Mary Landrieu’s Famous Last Words

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) just put out a statement on the Obamacare decision at the Supreme Court which she might very well regret in the near future – it will certainly come back to haunt her in two years.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling today confirms what many people of goodwill believed all along – that Congress’ historic efforts to provide a more affordable and equitable system of health care for our nation is within its constitutional prerogatives.

After months of heated debate throughout 2009 and 2010, Congress approved a public-private delivery model relying on the ‘individual mandate’ that requires all Americans to maintain health care coverage while providing subsidies to individuals and businesses who are unable to afford their full premiums. These graduated subsidies will be provided for individuals and families whose incomes are up to 400 percent of the poverty level, or $14,404 to $43,320 for individuals and $29,326 to $88,200 for a family of four in Louisiana.

There were three other paths available for Congress to consider, including the public option, a single-payer system known as ‘Medicare for All,’ and an employer mandate, an expansion of what is common among companies now. The individual mandate was chosen because it represents a combination of personal responsibility and community support, which allows and in fact encourages competition in the marketplace and avoided a direct mandate on businesses at a time of economic downturn.

I am proud of my work to make this law a reality. Its benefits are clear. It reduces the deficit by more than $1 trillion over 20 years, provides security to millions of middle class and low-income Americans who need and depend on affordable health care that now cannot be taken away, and over the long run, will improve health outcomes for our entire population.

Now that the Supreme Court has made this clear by its ruling, it is the obligation of the states to fully implement and expedite the Affordable Care Act.”

Not included in that boilerplate is an admission that the Supreme Court confirmed what Landrieu really voted for was a $1.7 trillion tax increase; something that will be repeated ad nauseam for the next two years.

What will be interesting – and for Landrieu, uncomfortable – will be the effect should the GOP gain control of the Senate and Mitt Romney the White House in November. We’ve always expected both to happen; the Senate is all but a foregone conclusion now, and the Romney campaign now has a compelling specific rationale for election – a mobilizing political issue which can focus its campaign in a way “the economy” just won’t do.

Because if the Senate and the White House go to the GOP, there will be a repeal vote on Obamacare in the Senate in January, and Landrieu will have to vote in favor of it again.

We all know she was going to vote for it anyway when it initially passed, but she managed to wrangle the Louisiana Purchase out of her vote.

Except now it appears that bribe won’t actually materialize, or at least not as it was originally sold when Landrieu announced it…

Congressional Republicans have been pushing to find ways to offset some of the costs for the highway program, and Landrieu said the Medicaid cut was proposed by House leaders to help pay for the transportation bill.

“It’s not right. It’s unfair. It’s wrong. And I have no idea why they proposed it,” Landrieu said.

Despite her complaints, Landrieu didn’t say she expected the Medicaid cut would be removed from the measure before it passes Congress this week.

Congress is facing a weekend deadline to settle on a final version of the transportation bill because the highway programs are due to expire Saturday.

“If Congress does this to us, we’ll have to be prepared to deal with it,” Rainwater said.

The state could lose as much as $425 million in direct federal funding in the 2012-13 budget year and another $226 million the following year. But Greenstein said the full impact would be far higher under the complex formula for Medicaid funding, with state and federal matching dollars tallied.

“It will not be painless by any stretch. This comes after several years of reductions already, but the state has only a certain budget to work with. The Medicaid program will go on,” Greenstein said.

The special Medicaid adjustment added to the federal health care overhaul two years ago applied only to Louisiana and has been a long-running point of dispute in federal spending discussions.

And that means Landrieu is going to have to stand behind Obamacare as good policy – something she’s going to be fighting a major uphill battle to do – without having any carrots to offer beyond that vote. She’ll probably also be doing it with Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is probably the state’s foremost critic of Obamacare and a medical doctor to boot, running against her.

Everything she says in favor of Obamacare between now and then is going to be added to the file. It makes for a hard road to re-election for Louisiana’s last remaining Democrat officeholder.

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