May 25, 2011

Sure, it's political theater -- but it's smart political theater:

In what amounted to political theater rather than legislative action, the Senate on Wednesday rejected a House budget plan that included a controversial provision to overhaul Medicare and also unanimously voted down President Barack Obama's 2012 budget proposal.

The House budget measure had been expected to fail in the Senate due to overwhelming opposition by majority Democrats, plus wavering support for its Medicare overhaul among Republicans. The Senate GOP has recognized the provision's unpopularity with senior citizens enrolled in the government-run health insurance program.

Senate Democrats forced Wednesday's vote in order to make Senate Republicans go on record in support of the Medicare overhaul.

The final vote on the proposal originated by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, was 57-40, mostly along party lines. Republicans who joined the majority Democrats in opposing the measure were Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine.

Scott Brown was whining:

The Massachusetts Republican had announced Monday that he would oppose the GOP plan after previously saying he would vote for it.

After taking the vote, Brown immediately faulted Majority Leader Harry Reid for "playing divisive political games with our nation’s financial future."

Brown said the Nevada Democrat should instead allow senators to work on "a bipartisan budget that is fiscally responsible and can pass the Senate."

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