Thune will Ironic Johnny is still against providing Americans affordable Healthcare, but Pine Beetles prevention? Money well spent.


First he turns hisback on working Americans;

Senate Republicans predicted on Wednesday that the 40 members of their caucus would unanimously oppose health care reform despite changes made by Democratic leadership to make the product more palatable to conservatives.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told the Huffington Post that he did not think the dropping of a public option for insurance coverage from the bill would be enough for Democrats to win even the support of moderate Republican Senators Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins, both of Maine.

“I just think that our side believes that it is a really bad idea to take a program that is already sinking and put more people into it.”

Both Thune and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said they thought the last minute alterations to the Senate’s version of health care — specifically the decision to expand Medicare coverage to those as young as 55-years-old — was a “Hail Mary” attempt on the part of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to amass the votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

“This is like Groundhog Day. It is déjà vu all over again where we wake up every day and there is a new idea to try and figure out how to get to 60 votes,” said Thune.

Pointing out that Sen. Joseph Lieberman’ (I-Conn.) supported a Medicare buy-in provision in the 2000 campaign, Thune added: “Maybe that is what they are trying to tie into — something he supported in the past. I don’t know how that helps them with moderates on their side who have expressed concern about government-run health care. But they are obviously figuring out how to pick off one or more of their own.”

It does appear that Reid and his deputies believe that the most recent round of compromises will yield them the needed votes to cut of a Republican filibuster. The quick moving debate, however, has meant that there is a paucity of details about the actual legislation. On Wednesday, Republicans sought to latch on to the one provision that has been widely reported — the Medicare buy-in — painting it as a financial death sentence for hospitals and a killer for doctors.

“We had never heard of such a proposal before in all of the proposals that were being made and we don’t know the details yet,” said McCain. “But the American Medical Association and the American Hospitals Association and a whole lot of other groups have heard enough that they are against this provision.”

Told that under the Democrats proposal, 55-to-64-year-olds who want to be covered by Medicare would have to pay a premium, the senator still foresaw budgetary ruin for the government-run program.

“Number one, obviously the premiums that are paid in now aren’t enough because the Medicare trustees have stated the system is going bankrupt in seven years,” said McCain. “Number two is, there is a concern that people who have pre-existing conditions can’t get insurance anywhere else. Third of all, you would be expanding, over time the population in Medicare dramatically at a much earlier time.

“I always thought that Medicare was a way to take care of our senior citizens,” he concluded. “That was the original design. And I think, and maybe it’s from my vantage point, but I consider 55 to be pretty young.”

But $40 million for pine beetle control? No problem;

Sen. John Thune expressed misgivings Wednesday about federal spending plans for the Troubled Assets Relief Program, health care reform and a potential second round of stimulus money that could bolster state budgets.

“I say that knowing South Dakota is facing difficult budget projections,” Thune said.

But he praised a U.S. Forest Service offer of $40 million to fight pine beetles.

“That’s really important now. This pine beetle thing has gotten out of control. It’s gotten to the point where we need to do some more aggressive management and reprogram funds to where the highest need is.”

Only ironic Johnny would pick pine beetle control over healthcare.


#1 Ghost of Dude on 12.10.09 at 7:58 am

Quick way to control the pine beetles:

Either allow a shitload more logging in the hills, or let the infested areas of the forest burn.

#2 l3wis on 12.10.09 at 8:02 am

I’m not against Fed funding for this project, but $40 million? C’mon on. You could insure 27,600 kids for one year for that money.

#3 Costner on 12.10.09 at 8:34 am

I kind of think your barking up the wrong tree on this one Lewis (is that a pun)?

Those pine beetles are getting out of control and could potentially eradicate huge sections of the black hills if they are left unchecked. We need funding for research to find out a way to kill them off so we don’t have to continue to fight this for future generations.

I don’t really see this is a A vs. B issue in terms of healthcare. Pine Beetles aren’t political and thus Thune doesn’t have to worry about being seen as supporting an idea from a Democrat, thus he is free to push it. Health care on the other hand he can never support as that would ruin his 100% GOP to the core image.

Remember that rally cry that Daschle was putting the interests of his political party above those of his state and thus we needed new leadership? It took Tommy about 20 years to get to that point but it takes Thune one term.

I’d say it is time for some new leadership.

#4 l3wis on 12.10.09 at 8:46 am

I agree we need to control them, but don’t you think this is typical of Thune? He is all for ‘Pork’ for his state, as long as it benefits wildlife groups and hunters, but healthcare? No way. I also think that it is ironic that he would support funding for such a ‘hippy enviromental’ cause.

He is the biggest hypocrite in the history of South Dakota. I would love to tell him that to his face.

#5 Ghost of Dude on 12.10.09 at 9:33 am

Pine beetles are just nature’s way of telling us the hills are too crowded with trees. Take a look at the pictures Custer’s people took in the hills when they first went through, then compare them to today. The trees need to be thinned out. The pine beetles are one way nature does it, fire is another.
Unless we start doing more logging or controlled burns, the pine beetle infestation will only get worse.

Why it costs $40 million to do all that is beyond me. Seems like the burns could be started with a few matches, and logging rights could actually make money for the forest service.

#6 Costner on 12.10.09 at 10:05 am

I would hope the $40M is more directed at research to find ways of eradicating the pest rather than just treating the symptom, but if it is just earmarked for “treatment programs” or logging – then it is nothing more than a handout to special interests.

And Lewis – I agree that Thune loves his pork, but then he turns around and whines about deficit spending and the debt our nation carries. Our state takes in more federal dollars every year than we send out – so when he does things like this… he is just part of the problem rather than the solution.

Unfortunately Johnson and Herseth-Sandlin think the same way. Everyone plays the game to see how much bacon they can bring home, and it leads to the situation we have in Washington.

#7 Ghost of Dude on 12.10.09 at 10:35 am

Allowing companies to log in more of the national forest would be a money maker, not just a handout.
And flames have a way of eradicating insects. Very effective.

#8 Costner on 12.10.09 at 11:58 am

Depends upon the lease prices and who gets the contracts. If you find logging companies are leasing the tracts for 60% less than market rates, and you find those contracts going to political benefactors – then it would seem to be a handout.

I agree with you on the fires however. We have done such a bang-up job of putting out smaller forest fires that the forest can never naturally clean itself. Eventually the underbrush builds up and when we do have a fire it is much larger.

What we should be doing is allowing logging companies to go in and clean out the dead and dying trees and thin the population a tad so we can stay ahead of it. We don’t need to clearcut vast areas, but a little maintenance would go a long way.

#9 Ghost of Dude on 12.10.09 at 1:14 pm

Thinning out the forest would make it much more difficult for the pine beetles to spread.

#10 anominous on 12.10.09 at 9:52 pm

Are them things edible?

#11 l3wis on 12.10.09 at 11:51 pm

Yeah, they taste like Prairie Dogs.

#12 Ghost of Dude on 12.11.09 at 7:52 am

Only crunchy.

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