After Health Care, Hostility

By Libby Casey

President Obama may have signed major health care legislation into law two days ago, but debate – and hostility –continues in the nation’s capital. 

The Senate passed today a bill of “fixes” to the health care legislation, on a vote of 56 to 43, despite Republican attempts to stall passage or derail it by introducing a series of amendments.  Democrats said they wouldn’t vote for them, because they would hold-up their bill.  Republicans designed some of the amendments to make Democrats look bad for voting against them.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski contributed to the effort with an amendment to keep high-earning Americans from paying more in Medicare taxes because of inflation.

This is about an 86 billion dollar tax hike, so what my amendment does is very simple, contain the damage we’ll see by indexing for inflation the wage threshold for those subject to the tax increase.

It predictably failed along party lines.  Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana spoke afterward and said while it’s a good idea, he thinks it goes about it the wrong way by taking money from the stimulus funds.

Republicans also shut down unrelated hearings yesterday all over Capitol Hill because of the health care fight.  That didn’t sit well with members of a Senate Armed Services Committee taking testimony military health issues, including Alaska Democratic Senator Mark Begich.

He urged Democratic chairman Jim Webb of Virginia, and top Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to keep working.

Can we, with or without it can we continue on, and have it as a non-hearing-hearing, make the rules up as we go.  I mean these guys have come…

WEBB:  I suppose we can go into informal conversation if they cancel the hearing at 11, I don’t know what that would do with the official transcript of the hearing.

BEGICH:  I think this is an important issue.

GRAHAM:  I want to hear what they’ve got to say but we’ll figure out…

WEBB:  OK let’s proceed.

With the support of Republican Graham, they continued the hearing.  But not all exchanges on Capitol Hill this week have been so bipartisan.  House Democrats have received threatening and hostile messages for their health care vote, and bricks thrown through office windows.  Members of both sides are blaming the other party for roiling tensions.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was criticized for her anti-Democratic Party messages online, like “don’t retreat, reload” and putting a map on her fundraising page with crosshairs over districts she plans to “target” this fall in the midterm elections.


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