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As Obama prepares for his much-anticipated health care address to Congress tomorrow, the reform bill released by Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus threatens to dramatically change the health care debate. Baucus's bill is lengthy, complicated, and has long been anticipated to oppose the reform hopes of Obama and other Democrats. After months of villifying Baucus, most liberal pundits expected the worst from him. But Ezra Klein, the Washington Post's reform-advocating liberal blogger, wins the day for reading BaucusCare objectively, for finding reasons for liberals to be happy with it, and for calmly explaining how to correct its shortcomings.

Insofar as the effort is aimed at filling in the cracks of the current system — making it more affordable, more transparent and less cruel — it's not a bad bill.

[...] To put it more starkly, it really will be the most important progressive policy passed since Lyndon Johnson. The subsidies should probably sit at 400 percent of poverty, and the employer mandate should be reworked, but such failures are relatively easy to fix, and may well be patched over by the time the legislation arrives on the Senate floor. The fact that a bill of this size and scope can still be considered disappointing is evidence that the doors of the possible have been thrown wide open.

Klein praised aspects of Baucus's reform plan. "The legislation really would protect millions of Americans from medical bankruptcy," he wrote. "It really would insure tens of millions of people." He criticized what he saw as its greatest shortcoming. "The co-op plan is an interesting policy proposal, but unlike a public insurance option, it's difficult to imagine it growing into anything significantly stronger than what's outlined in the paper." In short, he avoided pointing fingers or playing partisan and provided thoughtful, incisive on the strengths and weaknesses of this long-speculated-upon health care bill.

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