Archive for December 28th, 2009

What Baucus Said

by JC

Ok. Now that I’ve stirred the pot here by posting Baucus’ video, let me post up the transcript of his words and video, from CSPAN, and let them speak for themselves. Read his words, not in the context of how he sounded saying them (which is what the conservablogs are doing), but in the context of when, where, and in what role did they occur.

Max Baucus is the chairman of the Senate Finance committee, arguably the most important position to advancing a health care reform bill. We have debated Baucus’ role on this committee endlessly, here and on other blogs. While my opinion on Baucus’ efforts are well known, it appears that his tirade, as filmed by CSPAN, and rebroadcast by YouTube are casting him in another light.

I thought early on that Baucus was naive to think he could garner any bipartisan support, and that his strategy of positioning his legislation such that it could gain bipartisan support would eventually implode. Which it seems to have done, as it has ignited a firestorm between progressive, left and liberal factions in the health reform debate, and castigation from the right.

So when Max goes on the floor two days before the final vote, and unloads, he does himself and his legislative fforts a great disservice, as he hands his opposition the tools to derail his efforts to shepherd his bill through conference. It was a serious tactical breach in what to this point had been a carefully thought out, though misguided, strategy of bipartisanship.

I’d offer up that the chairman of the Finance committee melting down right before the final vote on his bill to be not his finest hour, when in essence it should have been. If I were of the “kill the bill” mentality–which I am not, though I think the mandate needs to be struck from the bill, and much backfilling needs to be done–then I would celebrate this outburst as being Baucus’ “macaca” moment.

While history will look at Baucus and his role in health reform, I don’t think that moments like this reflect positively on his legacy, given that they are a reaction to his own failed strategy of bipartisanship.

Full transcript of Baucus’ words below the fold.
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