Alternative Universes Among La. Senate Delegation

Which one of Louisiana’s two senators has a grasp of reality, and which one is completely delusional?

The reader may decide, but clearly one of the two is off his or her rocker.

There was a protest 400 members strong at Mary Landrieu’s Baton Rouge office yesterday, put on by a number of the Tea Party groups and Louisiana’s Family Resource Center, against Landrieu’s vote for Obamacare. And Landrieu found herself hammered by callers on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal yesterday morning.

But according to the state’s senior senator, she’s just doing what her constituents and Louisiana’s Republican governor want done.

“In my own state of Louisiana, specifically, it said when the bill was actually read to voters, 57 percent of Louisianans supported the bill,” the Advocate quoted her as saying. And on the Senate floor, she expanded on the claim:

A poll by the Mellman Group shows that this support exists in each state, as well. In my own home state of Louisiana, when the provisions of the bill were actually read to voters, 57 percent of Louisianians supported the bill, with 43 percent strongly supporting reform. And, most importantly, 62 pecent Louisianians oppose using the filibuster to stop health care reform.

That Mellman Group poll Landrieu cited to back her claim of support for the bill is a Democrat push-poll – prior to asking the question about support that 57 percent said yes to, respondents were painted a picture with rainbows, unicorns and all-day suckers in it. From the summary Mellman issued on the poll:

This plan would require every American citizen to have health insurance and require large employers to provide coverage to their employees. It would require insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions and prevent them from dropping coverage for people who get sick, while providing incentives for affordable preventive care. Individuals and small businesses that do not have coverage would be able to select a private insurance plan from a range of options sold on a National Insurance Exchange. Lower and middle income people would receive subsidies to help them afford insurance, while those individuals who like the coverage they already have will be able to keep their current plan.

Landrieu also defended her vote yesterday by claiming once again that Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal put her up to it. From the above-linked Times-Picayune article on the subject today:

“It’s been Jindal’s “number one priority,” she said, “something the governor can explain. He won’t defend it because it’s gotten hot in the kitchen; he’s taken a hike. I was raised when the heat gets turned up to fight even harder, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

“I know people don’t believe this but I can’t be bought, and that is not why I’m supporting this bill,” Landrieu said. “I think it’s the right thing for Louisiana and the right thing for America.”

“I am not bowed. I am proud to have done this,” she said of the Medicaid remedy.

This much is definitely a bit of spin, as we’ve discussed on this page. Landrieu’s allies in the state Democrat pantheon have even gone so far as to suggest that Jindal’s people wrote her amendment – and technically that might even be true. But Jindal has been after Landrieu to do something about the Medicaid problem for practically an entire year now; identifying Obamacare as the vehicle for doing so rather than the stimulus, the omnibus, the defense bill or any of the other pork-sozzled legislative behemoths slouching through the Senate over the course of the year is pretty telling, and damning, stuff.

Besides, as the Picayune article states, Jindal’s people don’t exactly agree:

According to FFIS, which tracks the impact of federal policy on state budgets, if Louisiana got the same deal, it would save the state about $64 million a year, though Alan Levine, Louisiana secretary of health and hospitals, said the state has estimated the savings would be more on the order of $130 million a year — $1.3 billion over 10 years.

Vitter seized on that figure in his presentation on the Senate floor to argue that the “Louisiana Purchase” is really the “Louisiana Sellout” because the one-time $300 million Medicaid fix would pale in comparison with the added $1.3 billion in costs the state would eventually bear because of the increased Medicaid eligibility.

Even the $300 million figure is speculative. The CBO scored the cost of the provision at $100 million, Landrieu has said it would amount to $300 million, and Levine estimates it would garner Louisiana $112 million next year and about $250 million the year after — still way shy of the shortfall the state is facing because of the projected decline in the state’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage.

“We never asked for a handout,” Levine said. “We only asked that a flawed federal formula be fixed. Other states are getting pure payouts.” Among the other controversial provisions is one authored by Sen. Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, apparently with his home state in mind. It would provide $100 million for “a health care facility that provides research, inpatient tertiary care or outpatient clinical services,” and is affiliated with an academic health center at a public research university in the United States “that contains a state’s sole public academic medical and dental school.”

“A hundred million for a new hospital in Connecticut?” Levine said. “Are you kidding me? The federal government still hasn’t lived up to their end of the bargain on Charity (Hospital), and even while we are fighting for that, they are giving money to one of the wealthiest states in the country to build a new academic medical center? That’s such a poke in the eye to all the people in New Orleans who have been working for a resolution on Charity.”

Yesterday’s Hayride had the transcript of Vitter’s remarks clobbering Obamacare from the Senate floor. Clearly he’s coming from a different place. And he’s also reading different polls than Landrieu is – like for example the one from last week which shows that since the health care bill moved to the front pages Landrieu’s approval ratings are dive-bombing.

One of the two has a finger on the state’s pulse. The other is a nincompoop. Our readers are free to decide which is which.

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