The House leadership plans to hold a vote, more or less, on the Senate health care bill this week. President Obama says he wants to “ge[t] rid of many of the provisions that had no place in health care reform — provisions that were more about winning individual votes…than improving health care.” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Democrats will “take the pot‐sweetening out of the process.” Yet Democrats have decided to retain the Senate bill’s $300 million subsidy for the state of Louisiana, commonly known as the “Louisiana Purchase,” and other state‐specific bribes pot‐sweeteners.
On ABC News’s This Week yesterday, Obama advisor David Axelrod argued that the “Louisiana Purchase” is not targeted solely at Louisiana:
The president does believe that state‐only carve‐outs should not be in the bill. There are things in the bill that apply to groupings of states…for example…what has been portrayed as a provision relating to Louisiana says that if a state, if every county in a state is declared a disaster area, they get some extra Medicaid funds. Well, that would apply to any state…
Sure, in theory. But as ABC News reported in November, the bill speaks of “certain states recovering from a major disaster” and “spends two pages describing what could be written with a single world: Louisiana.”
Axelrod would have us believe that after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D‑NV) wrote the best darned bill he could, he slapped his head and said, “Omigosh! The way I worded this one subsidy provision, it would only apply to Louisiana — the home state of a senator whose vote I need! Gee whiz, what are the odds??” Using Axelrod’s rationale, if Reid had included a $10 billion pension for “all African‐American former presidents,” that would not be an Obama‐only pot‐sweetener because it would apply to any African‐American former president.