Hurry Up and Wait on Health Care

Max Baucus contradicts his own calls for patience and bipartisanship

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Today is a big day for Max Baucus. Baucus is a moderate Democratic Senator from Montana, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee that today released a health care reform bill, and this morning he became a one-time Wall Street Journal guest columnist. Baucus, who spent months delaying health care reform to secure bipartisan support, wrote in the Journal that we should act quickly, though he has zero Republican support. "The time has come for action. And we will act," Baucus wrote. Liberal proponents of health care reform can't seem to decide what they're most furious at Baucus about: his lengthy delay, his failure to secure GOP votes, or the fact that his proposed bill appears decidedly non-liberal.

In his words:

Health care is a complicated and deeply personal issue; it takes time and effort to get reform right. Legislating every piece of this puzzle would be impossible and counterproductive. What we can do is seize this opportunity to put America back on a fiscally sustainable path. The Senate Finance Committee proposal builds on what already works and fixes what threatens to break the bank for future generations.

[...] The time has come for action. And we will act. In the next several weeks, the Senate Finance Committee will do its part to control costs, protect consumers from unfair insurance industry practices, and put America back on a path toward fiscal sustainability.

The response:

  • Nate Silver, in a post titled "Baucus Compromise Bill Draws Enthusiastic Support of Senator Max Baucus": "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."
  • Steve Benen: "This has to be pretty embarrassing. He invested months and countless hours in this, holding up health care reform with painful delays. Indeed, don't forget that the Finance Committee was supposed to be the first committee to pass reform. Baucus, it appears, has very little to show for his efforts."
  • Charles M. Blow: After kow towing to GOP, amending/watering down [health care reform] proposals, Baucus bill gets no GOP support. What's the point?

  • Jamison Foser: "Ok, so the Baucus bill sucks. But don't hate--at least he got a dozen conservative Dems & GOPers on board! Wait... what?!?"
  • James Kwak: "What were you doing for the last two months?" ... "Now Baucus has nothing to show for his supposed third way of bipartisan negotiations."
  • John Arovosis: "Why isn't Baucus' plan now moot, since it was only intended to woo Republicans? If Democrats are going to go it alone, then why not go with a Democratic plan? And here's a crazy idea, why not go with the plan the President promised when he was running for President?"
  • Jon Henke: "Baucus Health Care Strategy: Bipartisan unity through legislation that everybody hates!"
  • "Pourmecoffee": "Under Baucus plan, 6 doctors must agree on your treatment and FYI 3 never will."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.