Waiting for Godot (aka Max Baucus)

Matt Yglesias writes:

Since late July, itís been clear that the strategy for killing health care reform is to delay it first. And itís clear that killing health care reform is the top priority of the Republican Party leadership. And Max Baucus has been working hand-in-glove with GOP leaders throughout the process to join them in their delaying tactics, even while presenting himself as the man leading the charge for reform. Itís odd. And itís continuing[.]

The funny thing is whatever Baucus presents is DOA anyway. Olympia Snowe has insisted, in the most stubborn, extreme and instransigent manner, that it be so, because she demands no public option. Since the Baucus plan will not have a public option, it is DOA with the House, where Speaker Pelosi has said no public option mean no bill. So why doesn't Baucus just let Snowe write his bill, Senate Leader Reid can throw it in the waste can and bring forth a different bill for vote in the Senate, go to conference with the House and formulate a bill (or bills) that can actually be enacted. Why wait for Godot?

Speaking for me only

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    "And the sun rose with no alternative (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by The Last Whimzy on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:24:33 PM EST
    On the nothing new."

    If Baucus is Godot, then who plays Vladimir, Estragon, Lucky and Pozzo?

    I'd guess Pozzo is the insurance lobby and Chuck Grassley is Lucky, most evident by his penchant for babbling incoherently.  Or if you believe Lucky has some wisdome to share with the world, then perhaps he is Stephen Colbert.

    Estragon is Obama, I guess, and Vladimir would be Obama's supporters who are now enmeshed in some restless turmoil about all this.

    They both swear they'll do themselves in if Godot doesn't arrive tomorrow.

    Elijah Wood plays the boy who keeps telling them it's for sure tomorrow.  just be patient.

    The boy is played by

    Medicare eligible: Baucus (1941), (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:37:31 PM EST
    Charles Grassley (1933).  

    And Hoyer (1939) (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:03:18 PM EST
    So all three should refuse it (none / 0) (#37)
    by sallywally on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:33:57 PM EST
    As govt retirees (none / 0) (#45)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 05:59:36 PM EST
    they have the option of buying Cadillac insurance as part of their retirement package.

    The cost for them is very reasonable...and since they're likely quite wealthy, they can certainly afford the premiums.

    In other words, they don't necessarily need Medicare.


    Which is most likely coordinated (none / 0) (#47)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 06:40:37 PM EST
    with Medicare.  

    President Obama as Lucky: (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:13:51 PM EST
    (1) Initially, say nothing; let others do the talking; (2) When you do start talking, talk fast and make it sound meaningful even if it isn't on further reflection; (3) Do not ruffle the feelings of the guy holding the leash.  

    Perfect. As for Waiting for Godot (none / 0) (#24)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:24:46 PM EST
    do not see it performed by undergraduates.  I did, just last year.  Trust me on this, people. :-)

    I was fortunate enought to (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:48:23 PM EST
    see the most recent production w/Patrick Stewart, et al.; but really enjoyed the Gate Theatre production at UCLA a couple years ago.  Not an easy play.

    Ah. Okay, make that (none / 0) (#32)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:06:16 PM EST
    don't go see Beckett performed by undergraduates who are a thousand miles from Hollywood and/or Broadway. :-)

    Gate Theatre (Dublin) presented by (none / 0) (#38)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:45:20 PM EST

    Ah. Missed that. Amazing. (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 05:08:42 PM EST
    LAT review: (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 05:12:03 PM EST
    And there is another relevance (none / 0) (#41)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 05:08:07 PM EST
    in this subthread.

    It occurs to me that watching what the Dems are doing these days well could be like watching Waiting for Godot as performed by, well, preschoolers.  

    And with an amateur director.


    I guess I'll be in the minority again (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by ademption on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:17:21 PM EST
    but I do think Baucus' bill will be where the action is and it will be something that looks like Wyden-Bennett. If you look at some of Ezra Klein's old postings on American Prospect, you'll see that Peter Orszag, when he was the CBO Director scored the Wyden-Bennett as budget neutral. As far as I can tell, it's the only bill that has come out budget neutral over the past few years. Plus, it's got bipartisan support with people like Bob Corker co-sponsoring it.  People like Ezra Klein and other insiders like Joe Klein support it also so it's got the establishment media's seal of approval. When Wyden-Bennett passes, it will get good press in the establishment media.

    I take President Obama and Pelosi at their word when they said that they wanted a deficit-neutral bill and that they wouldn't pass a bill that wasn't deficit neutral. To me, that's code for Wyden-Bennett. Maybe add in some additional Medicaid provisions and allowing people to join the federal employee healthcare plan (group private insurance plans) as THE public option and I think a deal could be made between the Baucus group of 6, the White House and Pelosi.

    JMHO of course...

    Problem with that is (none / 0) (#44)
    by caseyOR on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 05:55:17 PM EST
    Wyden-Bennett is not a good health care bill. And it does nothing to contain costs. Nothing curbing deductibles or co-pays or rising premiums. All it does is eliminate employer paid health insurance and force everyone to buy their own. Is it any surprise that Republicans have signed on to it?

    Ron Wyden is my senator and usually a reliable liberal. On this, though, he is just wrong.


    I have to believe it is because the WH (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:47:01 PM EST
    backs the Baucus/Gang of Six approach. Nothing else makes sense.

    That said, the WH could change their mind in the next few weeks, given enough pressure from the House - if Pelosi can tell Obama 'no public option = no bill' and make him believe it.

    Everything the WH has said in the last few days tells me they are more willing to push back on that message from Pelosi than they are to push back on Baucus, including Burnett saying 'that's politics' today.

    But why would anyone, including Obama, (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:50:09 PM EST
    believe that now Pelosi has so much backbone?

    It isn't about backbone (5.00 / 3) (#35)
    by cawaltz on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:28:59 PM EST
    It's about survival. Everyone in the House is up for re election in 2010. Pelosi has to give people a reason to keep her coalition in power.

    In onr paragraph or less, will (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 01:50:24 PM EST
    someone please explain the policy reasons some in Congress oppose any public option?  Thanks.  

    On the GOP side (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:28:13 PM EST
    I can explain it pretty easily- non defense/national security spending goes against the wishes of our founders and impoverishes our nation (never mind that this is on its face untrue),  but no from the left I can't think of a reason- unless you think that CO-Ops could provide greater overall flexibility and could result in better outcomes (due to the multiple approaches to them it allows real-time experimentation).

    Yeh, to blame Snowe on the GOP side (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:13:50 PM EST
    is like blaming a species for Darwinian survival.

    I deplore the Repubs, but I don't blame them; species gotta do what species gotta do.  Plus there's not as much that Dem voters can do about them.

    But Dems, they are supposed to be a different species.  So if they prove to be not the fittest for us, let them not survive the next election.


    To answer your question, (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Anne on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:32:14 PM EST
    first, you have to get out your Obama/Blue Dog-to-English dictionary and see whether the term "policy" still means what it used to.

    I suspect you will find that in the new dictionary that was issued in secret after January 20th, there are a lot of words - like "transparency," "change," "accountability," - that no longer mean what they used to, and "policy" is in there, too.  I believe it now reads: whatever it needs to be to keep us in power.

    The new-definition policy grounds for objecting to a public option are that having such an option conflicts with the more-apparent-than-ever policy of making sure the spigots gushing cash into Democratic coffers from the insurance and medical industries remain wide open.

    With Democrats in the majority in Congress and in the WH, the industry is essentially buying a lottery ticket for the chance to hit the Mega-Billions: a guarantee of an individual mandate AND subsidies.  A public option is the difference between having all five numbers AND the big money ball, and only hitting three numbers and getting a minimal prize.

    The problem is that if you are still operating with a standard-issue dictionary, you still think policy is the thing that is supposed to be developed to make people's lives better, which is why coming up with old-school policy reasons for no public option is almost impossible.  

    And why none of this makes sense.


    Welcome to the post policy era (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by hookfan on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:39:20 PM EST
    of politics. . .

    Which includes (none / 0) (#25)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:25:16 PM EST
    some "post policy unity schtick"

    That's essentially... (5.00 / 4) (#18)
    by sj on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:48:47 PM EST
    The new-definition policy grounds for objecting to a public option are that having such an option conflicts with the more-apparent-than-ever policy of making sure the spigots gushing cash into Democratic coffers from the insurance and medical industries remain wide open.

    ... what Jane Hamsher is saying.  Read her article if you're not prone to depression.


    The idea that policy for the current (none / 0) (#39)
    by hairspray on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:58:17 PM EST
    administration is anything that will keep them in power is not going to work.  The public already doesn't like the bailouts and golden parachutes, etc.  If that is what we get more of why keep THEM in power?

    Can I try? (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Steve M on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:50:06 PM EST
    Some believe that a public option is bad because any kind of government-run program is inherently bad and moves us closer to total government control of our lives.  I guess you might call that an ideological reason rather than a policy reason.

    The non-ideological policy argument is that private insurers will not be able to survive in competition with a government-run program, because the government can run a deficit, unilaterally set prices and the like, and the private insurers cannot keep up on an uneven playing field.  So they believe the public option will end up as a monopoly for reasons other than its superior ability to deliver health care.


    what makes this line of reasoning (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by cawaltz on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:24:58 PM EST
    particular bs is the people who are making these arguments are the same ones who want to dictate family planning(who you can marry, when you must have children) or the ones who felt it was hunky dory to let the government listen into your personal calls.

    It's about the money. The rest of the crap is just rationalization for the base.


    Except they do actually know it will deliver (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by sallywally on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:29:49 PM EST
    better health care and that for that reason everyone will desert the insurance corporations ...

    I'd leave the "better" out (none / 0) (#48)
    by Fabian on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 06:46:15 PM EST
    It will deliver health care.

    is enough for a lot of folks.

    Pre-existing condition?
    Unaffordable premiums?
    Sky high deductibles?
    Low lifetime or annual limits?

    Actually deliver health care without worrying about any of those?  That's an instant sale for quite a few folks!


    Oh, Steve (none / 0) (#29)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:53:01 PM EST
    You're so... so... so rational!

    Speaking of which, I just heard Wolf Blitzer explain patiently to his viewing audience that the "public option" means -- direct quote here -- "a government-run insurance agency."


    Steve. If the private insurers are (none / 0) (#40)
    by hairspray on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 05:01:45 PM EST
    non profits, will they still have a bad playing field?   Is it the "for profits" or the "non profits" that are sweating now?

    because it sounds bad (none / 0) (#11)
    by Dadler on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:28:15 PM EST
    because it can easily, in the largely ignorant american populace, be manipulated to mean socialist, communist, pedophile, foot fetishist, you name it.  if one thing is clear in america today, it has that dimwitted perception and greased-pocket appearance have soundly trounced reality.  and, of course, because i can think of no less imaginative body than the u.s. congress.  when was the last time an even marginally creative and imaginative, even partially paradigm busting idea or program really took hold and blossomed in DC?

    the pathological hatred... (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Dadler on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:29:45 PM EST
    ...of the idea of government also infects this country like no other in the industrialized, reasonably democratic, world.

    Seriously (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:30:19 PM EST
    this a country where 40% wants to keep the Governments hands off of Medicare according to recent polling.

    that's why i said... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Dadler on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:33:24 PM EST
    ...the IDEA of government.  which is why i also said perception had soundly trounced reality.  it's no different that baggin on lawyers.  everyone does it...until they need one.  in short, america is an intellectual and emotional mess in its collective heart.

    Why? Because (none / 0) (#3)
    by dk on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:10:03 PM EST
    Steny Hoyer said today that the public option may have to go.

    Meh (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:12:25 PM EST
    First he actually did not say that. Second, who is Steny Hoyer to the Progressive Block? Nobody, that's who.

    Call me when Pelosi says something like that - she has influence with the Progressive Block. Hoyer is a tool of the Blue Dogs.

    What he says about it is less than meaningless.


    If the House Majority Leader (none / 0) (#6)
    by dk on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:17:33 PM EST
    has no power, that would be fine with me.  I guess time will tell if it's true.

    With the Progressive Block? (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:26:15 PM EST
    Time is unnecessary. Pelosi and Obama have influence.

    the Progressive Block loathes Hoyer.


    Seems (none / 0) (#5)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:17:15 PM EST
    to me that there won't be any reform at all or at least that's the message I'm getting.

    Honest to God (5.00 / 6) (#30)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:55:09 PM EST
    better no "reform" than an individual mandate with no public option. <shudder>

    Yup (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by nycstray on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:57:15 PM EST
    I second (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 06:00:57 PM EST

    Baucus & Obama vs. Pelosi & Progressives, (none / 0) (#7)
    by fairleft on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:21:55 PM EST
    which side backs down? Based on past experience, we know the answer to that. So Baucus's conservative bill is not dead even when it doesn't have a public option.

    Pelosi seems to be the only Dem (none / 0) (#49)
    by coigue on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 07:38:38 PM EST
    who knows what to do with the power we have now.