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Pork Applied Liberally to Grease Health Care Votes

Critics slam Senate bill's special deals for holdouts
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2009 7:36 AM CST
Pork Applied Liberally to Grease Health Care Votes
Critics complain that the Senate's health bill contains an almost unprecedented level of pork-barrel spending.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – A close look at the health bill before the Senate reveals that there was no shortage of pork-barrel spending thrown in to get the Democrats the 60 votes they needed. The "cash-for-cloture" deals include one dubbed the "Louisiana Purchase"—$100 million in Medicare cash for the state. Another one labeled the "Cornhusker Kickback" provides $100 million for holdout Sen. Ben Nelson's Nebraska, the Washington Post reports. Chris Dodd threw in $100 million for a medical center in his state, quickly dubbed the "U Con." And the list goes on.

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The wheeling and dealing is all part of politics, Harry Reid told reporters, but critics say the deals have raised the stakes for future swing voters. "Once people see a leader willing to take these kinds of deals, people have a tendency to withhold their votes until they get a similar deal," a political science professor tells Politico. "If you hold out, you, too, can be Ben Nelson, perhaps." (Read more pork barrel spending stories.)

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