Yesterday, truth serum was surreptitiously administered to the members of the Senate Finance Committee after they emerged from voting down two public option amendments to their committee's proposed health insurance reform legislation. After receiving his dose, cleverly added to his water glass while he wasn't looking, ranking Republican member Charles Grassley stepped up to the podium and made the case for defeating the public option very clearly: "We cannot allow the American people to have the choice of a publicly-administered insurance plan. The public plan would probably cost less and deliver better service than any private plan. That is the last thing the American people need." Gulping down his shot of truth serum, his colleague Orrin Hatch chimed in, "My friends in the insurance industry say that if private insurance companies have to compete with a public plan, there is no way they will be able to provide their executives with the summer homes and yachts they deserve. These people have been providing valuable services to their shareholders by finding ways to deny coverage to millions of unhealthy Americans. Why should they be deprived of their piece of the American dream?" Senator John Kyl then provided a political perspective: "If we Republicans can just stick together, the Democrats might not be able to pass any bill at all, given all the disagreements among their members. It is absolutely critical that we prevent reform from happening, otherwise Americans might be so grateful to the Democrats for finally establishing the right of all Americans to decent, affordable health insurance that the Republicans will never win an election again."
Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, who was also slipped a dash of truth serum before he spoke, was asked why he and several other Democrats had voted against a public option, even though it is supported by nearly all of their Democratic colleagues, and over 60% of the American people. "Well on the one hand you have the Democratic party, and over 60% of the American people. But on the other hand, look at the millions of dollars of campaign contributions I have personally received from the insurance industry. What have the Democrats or the American people done for me to match that?" Senator Conrad, another of the three Democrats who voted against the Schumer amendment, quickly added: "We don't want people to get the idea that Democrats are able to resolve their differences and govern effectively. That would destroy one of the great traditions of the Democratic Party. Plus, it will be much easier for me to get re-elected if I can stand up and tell my constituents that I helped contribute to continuing gridlock in Washington. I still score points back home by claiming to be anti-government." "Look," said Senator Blanche Lincoln, "this is not about doing what is best for the Democratic Party. It's not even about doing what is best for the American people. This country was founded on good old-fashioned values of self-reliance and independence. That means that I vote according to what is best for Blanche Lincoln. That's the American way."
The gathered reporters thanked the senators for their most informative press conference in some time.