After demanding three weeks ago that Louisiana Sen. David Vitter denounce conservative critics of colleague Mary Landrieu for her “Louisiana Purchase” trick, then unsuccessfully turning their guns on Gov. Bobby Jindal last week for refusing to side with Landrieu, the state’s Democrats are back after Vitter today.
The vehicle in this case is Vitter’s opposition to Harry Reid’s healthcare nightmare. Since Landrieu had Louisiana’s Medicaid funding fix, which Jindal had begun asking for 10 months prior with no response, into the bill before voting to open debate on it and in so doing creating a national stink about the brazen deal-making, attempts to fix the Medicaid funding formula before it unjustly clobbers the state’s budget are rather toxic politically.
And one of Vitter’s conservative allies in the Senate, Tom Coburn, has an amendment pending which would strip Landrieu’s amendment out of the bill.
Given the low opinion of that amendment nationally, Coburn’s is a great political move. All Senate Republicans save perhaps Vitter will vote in favor of stripping Louisiana of the Medicaid cash, putting Democrats in the difficult position of either endorsing the Louisiana Purchase, which won’t be popular with their constituents back home, or voting to embarrass Landrieu and Harry Reid.
Naturally, that’s not how the situation is being reported. The Baton Rouge Advocate’s Gerald Shields has a piece in today’s edition talking about how Vitter is in a trick box as a result of the maneuverings.
Shields picked up this quote from Landrieu…
“He should be voting to support his state,” Landrieu said Wednesday. “This was the No. 1 request of our governor.”
He also got this gem from Charlie Melancon, who’s fleeing a likely electoral rubout in the 7th Congressional District in favor of a likely electoral rubout at Vitter’s hands next year…
Democratic U.S. Rep. Charles “Charlie” Melancon, of Napoleonville, agreed with Landrieu, saying Vitter’s vote against Coburn should be a “no brainer.”
Melancon is running to replace Vitter in the U.S. Senate.
“It’s ironic that he is now torn between the allegiance of his friend or his allegiance to the people of Louisiana,” Melancon said. “I don’t think it’s complicated … I think it’s putting Louisiana first.”
And a Politico piece yesterday on the Vitter/Coburn/Landrieu imbroglio had a tasty quote from the state’s Democrat Party:
“Back here in Louisiana, making sure the federal government pays its share for health care to the poor and uninsured could determine whether our state government shuts its doors next summer,” said Kevin Frank, a spokesman for the Louisiana Democratic Party.
Vitter, who told the Politico that he was “extremely uncomfortable” with Landrieu sticking the Medicaid money in Reid’s bill, hasn’t taken a position on Coburn’s amendment. If it’s going to lose anyway, he’ll probably vote against it. But even if he votes for it, all he’ll do is give Melancon and the state Democrat hacks something to spin up faux outrage about (which they’re going to do with some other perceived wrongdoing of Vitter’s regardless).
All of this is a lie and a joke anyway. As Dick Morris writes today on BigGovernment.com, Reid’s bill expands Medicaid to people making 150 percent of the poverty line, which imposes a massive unfunded mandate on the states and, according to Morris, will nail Louisiana taxpayers to the wall for an additional $500 million. So Vitter, according to the Democrats, is screwing the Louisiana taxpayers by opposing legislation that would lighten the load on us by some $300 million in one-time money while at the same time costing us $500 million a year.
Democrats are good at manufacturing fake outrage. But as this whole fiasco shows, they’re even better at manufacturing real outrages which affect real people. And while Landrieu and her friends are busy attempting to tarnish Jindal and Vitter over this health care nightmare, the fact is that Louisiana is no different than the rest of the country in our inability to afford and refusal to stomach a terrible bill they’re creating in Washington.