Beat the Clock was a 1950's game show where couples tried to complete stunts within a certain time limit for prizes. It stayed on TV in one form or another until 1980 or so. It was a simple game and a classic of early American TV. I remember the host was Bud Collyer. But wait- it has not gone away. It only moved over to the US Senate where if you know how, you can compete for far grander prizes than TV ever offered.
Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska has true conviction regarding his abortion views and was troubled by the language in the bill the Senate looked set to pass reforming health care in America.
He was holding out.
The bill would extend health benefits by, says the New York Times, "Expanding Medicaid and providing subsidies to help moderate income people buy private insurance. It would require nearly all Americans to obtain insurance or pay financial penalties for failing to do so." In place of the fiercely debated "public option" the Senate bill would create at least two national insurance plans modeled after those offered Federal workers (Senators included.) There is a long-term-care insurance program. It also bars insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and limits how much extra a company can charge due to age (I think I like that one.)
All this will cost, says the nonpartisan Congressional Budget office, $871 billion over ten years.
I love the exactitude of $871 billion.
Not $870, or "about $900", but no, it's $871 to the million.
This will be paid for by new taxes and fees and reductions in government spending, especially Medicare. I heard on a Sunday talk show that the Medicare savings will be over $400 billion. (Why don't I believe that will ever happen?) Senator Nelson got the language regarding abortion restrictions but he also got an increase in Federal grants to cover a Medicaid expansion in his state of Nebraska. Only Nebraska got this special extension. He also won an exemption from an insurance tax for Mutual of Omaha. He was not the only one, though. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana obtained an extra $300 million in Medicaid funds for her state for being open minded enough to be convinced of the bill's merits. Waiting to the 12th hour when the administration has its mind set on getting a bill passed this year is a good time to play Beat the Clock. I thought this was the "Greatest deliberative body in history." Maybe it is. Politics is the art of the possible but it does feel a bit disappointing to read the fine print.