By now everyone is well aware of the sweetheart deal that Ben Nelson extracted from Harry Reid for the taxpayers of Nebraska. In exchange for his vote in favor of Obamacare, Nelson made sure that all of America's taxpayers pick up the cost of the mandatory Medicaid expansion in the bill - and not those of Nebraska. Nelson's deal is unethical, unfair, and some argue that it's unconstitutional. But at least it's understandable. Nelson opposes the Medicaid mandate, and recognizes that it will force the state to raise taxes in tough economic times. It's not hard to understand why he fought to spread the pain among all American taxpayers, rather than those of Nebraska, only.
What is harder to understand is the motivation of other Democrat Senators - particularly those who support the Medicaid mandate, support the health care overhaul, and did not care about the damage it would do to struggling state budgets. I'm looking at you, Barbara Boxer.
Just this week, California's liberal Governor took aim at the Reid-Pelosi health care overhaul. His strong language must have stung the Californians who played such a large part in crafting the bill: Boxer, Feinstein, Pelosi, and others. Even Governor Schwarzenegger had the good sense to leave his ideology at the door when he realized the bill would bankrupt the state; not so with Boxer. Even when her antidiluvian liberalism obviously conflicts with the state's interests, she'd rather tell the voters of her state to pound sand than give up on a government takeover of health care.
If you're wondering why Barbara Boxer cannot break 50% in polls of her Senate race, it's likely because even the voters of deep-blue California recognize that Boxer is too extreme.
California is currently facing an extraordinarily awful budget crisis, brought on by out-of-control spending by virtue of things like the 2005-06 budget, which raised general fund expenditures by 10% in just one budget cycle. Not only is Boxer unconcerned about the damage Obamacare will do to health care quality and reliability, she's also unconcerned about the impact on California's budget. Boxer's opponents by contrast, recognize the problems (for example, here).
Beyond her slavish devotion to statism, Boxer is ineffective as a legislator. In three terms in the Senate, she's gotten 3 bills enacted into law. Is this more due to her own laziness, or her colleagues' recognition that she's extreme? You be the judge of that one.
And instead of actually educating herself on issues of importance to her constituents and her state, Boxer prefers to substitute ideology for facts. Despite the central role that the Medicaid expansion occupies in the health care debate, and its impact on the finances of the state she represents, Boxer has been forced to resort to faking her way through discussions about the proposal - as she recently did on the Ed Schultz show:
It's sort of old hat to observe that Boxer is ineffective and lazy, and far more concerned with the endless expansion of the federal government than with tending to the needs of her state. But it is true. And it's reason enough for the voters of California to boot her from the Senate this year. And if she continues so obviously to ignore the concerns of those voters, they might even do it.