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Friday, September 18, 2009

RIP the Baucus Plan

Fred Barnes, on Special Report, had my favorite description of the recently released Max Baucus health care proposal. He said this is the worst rollout since the Edsel. Normally, when something is universally condemned by both Republicans and Democrats, I tend to like it. If all the politicians think something is bad, it's usually good.

Unfortunately, the Baucus plan is universally being condemned because politicians got this one right. The Baucus plan suffers from the problem that when you try and please everyone you please no one. Baucus didn't want a public option to please Republicans. He tried to keep the prices down, and he also mandated universal coverage. The co op option didn't impress any Republicans. It immediately turned off Democrats like Jay Rockefeller and Anthony Weiner.

This is currently the least expensive plan, however in part, that's because many costs are put off on the states. As such, Governors are universally condemning the plan. It also then places more of the cost burden on the individual. Many Democrats are concerned that middle class families will be hit with significant medical bills. In the meantime, libertarians are concerned that mandated coverage is unconstitutional and certainly against their principles.

Baucus gave everyone something to like in the plan: tort reform, mandated coverage, a relatively small price tag, etc. Unfortunately, he gave everyone a lot more to dislike: a government take over, no government option, cost burden on the middle class, etc.

As such, in unison, both Democrats and Republicans are criticizing the plan. Baucus came out and introduced the plan on his own. There is still time for changes and amendments but this plan appears dead on arrival. This complicates things for President Obama significantly. So far, the only Senate plan is the Kennedy plan. That cost in excess of $1 trillion and it was only going to cover about one third of the uninsured. That plan appears to be a non starter. So, there's no plan yet out of the Senate.

Meanwhile, prior to the August break, Nancy Pelosi planned on setting a vote on HR 3200 for immediately upon returning. Then, we heard the week of September 14th. So far, no vote has been scheduled. Bart Stupack, Democrat from Michigan, is threatening to block passage of HR 3200 unless language is specifically added that specifically forbids federal funding for abortions. So, HR 3200 is on life support.

So, once again, I remind everyone. The president has no plan. There's no plan that's anywhere near passing either chamber. We're heading into our eighth month of our debate and nothing has been settled. The president is going to do a full court press on the Sunday shows to sell his health care plan. He'll be in the dubious position to sell a concept with no specifics. That's been his problem all along. It's why the polls are turning against him, and nothing will change after Sunday. Everyone wants what President Obama claims to want: lower costs, unverisal coverage, and fairness. Most people don't believe he can do it. Since he still has no plan, he's not going to suddenly convince the public of what he's failed to do so far.


Anonymous said...

...and thank God for that.

Personally I've grown very tired of hearing about how it's a shame we can't cover citizens in the US the same way that the rest of the civilized world can. Nevermind the fact, they're basically subsidized by our medical innovations and pharms.; perhaps the best plan is going to be an enactment of free measures like opening intrastate borders etc.?

Anonymous said...

I've always thought the reason Obama wouldn't commit to endorsing HR3200 or the Kennedy bill is because he had always intended to back Baucus' bill.

That's why the White House had been hesitating to respond when Max Baucus kept publicly accusing Obama of showing him insufficient deference. Its why the White House waited until now to call Charles Grassley out for bragging how he's negotiating in bad faith. Its why Nancy Pelsoi laughed off the idea Progressive Caucus members would vote down a plan with no public option, and why Rahm Emanuel called them "the left of the left" and "f__king stupid."

Obama is first and foremost, an identity politics based politician. Its why he ran on such a ridiculously nebulous campaign slogan like "hope and change". As such, he's looking out for himself first and foremost. He probably figured he could go the DLC route, pick up Snowe, Collins, and Voinovich, pass a bill, and declare victory.

That won't cut it, not in the post-TARP era. Voters aren't listening to Rahm Emanuel and Larry Summers anymore, so if Obama can't understand that, then the voters aren't going to listen to him anymore, either.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter Mike.

Obama can use reconciliation to pass the bill he wants - paint the Republicans and insurance companies as evil and obstructionist.

Very easy.

mike volpe said...

He doesn't have the votes for that. He can't pass it with reconciliation, there's too many dems that would never go for that.