Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Butting Heads With Buttheads.

Ah, the putrid stench of bipartisanship!
For the moment, at least, Max Baucus has come up short.
Mr. Baucus, the Montana Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who has led a months-long effort to develop bipartisan legislation to overhaul the nation’s health care system, is expected to unveil his plan Wednesday morning with Republicans not yet on board.
The Finance Committee’s top Republican, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa – who is one of the so-called bipartisan six — issued a statement on Tuesday evening chastising the Democratic leaders and the White House for pushing forward on a bill that he said was not ready and that he could not yet support.
In many ways, however, the legislative dance is just starting.
Democrat and Republican aides alike say they expect the negotiations among the bipartisan six to continue until the Finance Committee begins formal proceedings on the health care legislation sometime next week. A deal with Mr. Grassley is still possible.
Once Mr. Baucus puts out his proposal, the committee will go over it in an executive session. The senators on the committee, 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans, will also be given a deadline for submitting any amendments. And there will be a torrent of them on both sides.
Mr. Baucus, however, like a baseball manager with a bench full of pinch-hitters, has the advantage.
When the deadline for amendments arrives, Mr. Baucus will have a clearer picture of where lawmakers stand, particularly his fellow Democrats, some of whom, like Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, say he has already made too many concessions to Republicans.
And until the start of the committee’s formal mark-up proceedings, Mr. Baucus can incorporate amendments into his bill, or negotiate with Mr. Grassley and other Republicans with an eye toward compromises that might make certain other amendments moot.
So a fuller test of whether Mr. Baucus has succeeded in securing a bipartisan deal will come as he and Mr. Grassley negotiate changes to the bill over the next week or so. Mr. Grassley, in his statement, promised to keep trying.
“We’ve been clear from the start that we’re willing to stay at the table,” Mr. Grassley said. “There’s no reason not to keep working until we get it right. In the end, legislation that impacts every American should have strong bipartisan support.”
Why should Democrats continue to capitulate to a Republican Party with no apparent interest in meaningful health care reform? Why should my desire as a self-employed person working on contracts and commission to buy into a public option be in the hands of people like Chuck Grassley when Democrats control Congress? Indeed, why vote for Democrats at all if they mirror Republican Party members with no ideas and for whom I have never cast a single vote?
I'm not writing Democrats off--yet. But they'd better give me some of that change I've heard so much about on this one, or all bets are off.

BeltwayBlips: vote it up!

1 comment:

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