Sunday, November 22, 2009

Buying the Marginal Vote

Economists say that prices are set at the margin. By that we mean that the last one purchased in the market sets the price. Apparently, the price for a vote in congress is falling. In July the price for a vote for the cap and trade bill in the House was $3.5 billion.

When House Democratic leaders were rounding up votes Friday for the massive climate-change bill, they paid special attention to their colleagues from Ohio who remained stubbornly undecided.

They finally secured the vote of one Ohioan, veteran Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, the old-fashioned way. They gave her what she wanted - a new federal power authority, similar to Washington state's Bonneville Power Administration, stocked with up to $3.5 billion in taxpayer money...

Yesterday, in the Senate, they only had to pay $300 million for the last vote.

To help secure her vote, Reid included a provision in the bill sought by Landrieu to provide increased Medicaid funds for states recovering from major disasters such as 2005’s Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. When the bill is closely examined, however, the provision provides immense financial support for only one state: Landrieu's Louisiana.

Landrieu defended the inclusion of the provision and said Republican critics who accuse her of selling her vote for $100 million are wrong and that she has the support of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Then, in a statement sure to be repeated by Republicans endlessly over the coming weeks of Senate health care debate, the senator flaunted the inclusion of the provision. “I will correct something. It’s not $100 million, it’s $300 million, and I’m proud of it and will keep fighting for it,” Landrieu told reporters after her floor speech...

Economists debate whether deflation is a good thing or a bad thing. They tend to think it is a bad thing.

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