THE TREATMENT OCTOBER 13, 2009
Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, just now before the Senate Finance Committee, said she would vote to move the Baucus bill out of committee.
She warned that she still wanted improvements and put down some markers, making clear she won't support a bill that moves substantially in the direction of what the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed. But, she said, "When history calls, history calls." That it does.
Is this a good thing? At the Washington Post, Ezra Klein says yes. A vote against the bill, he says, would have empowered Ben Nelson, just like it did on the stimulus package. Over at the Stash, Noam disagrees. The yes vote, he says, will empower Snowe, just like it did on the stimulus package.
As you can see, the underlying problem here is the same either way: Because of the Senate's structure (over-representation of rural population) and procedures (the filibuster), reform can't pass without the support of centrists who will want a smaller bill.
(For what it's worth, I think I've come around to Ezra's view. Then again, I'm the guy who speculated that Snowe would vote no to preserve her leverage. So what do I know?)