- Senator Max Baucus
The New York Times had this to say about Max Baucus:
He conceded that it was a mistake to rule out a fully government-run health system, or a “single-payer plan,” not because he supports it but because doing so alienated a large, vocal constituency and left Mr. Obama’s proposal of a public health plan to compete with private insurers as the most liberal position.
Matt Yglesias doesn’t get it:
I thin that’s right. Framing effects are important in politics. The public-private competition is supposed to be a compromise between the pristine vision of single-payer and the desire of private insurers not to be put out of business. It creates a situation in which insurers are challenged to prove that single-payer advocates are wrong, rather than simply assert it. But with no single-payer plan in the mix, this gets lost, and the compromise becomes the leftmost anchor of the debate. A single-payer plan couldn’t possibly have passed, but I think having hearings on single-payer and having one committee draft a serious single-payer bill that gets a serious CBO score would have been a useful exercise. In particular, it would have focused the mind on the costs involved in rejecting this option.
Neither does Duncan Black:
I don’t know why the Dems never learn this lesson. If you start with the compromise position, you will and up compromising on that. They prefer a strategy of pulling together a coalition and getting them all to buy in on something they can agree with, but than that of course gets watered down into crap no one actually supports.
Nor does Paradox:
The entire premise of the Yglesias post is bullshit—give me a break, that Republican-wannabe Baucus didn’t somehow have the magical ability to give up on single payer from the git-go, hell, single payer was given up on in stupid weakness because of this moron Baucus—but the point still vividly stands that giving up on single payer before we ever started was a terrible, terrible mistake.
I do think the precise mechanics of this flaming fuckup would good to know for the liberal community, accountability is a good thing. The first I ever heard of it was last year in Texas at Netroots Nation from Ezra Klein, who actually had the youthfully obnoxious arrogance to state having single payer as a goal “was a naïve pursuit of perfection.” Well, Ezra, just where did you learn that? Who gave you that strategy to push that was and is so stupid? It’s not just me, your old companeros Atrios and Yglesias say it too. Well? I suppose graduation to the establishment big time means the badass Ezra can ignore the lowly blogger question, but we’ll see.
The obnoxious sneering from a hopelessly wrong fool isn’t the point, it’s that even a nobody from nowhere like me knows never to give up crucial goals in negotiation before you even start, so how come professional politicians like Democrats don’t know?
Bob Somerby gets it:
Are we all Professor Rosen now? Having asked, let us offer a fairly obvious speculation:
In all likelihood, Baucus took single-payer off the table for a very good reason—because he isn’t trying to create a progressive health reform package. His statement to the Times was pure BS. After all, Baucus is a corporate man (data below). He wants health reform near the “center.”
After the fact, he was covering his keister for those on the left. Our other professor bought it.
Yglesias penned a thoughtful piece about the meaning of Baucus’ move. He too failed to note an obvious possibility: When Baucus voiced his regrets to the Times, it was a big silly con! (emphasis added)
From Physicians for a National Health Program:
Here’s why Baucus is not doing the peoples business:
According to OpenSecrets.org over his career he has taken donations from:
The Insurance Industry: $1,170,313
Health Professionals $1,016,276
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products Industry $734,605
Hospitals/Nursing Homes $541,891
Health Services/HMOs $439,700
That is a grand total of $3,902,785. Can we trust Baucus to put aside the profits of the industries that have kept him in the senate? Will he put the people’s necessities ahead of the profits of his contributors? Baucus has shown his bias and should be removed from leading the health care reform effort by the Democratic Party leadership.
In 2008 Baucus had virtually no challenger in Montana. A little-known Republican was on the ballot, Baucus won with 73% of the vote. But, Baucus sought big donations from big business anyway. He used his connections to corporations with business before his committee to raise an immense campaign fund of more than $11 million. In 2008, 91% of his donations come from individuals living outside of Montana, which is why he is more the “Senator for K Street” then the Senator for Montana. Corporate health profiteers who invested in Baucus will now benefit from his stewardship over health care reform. His 2008 donations from health care profiteers included:
Health Professionals $537,141
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $524,813
Health Services/HMOs $364,500
Hospitals/Nursing Homes $332,826
That is $1,826,652 Baucus took from industries who he can now make wealthier by deforming health care reform.
Do you get it?
Not only are we not gonna get single-payer out of this motley crew, we’re not even gonna get a true “public option.” All we’re gonna get is a Rube Goldbergesque clusterfuck that guarantees the health care leeches will continue to grow fat on our blood.
Meanwhile some of the allegedly brightest minds in Left Blogistan will be bleating about the Democrats’ “bad strategy.” The problem is that it isn’t a bad strategy – it is a very effective strategy. The Democratic leadership (Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Baucus et. al) are accomplishing their goal – to avoid real health care reform at all cost.
We know the Republicans aren’t on our side, but the Democrats pretend to be our friends while selling us down the river. They are the political equivalent of the Washington Generals. They get paid to put on a show and lose.
Nothing will change until the lefty blogosphere quits making excuses for them
The point is that if you’re making big policy changes, the final form of the policy has to be good enough to do the job. You might think that half a loaf is always better than none — but it isn’t if the failure of half-measures ends up discrediting your whole policy approach.
Which brings us back to health care. It would be a crushing blow to progressive hopes if Mr. Obama doesn’t succeed in getting some form of universal care through Congress. But even so, reform isn’t worth having if you can only get it on terms so compromised that it’s doomed to fail.