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Max Baucus Has a Posse

Sen. Max Baucus is not a popular man right now. And he's particularly unpopular among the Democrats on his committee. He locked them out of negotiations in order to secure Republican votes, created a bill they didn't like to make a better platform for bipartisan compromise, and returned with a no Republican votes, a lot of wasted time, and a bill that doesn't please anyone. It's going to be very hard for him to get the Democratic votes needed to lift the legislation out of the Finance Committee. But then, he's probably not going to be the one who does it. From the e-mail:

Readout of the President’s meetings today with Senator Rockefeller and with Senators Bennett and Wyden

"The President had constructive meetings today with Senator Rockefeller and with Senators Bennett and Wyden in the Oval Office. These meetings underscore the President's continued commitment to working with senators on both sides of the aisle to pass health insurance reform this year."

And the unruffling of feathers begins. But neither Wyden nor Rockefeller are fools. They're going to want something more concrete than face time in the Oval Office in return for their votes. The question is whether they're getting promised amendments in the FInance Committee or concessions when the bill moves to conference.

By Ezra Klein  |  September 17, 2009; 8:10 AM ET
 
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Comments

Jay is the our last best hope for the public option !!!! Go Jay !!!

I loved his comment about being to old to play games ... he would rather vote his conviction.

Let's hope he has enough friends to turn the Finance Committee members toward a real Public Option ... He would be a Hero.

I will personally arrange for Alicia Keys to sing to him :-)

Posted by: cautious | September 17, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Or Mariah Carey ... their both cute

Posted by: cautious | September 17, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Given how reliable promises of support in later, closed-door proceedings have been in the course of this bill, I don't think unspecified improvements in conference will do much to help Baucus' standing.

I realize that the Finance bill will be heavily improved in conference, but it has become so consequential, and its content is so bad, that it will attract a lot of coverage on passing. The press will inevitably cover it as "the Democrats' Health Reform" -- and the negative elements like the unaffordable individual mandate and penalty for hiring low-income workers will be used to discredit the whole effort. Democrats absolutely should not pass the bill as it currently stands out of committee, even if they think they can sand it down in conference.

Posted by: NS12345 | September 17, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

In other words, Scooby and the gang are going to rip off Baucus's mask and it's going to be ... MR. OBAMA!!!

Posted by: bmull | September 17, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

The problem for the more liberal senators is that no one actually believes that they will kill this bill for not being liberal enough no matter how much arm waving they do. The only way to actually get credibility is to actually kill it which once again no one believes that they would actually do. So in the end they will sign on to whatever lousy bill this ends up turning into and declare victory.

Posted by: spotatl | September 17, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

bmull said it a lot funnier that I would have, but that's the whole point. Baucus may not be a popular guy, but he's popular with the only guy that really matters-- Obama. The Dems will need him to sell the bill, and he doesn't want to sell a partisan bill. So Baucus is playing the loyal soldier, taking the bullets for Obama.

But let's be clear. This isn't about Baucus. Its about Obama.

Posted by: wisewon | September 17, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Ezra,

I have a little summary followed by a question.

Ok, so I am of the the people deeply worried about a double dip recession. Three reasons. First, Commercial Real Estate which although a lagging indicator could out the brakes on growth and could cause more financial panic. Second, state budget gaps because cutting spending and/or raising taxes will be as Paul Krugman said "like 50 Herbert Hoovers." Third, the two variables above combined with the fact that things could slow after the inventory rebound makes a double dip quire possible.

Thats my little analysis, but I do have a question. Does the Baucas or any other bill have a Medicaid expansion that alleviates state budget shortfalls?

Posted by: econowonk | September 17, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

But of course the White House is there promising them things in order to put their votes behind this ugly duckling. The broader point is isnt it funny how we govern this country? Everyone knows this whole cmte process is a sham, since the real compromises will happen in conference!

I'm not a master of the Senate here, but if clearly this is just a pretext to passing a good enough bill in the finance cmte to go to the floor for a vote, why is the Baucus bill even worth discussing at this point? Its like a first draft.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | September 17, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

You say "It's going to be very hard for him to get the Democratic votes needed to lift the legislation out of the Finance Committee". As I see it , the votes that are going to be hard for Baucus to get are votes for his re-election. This guy has taken too much money from the health care/insurance companies to be considered ethical and effective for the citizens of Montana or America. The fact that he took so long while still collecting monies from the entities that are totally against reform shows he was and is only out for his gains. He accomplished nothing to further reform and actually put us back months.

Posted by: lan_eli | September 17, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Last night I attended a discussion on health care with former Senators Bob Kerrey and Tom Daschle, with the former basically interviewing the latter.

As the Post and other outlets have reported, Daschle is still an extremely close adviser to Obama on health care. He was noticeably cold on the Baucus plan, repeatedly commending the other four bills that have been passed in House or Senate committees and pointedly mentioning that the "Finance Committee" bill was a problem. Either he's just out of synch with the WH on this one, or Obama also wants to see major changes to the Baucus measure and is just playing nice with it for right now, which might be what is happening.

If anyone is interested, I wrote about the Daschle talk and posted some video from it at my blog http://www.pastprogress.com/

Posted by: brooklyngj | September 17, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

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