by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
On Tuesday, the simmering controversy over Obamacare “stability” legislation came to the boil, as conservatives increasingly voiced objections at bailing out Obamacare and giving tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to fund abortion coverage in the process. But the controversy centers around a “deal” of which the precise contents remain a closely guarded secret.
While Democrats deliberated on Obamacare in 2009 and 2010, Republicans frequently attacked the non-transparent process. Then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) went so far as to call the law’s backroom deals “kind of [a] smelly proposition” that empowered Democratic senators “to extract some special deal for them at the expense of everyone else in the country.”
But at least Democrats (eventually) made the text of the Cornhusker Kickback, Louisiana Purchase, Gator Aid, and other provisions public. For the Obamacare “stability” bill, Senate Republican leaders have yet to indicate exactly what legislation they wish to pass.
As I noted last week, while Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) recently claimed in an op-ed that the “stability” legislation would appropriate $10 billion in reinsurance funds for insurers, the public version of legislation to which he referred—a bill introduced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bill Nelson (D-FL)—appropriated “only” $4.5 billion in funds to health insurers. Collins and Alexander are apparently engaging in a bidding war with themselves about how many billions worth of taxpayer dollars they wish to spend on corporate welfare payments to insurance companies.