Snowe acknowledges health care talks

SNOWE ACKNOWLEDGES HEALTH CARE TALKS…. There were reports this week that some Senate Democrats had once again decided to reach out to Maine’s Republican senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, about health care reform. Yesterday, Snowe acknowledged some talks had, in fact, already occurred.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said Friday that she has been in conversation with Democrats and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus about a way forward on health care reform.

“I have talked with several of my Democratic colleagues, including the chairman of the Finance Committee, just sorting through these issues, and the process, and what will unfold,” Snowe told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Friday afternoon. “Hopefully, [Democrats] will take measure of what needs to happen now, build some support, those things can happen so that it’s not [so] breathtakingly expansive that [it] creates consternation by the American people at a time will can ill-afford intrinsic costs.”

As a substantive matter, this is, at best, incomplete. Snowe didn’t even want health care reform to get a vote in the Senate because it’s “expansive”? This is a new concern — she had been complaining about the slow process not being slow enough — and without some additional details, it’s not at all clear what Snowe would prefer in terms of expansiveness.

But it’s worth noting that the final bill out of the Senate Finance Committee was pretty similar to the final bill considered on the Senate floor — and Snowe voted with Democrats to support the measure in committee. A few months later, she voted to (1) block the Senate from have a floor debate on health care reform; (2) characterize health care reform as “unconstitutional”; and (3) prevent the Senate from voting up or down on the legislation itself.

And now Senate Dems are hoping to negotiate with her again? Maybe they know something I don’t, but I feel like I’ve seen this production before, and it always ends with Lucy pulling the ball away and Charlie Brown falling on his ass.

In the larger context, though, the fact that Snowe and Baucus (among others) have even talked at all suggests senators are keeping a wide variety of options open. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, necessarily, but it’s preferable to letting health care reform die altogether.