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Health Care, Sex Offenders and Viagra

It’s going to be an interesting couple of days as we watch how a bill becomes law in the United States Senate. Despite all the health care signing hoopla over the past 24 hours, the fact remains that the Senate must pass the exact language the House approved earlier this week. If a single amendment is added it has to go back to the House again for another vote.

So Republican Senators trying to scuttle the measure any way possible are proposing amendment after amendment to put their Democratic colleagues in excruciatingly uncomfortable positions. The most interesting such amendment has been offered by Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn. According to Congressional Quarterly, his amendment would “prohibit insurance coverage for erectile dysfunction drugs for convicted child molestors, rapists and other sex offenders.”

I don’t know if it actually happens this way, but in my mind, I picture a late night pizza-fueled session with clever legislative aides thinking of ways to embarrass the opposition party. Under such a scenario, can you imagine the laughter in the room when the idea gets blurted out- “Hey…let’s make them vote in favor of Viagra for pedophiles!!!!” Many high-fives, giggles and snorting laughter all around. “Gives a new meaning to the phrase, ‘soft on crime!'” More hilarity and fist-bumps. “Hey, pass me a pepperoni slice!”

There are less eyebrow-raising amendments also being offered. John McCain is honing in on all the sweetheart deals that made it into the legislation in order to coax a few more wavering Democratic votes. An amendment is being introduced to ferret out waste, fraud and abuse in federal health programs; another one from Team Coburn.

The Dems will likely, dutifully turn down every one of these, along the way creating great fodder for the campaign commercials you’ll be seeing this fall ahead of the mid-term elections. Cut to the grainy, dark footage of Senator X with sinister music in the background. “Did you know Senator X voted against a ban to give Viagra to sex offenders?” “Did you know Senator Y voted against cutting fraud, waste and abuse in health care programs?”

I will tell you right now I would expect the same to happen if the shoe were on the other foot and it was Dems in a position to scuttle GOP legislation. It’s the nature of our system and of politics. If you find it a little unseemly at times, I would suggest looking the other way because its not going to stop anytime soon. And nobody is going to hang a sign on top of the Capitol building saying- “Don’t Look- Sausage-making in Progress.”

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