, which the Congressional Budget Office says would lower costs to consumers.)

But the logical next question, then, is: How does the junior senator propose to achieve these lower costs? Bigger subsidies for middle class insurance buyers? More concessions from drug makers? Something else?

If health care reform is as critical as Collins has always maintained, and if lowering health care costs is a pivotal concern, then what steps is she taking to revise the legislation accordingly?

Or this just more hot air?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Collins Health Big Picture

Watching Sen. Collins talk about health care reform over the last several weeks, it's been hard to suppress a snarky, sarcastic response to her maneuverings. We've certainly been guilty of our share of snide comments.

But it's important not to get desensitized to the staggering hypocrisy of her behavior here.

Remember, the basic thrust of Collins' position on reform is that the legislation making its way through Congress is too expensive.

To drive that point home, she's repeatedly cited a $1.6 trillion ten-year price tag, even though it's long been clear that the package would be much smaller. And her worries about cost aren't easy to square with her position, during last year's campaign, that the Obama health care plan was "pretty good"--and that she was open to supporting it.

But obfuscation and bad faith are really the least of her sins here.

Rather, what's shocking and unforgivable about the junior senator's approach to health care--and what's gone totally unreported both in Maine and in the national media--isn't so much the substance of her critique as its context.

Because while the junior senator now wants us to believe that she's spooked about governmental red ink, her record doesn't just suggest otherwise. It screams otherwise.

Susan Collins, after all, voted for all three Bush tax cuts. She voted for Medicare Part D.

The combined ten-year cost of these four laws is more than three trillion dollars. ($2.1 trillion for tax cuts plus $1.0 trillion for Medicare Part D.)

Health care reform, by contrast, is expected to clock in at less than one-third as much.

What's more, while none of the Bush-era programs were paid for with cuts elsewhere in the budget, President Obama has publicly vowed, in a nationally-televised address, that if health care legislation increases the deficit he will not sign it.

In the context of these facts, the questions practically write themselves: If Collins is so worried about deficits and the debt, where were these worries when she and her GOP colleagues were doling out huge tax breaks to billionaires?

If red ink is such a big issue, why did she vote for a large, unfunded new health care entitlement program just a few years ago? Why does she oppose, on budgetary grounds, a reform package that pays for itself?

And why the fixation on fiscal prudence only after running up trillions of dollars in public debt?

There's simply no way to have a serious, candid discussion about what Collins has been up to lately without facing up to these questions.

Sure would be nice if someone would ask them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Diluter

If you've been following Sen. Susan Collins in recent months--let alone for longer periods--the clear impression that emerges from reading this article is that the junior senators will work to make health care reform less effective and less efficient--before voting against the whole package.

Collins and Lieberman both told The Hill they are more supportive of a "trigger" concept floated by Collins's Senate colleague, Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, which calls for a public option to be implemented if insurance companies fail to fix the current system’s cost inefficiencies.


"I'm opposed to a Washington-run public option," Collins said. "I believe it would cause many people to lose health insurance that they’re currently happy with now, and that’s contrary to the assurances that advocates of the public option have been giving. I'm also concerned about the cost and control issue.

"A trigger is certainly a better approach, but I'm not convinced that we could rely on this administration to resist the lure of triggering the public option."

Collins's wariness comes despite “several” conversations she said she had with Obama in July on the issue, as well as other administration officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Collins isn't convinced that the administration could be trusted to "resist the lure of triggering the public option"--even though the conditions for any trigger would (obviously) be written into the legislation.

Talk about bad faith.

Of course, we all remember how much skepticism Collins showed in her dealings with the previous administration.