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Happy Max Baucus Bill Day!

Max Baucus will release the Chairman's Mark -- the official first draft of his bill -- later today. But things are not going according to plan. He's got a bill full of the compromises meant to attract Republican support, but no Republican support. Not even Olympia Snowe, at this point, has committed to backing the bill.

Meanwhile, the framework has conceded enough to the GOP that it's also losing Democratic support, including that of Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Finance Committee's Health Care Subcommittee. And Rockefeller says that four to six Democrats on the committee feel similarly. Baucus is thus caught between a rock and a hard place. The absence of any Republican support makes it hard for him to justify his compromises. And his compromises make it hard for the Democrats on the committee to support his bill.

By Ezra Klein  |  September 16, 2009; 9:08 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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How about the rest of the Democrats on the committee get together and come up with an alternative plan they can all support then offer it as an amendment to Baucus' bill and pass the bill so the rest of process can move on?

Posted by: redwards95 | September 16, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

This all seems perplexing, but if you assume that Baucus is coordinating with Obama it makes a lot more sense. I'd suggest there are a number of good data points over the past six months on this point.

I think Obama prefers a strategy that either 1) secures bipartisan support or 2) pushes a Dems-only plan that is seen by many as a reasonable, centrist plan. In either case, Baucus/Obama are negotiating with themselves and their perceived notions of political acceptability.

Posted by: wisewon | September 16, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I think there is no question at this point that the democrats are better off passing the "right" bill that they would feel comfortable convincing the american people is the right direction to go in. If the bill is going to be 100% dem then make sure you have a good solution in place because you are going to have to take ownership of all the warts. But don't worry about compromises that make the thing unweildy and ineffective- this is Obama's chance to get exactly the bill that he wants to have in place.

Posted by: spotatl | September 16, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I agree with wisewon but a centrist plan is one that addresses cost control. This one doesn't.

Posted by: bmull | September 16, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be better for the Republicans to support this bill and try to get it to the floor before pulling the rug out? Appeal to Mr. Baucus great skill as a negotiator. If the Republicans came out in support in committee they might be able to defeat amendments to the bill with the help of "concerned" Democrats and get a predatory bill to the floor which Democrats could not support. That's how you smash health care reform.

Posted by: windshouter | September 16, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

If I'd wanted the Republican version of health care I would have voted for Republicans. I didn't, and I don't.

Posted by: simpleton1 | September 16, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

What does that mean, though? Can the other democrats change the bill?

Posted by: JERiv | September 16, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

BURN THAT BILL! I agree 100% with JERiv. Max Baucus is a piece of crap. Who put him in charge. The Senate isn't undemocratic enough? Our Senators should cede control to a bunch of small state Senators, 50% of whom are Republicans? NO WAY!

Posted by: bcbulger | September 16, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I agree with those who said that Baucus has nothing to win and everything to lose from putting out a piece of crap bill with so many concessions. If reform fails it won't be good enough for him to point to his concessions.

Posted by: slantedview | September 16, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I emailed Senator Baucus, my senator, today:

Dear Sen. Baucus:

Did you have fun chasing Senators Grassley, Snowe and Enzi around and around the mulberry bush?


Posted by: glewiss | September 16, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

No republican support?!?!

To quote Atrios -- hoocoodanode!

Posted by: mbrown43 | September 16, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse


"a centrist plan is one that addresses cost control"

What does that even mean? Are you arguing that the centrists have been introducing cost control measures? Or that, if a proposed plan were to control costs, then it would be, by definition, "centrist"?

The public option is the most effective cost control measure proposed so far. It's just ideologically unpalatable.

If we just passed a single payer NHS, would that be "centrist"? Or are we just dealing in platitudes and slogans?

Posted by: antontuffnell | September 16, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

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