Some of you may remember a few days back how Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) had said that he was willing to introduce a bipartisan healthcare bill to Senate, but if he couldn't assemble such a coalition he was willing to go it alone with just the Democrats.
Well, guess what? He did:
Sen. Max Baucus' decision to release his long-awaited health care overhaul bill with no Republicans on board dims the chances for a bipartisan compromise on President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.
The Senate Finance Committee chairman insisted Tuesday that he'll keep negotiating with the three Republicans and two fellow Democrats who've been in closed-door talks with him for months on the bill he was to reveal Wednesday. Baucus, D-Mont., said he hopes that by the time the committee votes on the bill, as early as next week, Republicans will be there.
But for now, despite numerous gestures to Republicans, Baucus has fallen short in his quest to assemble a coalition of senators from both parties behind his proposal. Obama also hoped for bipartisan support behind plans for reshaping the nation's $2.5 trillion health care system to hold down costs and cover the uninsured.
In true Democratic fashion, Senator Baucus has essentially given his Republican colleagues the middle finger and decided to go ahead without their input. It is now official, this IS the Democrats' healthcare plan. This is their debacle. Without any Republican support, they are the ones responsible for it.
But, going back to the excerpt I quoted, let me just point out how big of a pile of crap Sen. Baucus' assertion that Republicans have not offered their point of view is. There have been, contrary to Sen. Baucus and the Obama administration's assertions, numerous attempts from the Republicans to get their ideas into the legislation. In fact, between both the House and the Senate, Republicans have offered up 800 amendments and other pieces of legislation to get their point of view incorporated into the healthcare reform debate. The problem? All of them, yes, all 800 of them, have been shot down:
"The thing that's killing me is that those very members on the Republican side have over the course of the last five months offered some 800 amendments and individual pieces of legislation to the -- to the president and to (House Speaker) Nancy (Pelosi) and Harry Reid, to say, 'Hey, this is our contribution.' Every last piece has been rejected," said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
On Wednesday night, Obama told a nationally televised audience watching his speech to a joint session of Congress that he will listen to a "serious set of proposals" on health care.
Well, Mr. Obama, and you, too, Sen. Baucus, there are several serious proposals that have been offered up, the only trouble is you haven't listened to them, despite your assertions. In fact, you have done everything you can to shut opposing plans and points of view out of the debate, despite your paeans to bipartisanship.
What we Republicans and conservatives can hope for now is that a) no Republicans defect to the other side when the final Democrats-only bill is offered up for a vote and b) the Democrats continue to destroy themselves through their infighting, which has been well demonstrated here, over this bill.
We must make sure that they own this bill now.