I can find very little to like about the Baucus bill in the Senate. Sure, using funny numbers, you can reduce the deficit. That is the only good thing you can say. Other than that, it doesn’t tackle tort reform, doesn’t give individuals free choice in their insurance choices, doesn’t allow to buy over state lines…and long term, will not reduce costs.
That said, I am going to make a case defending Olympia Snowe.
Snowe now is the KEY person in this debate. Not Harry Reid, not Nancy Pelosi. The Obama Administration‘s key goal the last few months was to get moderates, both Republican and Democrat, to come along. Snowe is the harbinger of this. I doubt she will pull more than 1 or 2 more Republicans, possibly a Susan Collins or George Voinovich, but she is unlikely to be able to convince any other Republicans to go along. But the key here is that she gives cover to moderate Democrats, such as Evan Bayh and Blanche Lincoln. Those 8-10 moderate Democrats, many of whom are up for re-election in 2010, are the key.
Obama never wanted to use reconciliation. He never wanted to make this a more partisan debate. And Snowe’s ‘defection’ allows him that.
The problem is, his base will be furious. The left, led by Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean, have demanded the public option. The Unions are banding together against the Baucus bill, because of the tax on ‘Cadillac health plans’, which many union households have. Snowe’s vote basically makes that impossible. She is the leader of the bipartisan moderates now. She will have a seat at the table with Harry Reid in the Senate, and likely has the weight of the White House behind her. More than likely, any bill that expands costs and government power will be virtually vetoed by her…including the public option.
I would never have voted for this bill. EVER. It is a terrible bill, that long term will not reduce costs. That said, when we look back, we may thank Ms. Snowe from protecting us from much, much worse.