It’s hard to remember, but there was a moment in the recent past when passing a health reform bill through Congress seemed like an easy task. That was back in early August. That was before the health care bill met Senator Max Baucus. Since then, Baucus has ripped, shredded and smeared the bill.
On August 1, the health care bill had passed through four out of five committees in the senate with relative ease. The bill was supposed to pass through the fifth with the same grace. Obviously, that was not what ended up happening. Why? Because Senator Baucus called for a bi-partisan effort, stopping the bill dead in its tracks in order to give the infamous “gang of six,” composed of conservative democrats and allegedly moderate republicans (if you can call Senator Grassley a moderate), a chance to kill the bill.
Since then the health reform bill has been cut down inch by inch and has been muddled with countless concessions and compromises — one of the victims of those compromises was the public option.
Bi-partisanship is wonderful. However it has been more than evident the Republicans are not looking to cooperate, they’re just looking to kill any bill that is proposed. So, here we are today, with a health care bill watered down with concessions Sen. Baucus has given away, still without any Republican votes. Baucus is literally destroying proper health reform, and now he will pay the price for it with his political career.
As of late, certain liberal organizations such as the Progressive Campaign Change Committee and Democracy for America have retaliated against Baucas with ads that call on the American public to hold the chair of the senate finance committee responsible diluting health reform and killing the public option.
In the ads, set to air in Montana and Washington D.C, Baucus is slammed for receiving over a million in campaign contributions from the health care industry. The ads features a man, named Bing Perrine from Baucus’ state of Montana, who has racked up $100,000 in debt from medical bills due to heart problems. Perrine closes the ad directing a rhetorical question towards Sen. Baucus, “Whose side are you really on?” These ads threaten Baucus with a loss in the primary elections in 2010.
Unfortunately, this type of hardball politics is what pro-reform activists need. It seems as if without these ads, nothing productive will get done on the left side of the isle.
This is not to say that politicians can never make mistakes. If Sen. Baucus had created the “gang of six,” realized the Republicans wanted no part of bi-partisanship and then fought to keep health care reform strong, that would have been appropriate. However, that is not what happened. Sen. Baucus continued to make the same stupid mistake of allowing the GOP to stop reform. This level of ignorance at such a crucial time is utterly unacceptable. Baucus should be held accountable for his disregard of proper reform. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”. Sen. Baucus has been fooled for two whole months. So shame on you Sen. Baucus, you do not deserve to be re-elected.
Of course it is important to note not all of the blame can be put on Sen. Baucus. A number of Democrats have had this same attitude of appeasement; they too have been targeted by angry activist groups. Senators Mike Ross and Olympia Snowe have had similar ads run against them.
Any Democrat without a spine at this point deserves to have their political career jeopardized, but the person who deserves the ads the most is Sen. Baucus. He had the most power to pass reform in the senate and he failed miserably. He watered down the bill for Republican votes, but got none. Then, to make things worse, when he realized he had no Republican votes, he did not have the presence of mind to re-strengthen the bill. Instead, he voted against adding a public option in the bill during the amendment process. He is the reason a public option becomes less likely every day. He deserves attack ads more than anyone else in the senate. He should have to pay for costing the American people health care reform.
Neil Thakore is a second-year political science major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed Under: Opinion