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Aravosis: What if you threw a bipartisan bill and nobody came?

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:40 AM
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Aravosis: What if you threw a bipartisan bill and nobody came?
What if you threw a bipartisan bill and nobody came?

by John Aravosis (DC)
September 17, 2009

Ezra Klein notes a fact that we talked about yesterday. Why include so many Republican ideas in the Baucus bill if no Republicans are joining on board?

At this time, Baucus has no Republican votes for his legislation. Olympia Snowe is a maybe, and Enzi and Grassley are pretty certain to vote against it. Conceding so much in return for so little isn't just bad politics -- it's bad precedent. Why should Republicans sign onto Baucus's proposals in the future if they can simply adjust the bill to their liking and then withhold their support at the end?

If Baucus's Republican colleagues want to support this bill and give him some cover, their presence should be welcomed. But if not, Baucus should loudly and publicly allow the Democrats on his committee to strengthen the bill, as it will be a Democratic majority that passes the bill. A bipartisan group should shape a bipartisan bill. But a bipartisan group should not get to shape a partisan bill, particularly if that bill becomes partisan because they have abandoned it.

I'd go further than Ezra. Regardless of the level of GOP support, Democrats on the committee, and in the Senate more generally, should have the ability to shape the bill as they see fit. Max Baucus doesn't run the Senate, and he isn't the only committee chair involved in this process. Considering the amount of money the insurance industry has given Baucus, it's rather obscene that he even has a role in this debate - especially since President Obama promised us during the campaign that he was not going to let special interests and lobbyists craft his policies and legislation. Suddenly, a man bought off by the very industry we're trying to regulate has been appointed by the president as chief regulator. OpenLeft did a search of Baucus' top ten donors - here they are. Anything look familiar?

I worked in the Senate for five years. Don't think for a moment that members of Congress aren't acutely aware of who gives them the most money, and don't think for a moment that it doesn't buy influence, because it does.

Take-home points on the laughable Baucus bill:

1. Baucus included everything the Republicans wanted in it, at the expense of the people.

2. In spite of that, there is NO support of this bill by Republicans.

3. If this Republican-shaped bill passes, the Democrats will be branded with it for all time, as they will have pushed through an egregious failure of a bill that helps no one except insurance and pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment suppliers, and will have done it without a single Republican vote. Democrats will own this farce. Completely.

4. Without a single Republican voting for it, Republicans will receive the gift of a mortally wounded bill that guarantees to kill effective health care reform for many years into the future. And they will bludgeon Democrats for all time as responsible for it.

5. After all of this time that Max Baucus wasted behind closed doors, ostensibly crafting a *bipartisan* bill, he emerged yesterday with NOTHING. He could have saved us two months of time by presenting this piece of garbage back in July. Even as Baucus deliberately shut out the rest of the Finance Committee from the deliberations of the Gang of Six, Baucus' secretive meetings were a cagily crafted scam to placate Republicans and Baucus' own Big Health Care benefactors. Those were the ONLY goals.

6. Why has Max Baucus not been summarily stripped of his Finance Committee chairmanship?

and, most importantly,

7. When these chickens come home to roost, the American people will blame Democrats for creating and passing weakened, crippled health care legislation. They won't care that Republicans did everything they could to guarantee that result. Furious voters will strike with the vengeance of people who have been lied to and sold out by Congress and by those in the Executive Branch.

And Democrats will overwhelmingly pay the price.

Who will step forward in the Democratic party and LEAD?

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