Maybe It’s Max Baucus Who Is Playing Us

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After lots of noise in recent days that the Senate Finance Committee might be nearing a final, bipartisan deal on a bill, CNN reports the (gasp!) shocking news that Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) think that the bill is “not ready for prime time” and couldn’t possibly be voted on before the August recess.

A Daily Kos diarist suggests that this is a sign that committee chair Max Baucus, who has supposedly been trying to get Enzi and Grassley on board, “got played” by the Republicans, who never intended to allow a vote before recess (or perhaps ever).

But why does it have to be that Baucus “got played”? Max Baucus is a smart guy, and he’s been supposedly working on this for months and months. He has repeatedly promised bills and repeatedly broken his own deadlines. At what point do we have to start assuming that it’s Baucus who is acting in bad faith? Max Baucus runs the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate Finance Committee has repeatedly failed to produce a health care bill. If a bill is delayed long enough, health care reform could fail entirely.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one. Maybe Max Baucus just doesn’t think health care reform should happen.

Does anyone think that the Republicans are going to end up voting for the health care bill on the floor anyway? News flash: unless a bill is produced that magically becomes wildly popular, they’re not going to vote for it. They’re going to vote against it and use it as a wedge issue. That’s politics. Max Baucus is not so stupid that he does not see this. He must know that the GOP is probably not negotiating in good faith. So don’t you have to conclude that he just isn’t that interested in health care reform? There are plenty of reasons to believe that’s what’s really going on: Baucus takes huge amounts of money from the health care industry. And even if that’s not a problem, this probably is.

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