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It’s no secret that Republican Olympia Snowe holds a lot of power in the Senate.  Her power comes from her willingness to reach across the aisle and work with the Democrats who are in the majority.

Snowe is reasonable.  She works with others, she’s willing to listen and then offer her own input and ideas on issues.  She does not name call nor does she practice obstructionism.  These are differences for the Maine Senator which set her apart from most of her fellow Republicans who are becoming, it seems more so every day, increasingly fanatic and unreasonable.

No more has Snowe’s power through reasonableness been felt recently than on the Senate Finance Committee headed by Montana Democrat Senator Max Baucus.

Snowe, working with New York Senator Charles Schumer, successfully amended the Committee’s health care reform bill which has been sharply criticized by both sides for its harsh penalties, including jail time for those without insurance, to force every American to purchase private insurance without applying any cost restrictions to the insurers.

Snowe’s efforts on the panel, with this new amendment, will now soften the impact of the personal mandate requiring people to purchase private insurance.

The Snowe / Schumer Amendment, which passed the Committee 22 to 1, would reduce the penalty for a family not having insurance down to $200 starting in 2014 and go up to $800 in 2017.  It would also exempt millions who would suffer financial hardship by purchasing insurance.

This amendment also overturns criminal penalties, including jail time, for not purchasing insurance.

“The obligation should be first and foremost on the United States government to ensure that these plans will be affordable in the marketplace.  It surprises me that we would have these high-level penalties on the average American when we have have no certainty about whether or not these plans will be affordable.  I just don’t understand why there’s this impetus to punish people,” Snowe said according to the NY Times.

Read this:  Panel Finishes Work on Health Bill Amendments – NYTimes.com.