Susan Ferrechio
San Francisco Examiner
December 23, 2009

ben nelson
The Internet and news are saturated with accounts of the special deals secured by Nelson and others.

With the approval rating of Congress sinking in the polls and public opinion of their health care plan going down along with it, Democrats may have done themselves one favor too many this week when they riddled the bill with special deals for individual lawmakers.

As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., struggled to pull together his 60 Democratic-controlled votes needed to pass the bill, certain holdout lawmakers were able to carve out extra money, benefits or exemptions that senators from other states didn’t get.

Reid said the deal making is just part of how legislation gets done in the Senate.

“It’s not different from other pieces of legislation,” Reid said. “We work compromises. That’s what legislation is all about, the art of compromise.”

He added that for those senators who did not carve out something for themselves, “it doesn’t speak well of them.”

Steve Ellis, who spends his days parsing out pork barrel projects from congressional spending bills, said Reid’s response ignores public disgust over such back-room deals.

“Even if you say this is just the way it works, that doesn’t mean the public likes it,” said Ellis, who is vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group. “It stinks. And the public recognizes that.”

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