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Kill the bailout: The vote draws near; Lindsay Graham quivers; watch Sanders’ tax-the-rich surcharge

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 1, 2008 06:36 PM

Scroll for updates…liveblogging the final hours…

Conservative stalwart GOP Sen. Richard Shelby is speaking on the Senate floor against the Bush/Pelosi/Reid/Frank/Dodd/Paulson Crap Sandwich. Thank you, Sen. Shelby.

Also against: Fellow staunch conservative Sen. Jeff Sessions. Thank you, Sen. Sessions.

On the other side of the aisle, Dem. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida has just announced his opposition on the floor.

We are just a few hours away from the vote. No hearings. Rush, rush, rush.

Long live the deliberative process.

Tons of you have e-mailed your stories of not being able to get through to Congress. I share your frustration, but keep trying: 202-224-3121.

The beast keeps growing and growing and growing:

The Senate hopes to revive Treasury’s $700 billion financial rescue plan Wednesday night by packaging it together with more than $100 billion in popular tax breaks as well as aid to rural schools important to House Republicans.

To calm voters fearful of bank failures, the $100,000 cap on federal insurance for deposits would also be raised to $250,000—a concession backed by both parties but also aimed at community banks who can be helpful in building small town support for the larger bill.

With each permutation, the bill has steadily grown in size. Treasury’s initial plan was about three pages long. The House version, which failed, stretched to 110. The Senate substitute now runs over 450 pages. And tucked away in the tax provisions is a landmark health care provision demanding that insurance companies provide coverage for mental health treatment—such as hospitalization—on parity with physical illnesses.

Really a bill onto itself, the mental health parity measure has been a bipartisan priority for top lawmakers in both chambers but has stalled because of disagreements again over how to pay for its estimated $3.8 billion five-year cost. In the current climate, that seems to be no longer a stumbling block, and if the Treasury plan becomes law, it will also.

Tell your Senator: Don’t swallow Crap Sandwich 2.0.

Ick: Lindsay Graham just took the floor.

Update 6:45pm Eastern. Oh, for crying out loud. Graham just ended his Main Street paean by declaring he’ll “vote his conscience” with a quiver in his voice. “I know this is not a perfect bill and I know this is a bad choice, but I also know from my common sense and my life experiences that I need to act and I need to act now and I will.”

Flashback: Remember his hissy fit on the Senate floor during the shamnesty battle?

Man up already.

***

Here’s conservative stalwart Sen. Jim DeMint’s floor statement opposing the bailout behemoth. Thank you, Sen. DeMint.

Update 7:24pm Eastern. Senate staffers say Bernie Sanders’ tax-the-rich surchage will go down on a voice vote. It’s the only amendment that was allowed. Stay tuned.

Senate staffer notes: “Curious isn’t it that on the bailout… er, sorry, we’re not allowed to call it that anymore… the ‘profit-generating, rescue for Main Street, civilization salvation’ bill that the only amendment allowed is by the only avowed socialist in Congress.”

Indeed.

Update 7:28pm Eastern. Dianne Feinstein recounts receiving 85,000 calls against the bailout…and then goes on to explain how they are all stupid and ill-informed.

7:34pm Eastern. Ok, a break from bailout mania for debate on the Amtrak bill.

8:52pm Eastern. Harry Reid is rambling on about a Senate staffer who’s retiring. It’s David Tinsley, legislative clerk. He gets a nice round of applause.

8:57pm Eastern. Mitch McConnell is warbling about bipartisanship.

I repeat: McConnell is toast.

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