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Tilting at Windmills

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September 9, 2009

BAUCUS MOVING FORWARD -- WITH OR WITHOUT GOP.... Weeks ago, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) publicly indicated his Gang of Six talks would not continue indefinitely. He would wrap things up in mid-September, which was intended to give the negotiations an added sense of urgency. Nothing happened -- Republicans wouldn't budge.

This afternoon, Baucus said the Senate Finance Committee will move forward with a health care reform bill -- with or without Republican votes -- with a committee markup scheduled for the week of Sept. 21.

Baucus made the announcement Wednesday after privately telling Finance Committee Democrats during a morning meeting that he will introduce a bill in the early or middle part of next week.

The move came ahead of a meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon with the bipartisan Group of Six Senate negotiators, who had been trying to reach an agreement for months. It's unclear how those talks will be affected by the announcement.

But by making clear that he will move forward, Baucus gave President Barack Obama a significant talking point for his speech Wednesday night before a joint session of Congress. The president will be able to point to progress in the five congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care.

"He is making clear in the meeting that it is time for action and time to move forward to get a bill done by the end of the year," according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

This is significant. Before the recess, Baucus indicated that the Finance Committee would move on a bill when a bipartisan deal was in place. Today's news means the Gang of Six's relevance no longer matters -- the Finance Committee is moving forward.

This announcement doesn't preclude a bipartisan deal -- the six centrists and conservatives will apparently keep chatting -- but it means their discussions will no longer delay the process. The train is leaving the station in two weeks; whether Republicans climb on is up to them.

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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Baucus is a jerk, he wants to remove the public option, he is on the take big time with the health industry, I saw his remarks on TV and he looked very nervous to me.

Posted by: JS on September 9, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute. Why is this good news? I'm reading that the Baucus plan is horseshit, a gift to the insurance industry requiring health insurance complete with fines but no public option. The best of all possible worlds for the insurance giants - everyone else not so much. Does it even address pre-existing? recission? max-out of pocket? Ya know, anything. Nobody should be on Baucus' train.

Posted by: ckelly on September 9, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Steve -
What's your take on what would happen in mark-up? I assume there are a lot of Democratic senators in SFC who will ask for considerable changes to what Baucus offered and will end up putting on the table for mark up. Do you agree?

Posted by: Amy on September 9, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute. Why is this good news? I'm reading that the Baucus plan is horseshit, a gift to the insurance industry requiring health insurance complete with fines but no public option.

You're right, it is crap, exactly as you describe it. Check out the reactions at Kos. It would be the one bill that, if signed into law, would cause progressives to join with teabaggers in protest.
But I doubt that any final bill will be anything like what Baucus is proposing. First it goes through markup in committee, made up of many Dems who aren't too happy about being shut out of the process to begin with, then the full Senate, then reconciled with whatever the House passes.
Really, I don't know what Baucus and his secret committee was ever thinking, that the entire congress would swallow whatever piece of crap that they created. They've pretty much alienated everyone with their behavior at this point.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 9, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

by making clear that he will move forward, Baucus gave President Barack Obama a significant talking point for his speech Wednesday night before a joint session of Congress. The president will be able to point to progress in the five congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care.

Why must the democrats use such unprecedented means to ram change down Americans' throats? I mean, this is really important so it should be debated a lot longer. Republicans had 6 years to make changes to healthcare, but they wisely waited so we could have a spirited debate about how to do it right the first time. You wouldn't want us to rush out into an Iraqi War style quagmire and have to just muddle through. Some times you just keep walking and other times you must stand still for long periods to reflect.

Besides, I like my insurance the way it is. I'm going to keep it forever. I'm so proud of the great job Angela Braly is doing over at Wellpoint, making sure more hardworking Americans like myself can afford the best quality healthcare in the world. I don't mind if she makes $10 million a year so long as she keeps doing this important work that real Americans are hungry for, also.

Posted by: Sarah Palin's ghostwriter on September 9, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

So in late july he pushes back the completion date from early august - before the break, to Sep 15.
Now, on Sep 8 he pushes the completion date from
sep 15 to sep 21.

Still just stalling.

Posted by: catclub on September 9, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

In my opinion, all the delaying and hemming and hawing was simply a way for the Blue Dogs to line their pockets with lobbyist dollars.

The same goes for Baucus and his Gang of Six.

Posted by: Gridlock on September 9, 2009 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

My next procedural question is this: if the House passes a public plan option and the Senate passes a bill without a public plan option, do Senators get to filibuster a conference report? Or are these merely up or down votes?

I think Ms. Pelosi has done an admirable job of protecting her members by not allowing her House to vote on a bill containing a public option until the President and the Senate indicate support for one. The day may come, however, when the greater good is served by having the House say, "It will be a public plan option." Such a move might put pressure and create momentum. Until then, Speaker Pelosi is guarding her majority wisely.

Posted by: Charles Gerlach on September 9, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin says: "Besides, I like my insurance the way it is. I'm going to keep it forever."

Good. you get to keep it. So arent you happy now? NO?

Posted by: glutz78 on September 9, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

If the GOP is opposed to Baucus's plan to enrich insurance companies, it is because they are jealous that they didn't think of it themselves.

If Baucus wasn't paid a hundred million by health insurers, he left money on the table. It's a terrible plan for taxpayers and policyholders.

Posted by: freelunch on September 9, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

"I feel like I've got a gun to my head telling me that I am forced by law to pay some CEO's obscene salary with no guarantee that I'm not going to get the shaft if I get sick.

What is it going to take for the Democrats to realize that constantly using their base as a doormat is not a good idea? It only takes a few defections or enough people staying home to make a difference. And there are people on the left who have proven they're willing to do it. The Democrats are playing with fire if they think they don't have to deliver anything at all to their liberal base --- and abandoning the public option, particularly in light of what we already know about the bailouts and the side deals, may be what breaks the bond.

It's really not too much to ask that they deliver at least one thing the left demands, it really isn't. And it's not going to take much more of this before their young base starts looking around for someone to deliver the hope and change they were promised."

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/playing-with-fire-by-digby-ambinder-sez.html

Posted by: morganstern on September 9, 2009 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

No true health reform can be accomplished without TORT reform. And why isn't that on the table? Most likely because the majority of this adminstration are laywers! We are basically screwed over until this administration puts TORT reform on the table. I will no0t hold my breath on this and to that end I will oppose this so-called health reform.

Posted by: J on September 9, 2009 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

From Ben Smith today at Politico:

"But the White House has also chosen specifically to focus on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and evidently to make her the face of the opposition, or to respond to her ability to project herself into the debate. She is the only Republican named in the talking points."

I just have to chuckle.

Sarah Palin is supposedly SO irrelevant, SO 'stupid,' and SUCH a hillbilly - that the White House (along with this blog) feels this apparent need to have to answer her every move (!)...if she was SO irrelevant, they would ignore her completely (!)

Once again, Palin gets the last laugh...she has the White House scurrying about - and she doesn't even hold a position in government (!)

Posted by: John C on September 9, 2009 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

looks like the "status quo " remains for another generation.

Posted by: P on September 9, 2009 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats should move ahead - with or without Baucus. While it's tough to be in the middle as he is, how much sense does it make to be floating trial balloons the day before the President makes his speech?

There have been lifetimes of serious analysis that have gone into plans for improving US healthcare and these guys are punting at the 11th hour. Get a summary of what's being proposed out so people can see the thing.

Posted by: Jack on September 9, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

after last year i gave up on politics...i just pray for the best...

Posted by: Constant Gina on September 9, 2009 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Without the GOP...

What bull$hit.

Montana's going to vote this idiot out.

Posted by: Glen on September 9, 2009 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

I do not agree with the fee.

Posted by: Lisa on September 9, 2009 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK
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