by Max Brantley
Approval of health legislation brought an in-box full of news releases this morning, mostly Republican noise about repealing the historic advance in coverage of Americans.
But Lt. Gov. Bill Halter also issued a statement calling on Sen. Blanche Lincoln to vote FOR the reconciliation package now before the Senate. She's already said she won't (her reasons include a provision that ends a gravy train for private lenders who are part of her "base".) Sen. Mark Pryor is on board, however.
Nice to see a Democrat appeal to the Democratic wing of the party in a primary election against an incumbent already running like a November Republican. (Even Mary Landrieu sounds like she'll support the Senate vote.)
MEANWHILE: Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce (also part of Lincoln's base) gear up for massive resistance and hope for November fallout.
UPDATE: Or maybe the C of C has had enough of this one.
HALTER NEWS RELEASE
Little Rock – Today Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, candidate for U.S. Senate, applauded the U.S. House of Representatives in passing health care reform and encouraged the Senate and Senator Lincoln to immediately pass the reconciliation bill.
“Washington is broken and it's past time to put the needs of Arkansans ahead of special interests,” said Halter. “While this bill is not perfect, and it could have been improved with more decisive action by Senator Lincoln, it will prevent people from being denied health care insurance due to pre-existing conditions and it will begin to provide more than 450,000 uninsured Arkansans the health care they need. At the same time, the legislation will rein in health care costs and will reduce our national debt. And it helps our seniors who need it most by ending the donut hole in prescription drug coverage and improving Medicare solvency.”
“I urge Senator Lincoln to join me in putting Arkansans first by supporting passage of this bill as soon as possible,” continued Halter. “Arkansans have waited too long for health care reforms. It's time to say no to the insiders, lobbyists and special interests who have fought against progress for Arkansans and to pass this legislation now.”
Senator Lincoln has repeatedly said she would vote against health care reform in the reconciliation bill. Halter spokesperson Bud Jackson noted, “It seems Senator Lincoln is putting the insurance companies, big banks, and other special interests who have given her campaign more than a million dollars in contributions ahead of her constituents in Arkansas.”
Last week Lieutenant Governor Halter held a news conference to indicate his support for student loan reform that is also included in the reconciliation bill. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act will take subsidized profits for big banks out of the process and provide over $67 billion of additional financial resources for students over the next ten years. This legislation will have direct benefits for Arkansas students and students across the country and will help hundreds of thousands of students afford college while ending needless subsidies to the big banks. Additionally the bill will protect American jobs by requiring loans be serviced by U.S. workers.
“I hope Senator Lincoln will change her mind again and join me in supporting this important legislation. The delay and bickering in Washington must stop. The time is now to pass health care and student loan reforms without delay,” concluded Halter.