At almost 80 years old, Thomas Jefferson foresaw the corruption of a federal government with too much power, when he wrote to William T. Barry in 1822, just a few years before his death: "If ever this vast country is brought under a single government, it will be one of the most extensive corruption(s), indifferent and incapable of a wholesome care over so wide a spread of surface." "Wholesome care" like universal health care?
I waited until the new year to write this column because Washington was hoping its Christmas corruption would evade the majority of holiday revelers or become old news to even political junkies and pundits, who now are moving on to new issues. (This White House astutely understands and utilizes news cycles and calendars far better than any previous administration.)
While you passed out Christmas gifts to loved ones, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid passed out Christmas bonuses via the passing of the Senate health care bill -- what I call perpetual pork, gifts that keep on giving, unlike those familiar single hits at the public trough. He initiated a new frontier in pork barrel politics. His corrupt and creative diversions included giving out Medicaid and Medicare credits like another round of pork projects.
This health care pork round all started with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who bragged about receiving a $300 million increase in Medicaid funding for her state (what some are calling the Second Louisiana Purchase), though it turned out that it was only $100 million. (Isn't that a relief?)
Then there was the now infamous Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who gained his 15 minutes of yuletide fame when he sold out his critical 60th vote to pass Obamacare by accepting a governmental bribe that covers Nebraska's Medicare expansion costs to the tune of $100 million over the next 10 years.
Obama had told the AARP back on July 28 that he considered Medicare Advantage an example of "wasteful spending," so you could bet Obamacare would reflect his commentary. And in a statement released after the Senate's health care bill passed Dec. 24, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., confessed that he had a sweetheart deal made behind closed doors: "I was able to pass an amendment to the bill that excluded some 800,000 policyholders all across Florida from cuts to Medicare Advantage."
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., finagled $600 million in additional Medicaid benefits for his state over 10 years.
Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad of North Dakota secured additional Medicare payments for their rural hospitals.