Baucus Deep-Sixes The Gang Of Six?
Yesterday the White House basically shut down the Gang of Six talks, when Robert Gibbs said that Mike Enzi's comments over the weekend showed that he had "walked away from the table." In truth, they probably knew this for weeks, and were just looking for an excuse to end things. Now Max Baucus is largely saying the same thing, that this months-long process has been something of a charade, and that reform will happen with or without the GOP.
U.S. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana says a health care overhaul will happen this year even if Republicans back out of bipartisan talks under growing public pressure and that the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy could help hold together a compromise deal [...]
"I think the chances are still good," Baucus told The Associated Press in an interview Monday. "I talked to them, and they all want to do health care reform. But the sad part is a lot politics have crept in. They are being told by the Republican Party not to participate."
If it falls apart, Democrats will have to turn to the "nuclear option" — forcing through an inferior bill through a process that only requires 51 votes instead of 60, Baucus said.
Using budget reconciliation is not a "nuclear option," it's been used dozens of times in the past, including to achieve Republican tax cuts and other goals. That's just the AP accepting Republican frames.
But overall, the content here is a good sign. While Baucus still believes that a bipartisan bill would be superior to something pushed with a majority - I don't know why he thinks that, though I have some theories - he acknowledges that something must pass and he cannot wait forever. Indeed, as the Republicans have basically vowed to derail any reform bill, there is no such thing as the "superior" bipartisan option. So we're looking to reconciliation.
Meanwhile, Mark Begich kinda sorta supported the public option yesterday, meaning we're that much closer to the necessary votes in the Senate. There are issues with using the reconciliation process, which I'll get into in a later post.
The bipartisan circle jerk is falling apart. More lawmakers are signing on to the public option. Health care events are ramping up throughout the country.
I wouldn't say the tide is turning, but there are slightly better signs.