Matt Yglesias is unimpressed by the latest substance-free self-promotion coming from Senator Baucus on health care reform. Today, Baucus is announcing that he and the rest of his secret bipartisan handshake clubhouse have come up with yet another plan, this one purporting to “cover 95% of legal U.S. residents,” while reducing the federal deficit in its 10th year.
Yglesias offers two possible explanations, each of which seems pretty reasonable. Either Baucus means the bill “covers” Americans in only the very loosest definition of the term, or he’s employing some budgeting tricks and accounting language. Yglesias doesn’t mention a third possibility, that Baucus has sold all federal lands to major pharmaceutical companies.
It’s hard not to be skeptical when Senator Baucus is involved. He has a well-developed history of promising substantive reform before wilting under the pressure of Senate Republicans. I’d certain that it’s vastly more important to Baucus that he pass a bill to burnish his legacy than it is that he makes a dent in real costs for American workers and real coverage for Americans living in poverty.
Each passing day makes the failure of the Democratic majority in Congress and the President to act decisively on health care a reminder that one shouldn’t place too much faith in elected officials. This process has been defined by its timidity, its secretiveness, and its contempt for citizens. Last night, I saw an ad that told me that Barack Obama and the Congress have a plan for health care reform. All I could think then, and now, is when might they feel comfortable sharing it with us?
Leading the “charge” all along? Senator Baucus, who might have to invite an actual Democrat to his next meeting if he wants to call it bipartisan.