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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Baucus Bill Gets Even Uglier

The Baucus health care bill had an awful rollout. After all, Senator Max Baucus showed up to roll it out all by himself. Within hours, Senator Jay Rockefeller was criticizing it, and the Republicans came out against it in unison.

The ugliness may be just beginning. Now, the bill finds itself in front of the Senate Finance Committee. Already there are just over 500 amendments that will still need to be voted on. The bill has already gone through some adjustments. The penalty for a lack of insurance has dropped from a maximum of $3800 to $1900. There's also greater subsidies to help the poor and middle class pay for health insurance.

Yet, the bill continues to get attacked from all sides. Senator Cantwell of Washington is unhappy because without a public option she doesn't think there will be proper competition in health insurance. Cantwell believes that we are going to subsidize high health insurance costs rather than bending the cost curve with this bill. Meanwhile, Senator Kyl sees this as a government takeover that infringes on personal liberties.

Meanwhile, some Senators, like Olympia Snowe, are waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to score the bill. The problem is that the bill constantly changes and so the CBO still can't score it.

The whole process reveals the flaw I spoke about earlier with this bill. Baucus tried to please everyone with this bill. He compromised with the Republicans to take out the public option. He compromised again and kept the price tag under $900 billion. At the same time, Baucus replaced the public option with a co op and made having insurance a mandate to appease the liberals.

As such, he pleased no one. Is anyone surprised that there are more than 500 amendments to be looked at? Everyone is trying to change the bill into their image. Meanwhile, the bill continues to get slammed by Senators from all parties. By the time all amendments are looked at no one can know what it will look like. So, you'll have a bill with no vision.

So, now we all must consider what will happen if this bill gets defeated. Right now the bill is attacked from all sides and no one is happy. That's not a good sign for the bill. This is what President Obama is banking on in the Senate. If it gets defeated, the president is back to square one. The House has no plans to bring HR 3200 for a full vote any time in the future. We can only assume the House either 1)doesn't have the votes or 2) is waiting on the Senate. What if after this wait no bill passes? That's a real possibility. Neither conservatives, moderates or liberals are happy with this bill. That's not a good sign even with overwhelming majorities in the Senate. If it fails, the President's health care reform vision is back to square one.

1 comment:

lady di said...

This Baucus Bill is a sham. It only increases the taxes on the individuals that Obama said would see no tax increases if he were elected. We need to shelve any government plan to overhaul our medical system and to move on to give tax credits and create some jobs that were also promised by this President!