E.J. Dionne has a column discussing, generally, the culture of corruption in Congress. Guess whose name pops up?
Consider federal health programs. The House bill proposed substantial cuts in Medicaid, but the Senate bill -- partly because of pressure from moderate Republicans -- did not include them. Instead, the Senate proposed to save taxpayer money by eliminating a $10 billion fund to encourage regional Preferred Provider Organizations, known as PPOs, to participate in the Medicare program. It also sought more rebates to the federal government from drug manufacturers participating in Medicaid.
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who voted against the original Senate budget bill because it was too stringent on the poor, voted for the even tougher version. According to Congress Daily, Coleman backed the final budget "after negotiators took out cuts affecting his state's sugar beet growers." Coleman told the paper: "Karl Rove called me and asked what I wanted. A few hours later it was out of the bill."
Lo, the beauty of it all. First, Sen. Smilin' Norm Coleman (R-MN) votes against a bill before he votes for it. In a sane world, this would forgive bar Smilin' Norm from uttering the phrase "flip flopper" again. Sadly, we do not live in a sane world.
The really interesting point here is the sugar beet subsidies. Remember back when Smilin' Norm was waffling on CAFTA. Coleman voted for CAFTA, but only after securing pledges (more here and here) to protect domestic sugar producers. Four months after securing protections for Minnesota sugar beet growers, Smilin' Norm sells his vote to cut Medicaid to secure protections for Minnesota sugar beet growers.
Gee...it's almost like you can't trust Karl Rove...