Even as we head into the weekend, bloggers are still finding plenty to pick over in the Baucus plan.
For starters, on the State Policy Blog, David Strom raises a provocative issue about the fate of American health care being determined by six people in Congress. His thought: policy debate, especially for “hot button issues” such as health reform, should begin with a commitment to free market principles.
“Over the past few weeks the course of the policy debate in Washington has been plotted by a Senator from Montana seeking to entice a few other Senators from Iowa and Maine. As much as the public has been focused on the storm and strife at the town hall meetings taking place around the country, the fate of the “reform” was being decided in large measure by the negotiations of a “gang of six” Senators. In the end Baucus was unable to secure any Republican support even from the likes of Olympia Snowe, but the bill that was just revealed was largely the product of negotiations between a few members of the Senate Finance committee. Is this how our fates should be determined, by the idiosyncrasies of a few senior members of the Senate?”
Some rambunctious cyber chatter was triggered by tough talk in the opinion columns.
Jonathan Chait chose to take Charles Krauthammer to task in The Treatment for accusing President Obama of misleading the public on health reform. Chait got stirred up by Krauthammer’s column, “Does He Lie,” which appeared in today’s Washington Post:
“[Krauthammer] wants to cast doubt upon Obama’s plan by picking up any available weapon.” He also argues that some of Obama’s proposed cuts in waste, fraud and abuse would “be a total no-brainer consensus issue if the world weren’t filled with Charles Krauthammers trying to kill it off for partisan reasons.”
Meanwhile, Shirley Wang on the the Wall Street Journal’s health blog weighed in on the individual mandate by quoting David Rivkin and Lee Casey, both Justice Department attorneys during two Republican Administrations: “A requirement that all Americans buy insurance is common to all the major health overhaul bills – but it’s not constitutional.”
And on this day three since Baucus officially unveiled his Finance Committee bill, the need to get to the bottom of some of the bill’s moving parts was rampant around the blogosphere.
Rory Cooper, on The Heritage Foundation’s Foundry simply called the bill “The Max Tax,” charging that the measure is “more of the same,” especially with the inclusion of “a public plan disguised as a co-op.” As part of the argument to “hit the reset button,” Cooper also notes the bill’s “seven fatal flaws.”
And Ezra Klein sought to explore both some of the policies and the politics now in play. He offered wide-ranging interviews with Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D- W.Va., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., neither of whom have embraced the Baucus bill, as a way to provide this sort of inventory. He also offered his insights about why both senators much matter so much to the White House and the Democratic leadership:
“Rockefeller and Wyden, in other words, aren’t being courted just for their votes. Rather, their votes are needed to ensure other votes for the bill. There’s a certain subset of liberal Democrats who look to Rockefeller for cues, and a certain subset of Democrats who admired Wyden’s Healthy Americans Act and take his opinion very seriously. As neither of them was included in the Gang of Six process, neither is inclined to give the bill a free pass. And Baucus and the administration are now working pretty hard to win their support, which means that there’s a real chance their concerns will be fixed, and their priorities included.”