I don't feel like mincing words, so I'm just going to say it: Max Baucus is dumb. Just really, really dumb. Why?
Even if Baucus can't get Republican support, the plan already reflects some major GOP priorities. For example, Baucus opted not to include a government insurance plan to compete with private carriers. He's including nonprofit, member-owned cooperatives instead, something several liberals on his committee dislike. [. . .] The three Republicans involved in the talks - Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Olympia Snowe of Maine - are under intense pressure from leaders of their own party, some of whom have publicly dismissed Baucus' framework as a Democrat's plan. Baucus may not be able to get any of them to agree.Baucus spends months writing a Bad Bill--including scrapping provisions he himself really wanted just a year ago--in order to win Republican support. This support will never happen.
Why? Waterloo. This is their 15-year strategy, based on Bill Kristol's insight in 1993 that is Democrats pass health care reform, people will like Democrats more, and reward them for having finally Done Something about the great domestic policy issue of our generation. Republicans, House and Senate, are not going to support a Democratic health care bill, period. Max Baucus could have printed up Paul Ryan's health care reform bill, whited out Ryan's name and replaced it with his own, and every Republican on his committee would vote against it anyway.
This is what they do. They are Lucy with the football.
Kevin Drum is on about a similar phenomenon here: Barack Obama's judicial appointments--appointments of Republicans with support from the Republican Senators in their home states!--are stalled in the Senate just because.
I heard a commentator on the radio last week--I think it was WPR--offer the notion that trying to pass a bill through the Senate with anything less than 60 votes, the magic number to cut off a filibuster, was just not How It's Done. It would be scandalous. But this, too is false: For two centuries, the Senate happily passed bills on a majority vote almost all of the time. It is only in the last two Congresses, with the current Republican minority, that the filibuster has become the default--so much so that, as Drum notes in the link above, a lot of Obama's nominees may never get a vote in the Senate at all.
And yet, Baucus is selling out solid health care reforms to please these people, in search of the 60th vote that never used to be necessary from a party whose leadership is going to do everything they can screw Obama and stop all reform efforts.
If this bill is going to go down because of Republicans, at least make it a bill Democrats can be proud to say they sponsored, not some watered-down giveaway to insurance companies designed to appease unappeasable people.