Earlier this week, Max Baucus, Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released his bipartisan attempt at a health care bill. From the moment it hit the Senate floor, the Baucus Plan was bipartisanly hated.
Baucus is a man who has received millions of dollars from the health care industry and (as previously reported here on the HuffPost) he even got the former vice president for pubic policy at WellPoint -- the health insurance parent of Blue Cross -- to author his original bill. Clearly, he is just fine with the status-quo, and seems intent on disturbing the health care industry as little as possible with this bill.
But I don't want to get bogged down going into why the Baucus Plan is so bad. That has been discussed over and over and over again, by people a lot more qualified than I. Rather, I'd like to try and focus in on the significance of both parties' reactions, which are extremely telling as to where this debate will finally end up.
It is not surprising that many liberal democrats have openly rejected this proposal. It is a gift to the insurance companies, who at this point, have Baucus in their hip pocket.
But what floored me was the news that Baucus couldn't even drum up any Republican support for his anemic plan. In essence, the bill the Democrats considered too conservative and too easy on the healthcare industry, the Republicans thought was too liberal and brought about too radical a change. The GOP could not even throw some support behind this Democratic plan -- a plan that the Democrats themselves despise -- in order to reach a compromise on health care.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have just lost cabin pressure.
If Republicans are not willing to accept even this watered-down bill as a compromise, I think it is safe to say that the Republicans will never, under any circumstances, support any Democrat-sponsored health care bill no matter what the plan calls for. At this point, I'm starting to think President Obama could propose a "health care" bill that was actually an extension of the Bush tax-cuts, along with a plan to give every American a free gun, and the Republicans would still oppose it.
If the President does not get the message now that Republican opposition to the Baucus Plan means they will not vote for any kind of health care bill, he never will. President Obama needs to realize that he's going to have to forgo this attempt at bipartisanship if he ever intends to get a functional health care bill passed. For his sake, and with 2010 election season getting closer each passing day, this epiphany had better hit him sooner rather than later.