Sen. Baucus' healthcare plan

 

The political comedian Bill Maher this week told President Obama to act on behalf of the "70 percent of Americans who are not crazy" and go ahead with his agenda, instead of trying to please enough Republicans to make a bill bipartisan.

The Democratic senator from Montana, Max Baucus, might heed this advice as well. For more than a year, according to the New York Times, the chair of the senate finance committee has been crafting a compromise health care bill, working the last three months with a bipartisan group known as the gang of six. His unveiling of the 223-page bill today found him alone at the podium, without a single supporter. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine -- the Republican half of the gang -- said the bill doesn't meet their demands, while the Democratic senators seemed underwhelmed: Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico issued a statement saying the bill isn't perfect (he wants a public option), and Kent Conrad of North Dakota called it a "good start."

Over at dailykos.com, which is following the political circus surrounding the health care issue blow by blow, Kos raged:

Baucus allowed the GOP to delay health care reform in a bullshit effort to find "common ground". Baucus was played, yet he ended up conceding much in exchange for zero.

Pollster Nate Silver had this to say:

...let's be clear -- some of this is Baucus's chickens coming home to roost. When you make a unilateral decision to negotiate with only five other people from a 23-person committee and 100-person Senate, and two of those five people have clear electoral disincentives against supporting any plan that you might come up with, the negotiations are liable to end in failure far more often than not. The flurry of on-the-record statements against Baucus's reform plans -- not "leaks", not trial balloons -- points toward a defective process.

Ultimately, not even Baucus stood up for his plan. Today at the senator's own website, mum was the word. Not a single press release noted the release of the proposed legislation, so long in coming.