Wednesday, Jan 27, 2010, 9:27 am
Weekly Pulse: Did Wiretappers Target Senator Over Healthcare Deal?
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium Blogger
The conservative videographer who donned a pimp suit to embarrass the anti-poverty group ACORN was arrested in New Orleans, LA for allegedly conspiring to bug the office of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.
It's not clear why Landrieu was targeted, but many suspect that she was singled out because she played a pivotal role in advancing health care reform.
Filmmaker James O'Keefe and three other men have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony, according to Justin Elliott of TPM Muckraker. At RH Reality Check, Rachel Larris notes that, if convicted, the four could face up to 10 years in prison.
Like chum in the conservative shark tank
Landrieu, a conservative Democrat, negotiated an extra $100 million in Medicaid funds for Louisiana in exchange for allowing the health care bill to come to the senate floor. Accepting health care for the poor in the interest of health reform was like chum in the conservative shark tank.
Rush Limbaugh called her the most expensive prostitute of all time. "She may be easy, but she's not cheap," crowed Glenn Beck. It got so bad that Democrats call on Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) was called upon to denounce the chorus of conservatives attacking his fellow Louisiana senator as a prostitute. (Correction: Vitter did not call Landrieu a prostitute.)
O'Keefe must have realized that an exposé of Mary Landrieu would be a hot commodity.
"This is Watergate meets YouTube," said Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn said on MSNBC's Hardball last night.
Health care reform in limbo
The arrests could not have come at a better time for the Democrats. Health care reform is in limbo as congressional leaders plan their next move after losing their filibuster-proof majority. The bugging scandal is deflecting attention from tense internal negotiations.
Brian Beutler of TPMDC reports that the House Democrats are converging on a strategy to get reform done: The House will pass the Senate bill and the Senate will fix it through budget reconciliation.
The Republican counter-strategy
While the Democrats agonize over what to do next, that senate Republicans are honing strategies to thwart any Democratic attempt to pass health care reform through budget reconciliation, as Dave Weigel reports in the Washington Independent. The reconciliation process allows both sides to vote on unlimited number of amendments. GOP leadership is hinting that if Dems take the reconciliation route, they will be forced to vote on every politically embarrassing amendment the opposition can dream up.
The stakes are high. In the American Prospect, Paul Starr reminds progressives that there's till a lot worth fighting for, even without a public option. For all its faults, the Senate bill would still cover 30 million uninsured Americans, expand Medicaid, end discrimination based on preexisting conditions, and set up exchanges designed to keep rising insurance premiums in check.
A memo for reform
Finally, our sources tell us that Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly is making quite a stir on Capitol Hill with his memo advising the House Democratic caucus on the need to forge ahead with health care reform. In 1994, conservative commentator William Kristol wrote a health care memo to Republicans that became the backbone of their anti-reform strategy, even up to the present day. Benen hopes his memo will be a useful counterweight for Democrats. Benen warns the Democrats that it's far riskier to fail than to pass reform that doesn't please everyone.
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Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times' City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://www.hillmanfoundation.org/hillmanblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.