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)

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.

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." (More pork barrel spending stories.)

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