Is Senator Mary Landrieu Louisiana’s $300 million woman? In exchange for her cloture vote to move the healthcare bill forward, Landrieu secured big money for the state’s Medicaid program. According to Landrieu, the state needed the “fix” and “she was not going to be defensive about it.”
Whether the $300 million Medicaid payment is needed or not, it should be debated on its own merits and not inserted in an unrelated healthcare bill. It is typical of what is wrong with Washington D.C. and the reason that bills such as the healthcare plan are 2,074 pages long.
While some in Louisiana Gov. Jindal’s administration and in the media say that Landrieu should be “applauded” for her move, it will not register with most Louisiana voters. In contrast, her vote to end the Republican filibuster of the healthcare bill forward will be long remembered. Clearly the Democratic plan is not popular in Louisiana. In Landrieu’s one town hall meeting on the issue, opponents expressed their distaste for the bill and plainly outnumbered supporters. On my Ringside radio show, the vast majority of callers were firmly opposed to the bill.
In the days leading up to the vote, Landrieu’s offices across the state were inundated with calls, faxes and e-mails from opponents of the plan. The volume of calls was so large that her office’s voice mail box was full and the phones were turned off. This led many opponents of the plan to personally visit one of Landrieu’s state offices to express their disapproval. Yet, Landrieu must have extrasensory ability like the bionic woman and sensed support in the state that was inaudible to the rest of us. Like Lindsay Wagner, Mary Landrieu must have bionic hearing, very fitting for a $300 million woman.
Another possibility is that Landrieu was following orders from her party leaders, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev). On the same day that she announced her vote in favor of Reid’s motion to get the bill to the Senate floor for debate, it was revealed that Landrieu will be hosting a huge fundraiser for Reid in New Orleans. It did not look good for Landrieu to announce this $4,800 per person event right after securing the $300 million Medicaid funding. Many skeptics will see this as politics as usual: a quid pro quo.
Landrieu does not have to worry about re-election for another five years, but Reid faces a tough fight next year. Reid is the liberal face of the Senate Democrats and is becoming more unpopular each day in his home state. He is associated with the radical liberal agenda of President Obama, which includes the stimulus plan and his newest outrage, the healthcare bill.
As Reid and company are pushing the bill, the American people are turning against it in droves. The latest Rasmussen poll shows only 38% of Americans support the bill while 56% oppose it. It could be one reason why Democrats are rushing to pass the bill as soon as possible, hoping that Americans might forget come election time next year.
Because of her vote, Landrieu is facing plenty of outrage in Louisiana. Some people are pushing for a recall campaign, even though it is probably unconstitutional for a U.S. Senate position. Others will protest in front of the mansion where Landrieu will be hosting her Reid fundraiser.
All of this makes for an interesting political environment for Landrieu in Louisiana. In her home state, Landrieu was re-elected last year, but voters overwhelmingly preferred John McCain for President. Louisiana is largely a conservative state and one that remains skeptical of the benefits of this healthcare plan. At least that is what my ears are telling me. I might have a different outlook, if only I possessed Mary Landrieu’s bionic hearing.