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Is Mitch McConnell Afraid of the Senate Finance Committee's Bill?


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell does not sound eager to run against the Finance Committee's near-universal, deficit-reducing bill. Here's the statement his office released in response to the Congressional Budget Office's score:

This partisan Finance Committee proposal will never see the Senate floor since the real bill will be written by Democrat leaders in a closed-to-the-public conference room somewhere in the Capitol. The real bill will be another 1,000-page, trillion-dollar experiment that slashes a half-trillion dollars from seniors’ Medicare, raises taxes on American families by $400 billion, increases health care premiums, and vastly expands the role of the federal government in the personal health care decisions of every American.

Refuses to mention the bill, the score, the deficit, or CBO. It doesn't seem like they have a very strong sense of how you argue against this legislation, given that it actually fulfills both the overarching liberal priority (cover most of the uninsured) and the overarching conservative priorities (preserve private insurance, reduce the deficit). The fact that Bill Frist and Bob Dole have come out in support of it is probably only making McConnell's job harder.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 8, 2009; 10:36 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Doesn't it leave 25 million uninsured?
Because it looks to me like it utterly fails all three overarching goals I would have expected from it-- universal coverage, medical bankruptcy protection and cost control.

Posted by: adamiani | October 8, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

alright I'll agree that McConnell's an idiot (as i've said before) and the SFC verision is the least partisan bill out there but is he wrong? If Republican's could be GUARANTEED that the SFC version was the one that passed I think you'd see some sign off on it. The fact is they do know that it'll be LIBERALIZED by Pelosi and Reid. That's what they fear and what won't get you to 60 votes.

Posted by: visionbrkr | October 8, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse


I'd dare you to find me the bill out there that protects anyone from medical bankruptcy protection. continued medical bankruptcy exists in every bill. Even HR 676.

Posted by: visionbrkr | October 8, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I think the Republicans are in a bit of a box here, politically, don't you think? The SFC bill is pretty conservative, has many of the elements in it they wanted, protects the insurance industry, relies on the free market, does not have a public option, reduces the deficit and takes the uninsured rate from 17% to 6%. Yes, it may change some when merged with the HELP bill, but the question is how much really? The plan may eventually look much more like the SFC bill than the HELP bill as the SFC bill is cheaper and covers more uninsured.

It would appear that broad Republican opposition to this may be seen as purely ideological. The far right will be OK with that, but how will that play with independents? Seems like the Republicans may be digging a political hole with that group.

Posted by: scott1959 | October 8, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Maybe he should just admit he's gay and let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by: flounder2 | October 8, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

well i guess this just proves that the republicans are incompetent. running against the finance cmte bill should be pretty easy.

as rockefeller and wyden pointed out so simply at the markup. $500T given directly by govt to insurers while insurers only have to promise to take out reinsurance. 250M people given no choice. Forced mandates putting the power of the govt behind private decisions.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | October 8, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse


you may want to change that T to a B.


i agree. Republicans are in a box and will be considered nothing but the obstructions they are if they don't get behind the SFC bill. But then again I don't think anyone expects the finance bill to become law now do they?? THe question is how far left it ends up.

Posted by: visionbrkr | October 8, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

The SFC bill can't move too far left, it'll still have to deal with the filibuster once the final version is out. Most likely, I think the liberalization in conference will be around the periphery and they'll leave the structure in place. Completely agree that the SFC scoring is only part of the final product and everyone should wait on the final result, but also that McConnell's response shows he's got nothing to say.

Posted by: etdean1 | October 8, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

thank you vision broker i had half a trillion on my mind.

regardless of my screw up i think it's a little weird that the republicans are not attacking the finance cmte plan. it should be really easy for them to go on the offensive, i mean it's got lots and lots of populist potential for anger, massive unending subsidies (incl. for families of 4 making almost $100k), corporate bailout, govt control of private decisions and increased bureaucracy (the exchange).

i guess the real problem is that they haven't put forward any coherent alternatives (which should also be easy - increased competition through a national exchange and catastrophic coverage plans) so they can't criticize anything on the specifics. what im really surprised about is that the ron paul wing hasn't been more vocal.

the finance cmte plan would create a lot of disaffected independents and democrats. i think it'll be interesting to see whether or not they take advantage of this opportunity.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | October 8, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I agree the merged SFC/HELP bill won't move too far left due to the filibuster situation and the desire to not lose Snowe. I think about the only substantive thing you will see is maybe a modest increase in subsidies.

Posted by: scott1959 | October 8, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I've detected a really important crisis on our hands lately.

The cost of feeding, paying, and giving health insurance to politicians on the Hill has gone way too high. I have a solution. Why don't we abolish their health plans entirely and make all the Senators and Representatives go out and buy their own health insurance on the open market with no subsidy?

Of course, the healthcare industry would provide each and every one of them with a Cadillac plan, just as Countrywide provided Senator Dodd and others with VIP mortgages while they were supposedly regulating banking.

If you want to know the real problem we have on our hands, it's the crisis-mongers and their various agendas and the special interests who go out there and neutralize them with money in exchange for deals, which is precisely why the crisis mongers proffer their crises in the first place. The deals make them feel important and the money helps them send you 5 billion emails telling you to vote for them so they can get up there, monger yet another crisis, get the special interests to neutralize them with an infusion of cash...

Well, you get the picture.

Posted by: eyemakeupneeded1 | October 8, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

"The trade group and two other hospital associations struck a deal with the White House and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to accept $155 billion less in Medicare payments over the next decade if 94 percent of all residents -- legal and illegal -- are insured."

from this very paper. you hit the nail on the head. the grand bargain seems to be that the govt forces mandates (paid for via half a trillion in subsidies) and AHIP agrees to $155b less in medicare (which of course will easily be made up by the mandates). didnt anyone stop to think that $500b is actually more than $155b or just didnt they care? there seems to be a prevailing opinion in our political classes (on both sides of the aisle) that govt money isnt real money adn that the citizenry exists solely to be consumers.

where's a third party when we need one?

Posted by: PindarPushkin | October 9, 2009 2:54 AM | Report abuse

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