Make a Deal With Mary Landrieu

landrieuNew Orleans Senate debate is scheduled for tonight on Senator Reid’s patchwork quilt healthcare bill and as everyone head counts central figures become the ridiculous Joe Lieberman from Connecticut, the uncertain Blanche Lincoln preparing for a re-election campaign in Arkansas, and the go-with-the-wind Mary Landrieu from Louisiana, where I pull a lever.

I’m betting we get Mary’s vote on healthcare and she bails on labor law reform and maybe later on immigration, if it ever comes to a vote.

The maverick vote from Republican outlier Joseph Gao for the House healthcare reform who was the only member of the GOP to break ranks and vote with the Democratic majority helps pave the way for Landrieu partially because it once again underscores how deeply and desperately there is an understanding of the healthcare crises in Louisiana and the number of people left out of any insurance coverage.  It also helps that abortion funding has become embattled in the House healthcare package.  This has been the one area where Mary has consistently, and to her credit, actually showed conviction and political courage by standing firm with her base of women support even when it has encouraged the wrath and threats of excommunication from the Catholic hierarchy in Louisiana.  It would be hard for her to find forgiveness if she went south on this.  She also knows that if she votes for the Reid bill she can hide behind the state “opt out” on the public option, because she knows that’s going to be a huge fight in Louisiana, and she can say she’s on the sideline, “it’s up to Louisiana,” and take a walk on that.

The final kicker was the news reported that she had negotiated an agreement on the Senate side for a $100 to $300 million dollar bailout for Louisiana’s Medicare payment problems from the feds.  I’m not saying she traded her vote for this little sweetener.  This was just a little Louisiana leverage applied for some lagniappe to help her make the sale on a vote she has clearly decided to finally cast the right way for her desperate constituency.

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