Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Wyden and the Baucus Debacle

When the Finance Committee eventually gets around to voting on the bill they cobbled together last week, it's still not entirely certain that it will pass...
To put it more directly, the exchange as set up in the Baucus bill will be open to just 25 million people, most of whom have been uninsured, un-doctored, untreated for a long time. It's enough to make one think they're setting not just the public option but the exchange to fail.

The hostility among the committee's senior members, particularly those on Baucus's Gang of Six, to the Wyden Free Choice amendment just reinforces that impression. Jon Walker at FDL has the whole sordid story of how Baucus blindsided Wyden on that late night of markup, when Baucus ruled his amendment out of order because it hadn't been scored by the CBO. Except that the amendment that Wyden offered had been scored, more than a week before the markup.
To put it more directly, the exchange as set up in the Baucus bill will be open to just 25 million people, most of whom have been uninsured, un-doctored, untreated for a long time. It's enough to make one think they're setting not just the public option but the exchange to fail.

The hostility among the committee's senior members, particularly those on Baucus's Gang of Six, to the Wyden Free Choice amendment just reinforces that impression. Jon Walker at FDL has the whole sordid story of how Baucus blindsided Wyden on that late night of markup, when Baucus ruled his amendment out of order because it hadn't been scored by the CBO. Except that the amendment that Wyden offered had been scored, more than a week before the markup.
There are two issues at play here--Baucus's actions as committee chair which have shown him essentially incompetent to achieve a decent bill of this scope and dishonest in dealing with his colleagues. But the more important issue for the moment goes back to Rockefeller's problem with the bill--the half trillion dollar gift it is to the insurance industry, made an even bigger gift by the crippled exchange it creates.

There's going to be tremendous pressure on Wyden and Rockefeller, from Baucus, from the White House, from Reid, to vote for this crappy bill to get it out of committee so the process can move on (pressure that should have been on Baucus months and months ago, since it's his fault we're now well into October with no bill). As long as there's a Snowe-inspired delay why the CBO does it's work on the crappy bill, Wyden and Rockefeller should hold out on saying how they'll vote. They should be using this time to extract as many concessions as possible from Reid and the White House before agreeing to anything.
Read it all at Daily Kos

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