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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:37 AM
Original message
Why Liberals Hate Max Baucus

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-09-... /


Why Liberals Hate Max Baucus

by Michelle Goldberg

The Senate Finance chair has health-care reform in his hands, and hes bargaining it away. Michelle Goldberg on how his addiction to industry cash and GOP sympathies have doomed the bill.

snip//

For weeks now, Baucus has been working on a compromise health-care bill with his so-called Gang of Sixa group of senators, half Democrat and half Republican, who range across the ideological spectrum from slightly to very conservative. This has resulted in numerous Democratic concessionsparticularly on the public option and on the amount of subsidies to help people buy insurancewith absolutely no Republican reciprocation. No doubt, the bill that eventually comes out of Baucuss committee will be better than nothing at all. But his role as health-reform kingmaker has done nothing but slow the process down and ensure that when a law finally passes, it will be weaker and less effective than it could have been.

Somehow, the most important progressive legislation in a generation has ended up in the hands of a conservative, unimaginative man whose coffers are stuffed with health care industry dollars, and who represents a state with less than half the population of Brooklyn. Indeed, Baucus exemplifies much of whats wrong with the Senateboth its fealty to corporate donors and the inordinate amount of power it accords to people from small, conservative-leaning states.


The combined populations of Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, North and South Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona and Alaska are about equal to those of New York and Massachusetts. The former states have 22 senators; the latter, at the moment, have three. That creates a tremendously high bar for progressive legislation, even if that legislation is supported by a majority of Americans. Worse, campaign funding compounds the rightward tendencies of small-state senators. As Nate Silver pointed out last month, senators from small states, having a smaller fundraising base among their constituents, are more reliant on donations from corporate political action committees. Senators from the ten smallest states have received, on average, 28.4 percent of their campaign funds from corporate PACs, versus 13.7 for those in the ten largest, wrote Silver, who concluded that small state senators have even more incentive than their colleagues to placate special interests.

Baucus is a case in point. Only twelve senators, most of them Republicans, receive a greater share of their fundraising from PACs. Among his biggest donors are the health insurance and pharmaceutical industriesaccording to the Center for Responsive Politics, in the last five years hes raised more than half a million dollars from each.


But the problem with Baucus goes beyond his thralldom to special interests. It seems, after all, that he really does want to get something done. Hes 67 years old and was recently overwhelmingly reelected to another six-year term; health-care reform is his chance to leave his mark, to do something historic. His vision of what that looks like, though, is hostage to an obsolete Senate mythology of bipartisanship. For Baucus, success means compromise, but Republicans arent interested in meeting Democrats halfway, or anywhere at all. His Gang of Six was doomed from the start: Olympia Snowe may ultimately vote for reform, but the other two Republicans, Charles Grassley and Michael Enzi, just hung around long enough to get the Democrats to negotiate away as much as possible. It would be nice to think that Baucus knew that it was going to end this wayhow could he not?but all his behavior suggests otherwise.

In some ways, Democrats are lucky to have a problem like Baucus. The reason Republicans dont have to deal with preening moderates is because, save the two senators from Maine, they dont have any. Ideological purity is a lot easier for minority parties. Still, theres a difference between embracing good-faith debate and being weak and appeasing. Hopefully, the Democratic Partys leadership has begun to learn the difference. After all, Baucus is now angling to take the lead on cap and trade, an issue likely to provoke even fiercer conservative opposition than health care. If, once again, bipartisanship becomes an end in itself, the Democrats will have lost the fight before it begins.
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jonnyblitz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:40 AM
Response to Original message
1. people like Baucus prove Nader's point . nt
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:21 AM
Response to Reply #1
9. Aggg, You said the N-word. nt
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:41 AM
Response to Original message
2. Bad title,
and I know you did not choose it.

While the article is nicely writ, it is not only liberals who feel nausea, dysentery and general malaise when the topic of Baucus comes up. Moderates, unaffiliated, and republicans have the same reaction.

It is not because Baucus is a whore to the industry. Plenty of Senatwhores fit that bill. It is that he is so fucking obvious about it, and oblivious to today's insurance reality.

domestic violence - a pre-existing condition?
C-sections - anesthesia is not covered because it is not medically necessary?

Give me a fucking break.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:48 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. I agree, I didn't like the word 'hate' in there either. As for
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 06:53 AM by babylonsister
domestic violence being a pre-existing condition, I don't think that's Baucus' call but the insurance industry. Did he go along with that, too.

If so, I may have to rethink that 'hate' word.
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elocs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:46 AM
Response to Original message
3. Gang of six: why isn't it the Gang of Seven with 4 Democrats?
That is exactly how Republicans would have it. What is the point of having control of the Senate if there is a willingness to equally share power with Republicans?
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:48 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. iirc, it used to be the gang of 7. rethug Hatch bowed out. Yes,
doesn't make any sense at all.
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KharmaTrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:56 AM
Response to Original message
6. The Baucus Bill Is DOA...
President Obama played the game according to the Constitution. He proposed the legislation and it was up to the various House and Senate committees to come up with a bill. Yes this is strange as we just came out of 8 years of a one-party ramrod that had a disdain for the legislative and people strategically positioned to do the ramming. President Obama went back to how the framers envisioned such a large bill to be done.

There's plenty of fault to throw in President Obama trying to reach across and get bipartisan support as most of us knew there wasn't a rushpublican who would bargain in good faith. As we saw with GrASSley, he was too fearful of the tea baggers and wingnuts who could make his re-election next year a lot more work and expensive. And Baucus showed how well a paid-off politician can be when the screws are applied. He was too compromised by his financial strings to the insurance industry from the outset to be a true honest broker. But the rules and gentrified senority system in the Senate put him where he was. His best scenario was to delay and dillute a bill...that job has been done. He's done.

We're about to see where the bipartisanship game ends. Now that there are bills that need to be reconciled, there will be NO rushpublicans at the table...they had their chance, now it's gonna be done between a House that is strong on a public option and a Senate that is being pushed in that direction. Baucus will be lost in the dust.

:hi:
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 07:52 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. What's that smell? What's that sound?
Ah, 40 GOP senators' bacon frying in the fire, squealing like the pigs that they are, when reconciliation takes place.
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Hepburn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:02 AM
Response to Original message
8. Max Baucus is a fucking DINO...
...what the heck is there to LIKE about the asshole?

:shrug:
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USA_1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:32 AM
Response to Original message
10. No Public Option?

If so, I guarantee Dems will lose the independent voter.
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Better Today Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 11:17 AM
Response to Original message
11. I'm trying to figure out who likes MB, I mean the repubs still aren't going to
vote for it, the libs aren't happy with it, and the Bluedogs in and of themselves don't amount to a hill of beans in order to pass anything, (though I recognize they are a problem when trying to stop the the passage of bills).

What did he think he was going to gain? I guess maybe the insurance lobbies will love him, oh, that's right (pun intended)
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DCKit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:17 AM
Response to Original message
12. "...a group of senators, half Democrat and half Republican..." yet neither one or the other...
except in name.
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