Saturday, November 26, 2005

Times Union "Mr. Sweeney Dissents" - where have they been?

The Times Union editorial on Sweeney budget Vote:

"The vote was a close one, 217-215, with 14 Republicans breaking ranks with their leadership and siding with Democrats present who opposed the measure unanimously. Rep. John Sweeney was among the 14 Republicans willing to oppose a flawed plan. Mr. Sweeney, unlike the generally moderate Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-New Hartford who voted for the bill, wouldn't go along with cuts in Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled, that some estimate will cost New York more than $1 billion over five years. He was troubled by changes in Medicaid rules that would charge co-payments to people who receive non-emergency care in hospital emergency rooms. The objective might make sense, at least in theory. But in Mr. Sweeney's district, which includes part of both the Adirondack and Catskill regions, a shortage of doctors often leaves emergency rooms as the only practical option for even routine medical care. The effect of cutting the deficit this way would have been harmful to too many of Mr. Sweeney's constituents. Other House members, Democrats especially, were even more pointed in their objections."
Let's not get to the point where we start praising old Sweeney for his sudden independent-minded interest in his constituents. It's far more likely that he's afraid of the competition he's rightly earned by being such a lousy representative of his district. He's voted to allow Tom Delay stay Majority Leader, even if he's indicted. This is not a free agent, at all. Look, this guy voted to end the Paris Hilton Tax, has watched at least two hospitals close down in his district (in Cambridge & Sidney), but has found time to hob-nob with celebrities lobbying on horse slaughter & with baseball players on the (yawn) issue of steroids in baseball. The guy has never shown any interest in his constituents, and is only now running scared.

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