Robert Parry, writing on OEN (June 12), discussed the 50 million uninsured Americans and the 119 million currently insured, who are thought to be dissatified with their existing healthcare insurance. He discusses further the pitfalls in Congress, especially in the Senate, of having a public plan which assumedly might attract many from those two numbers. Some of his thoughts on the Senate follows:
Despite similar horror stories, which are common among Americans as they navigate through the profit-driven medical industry, nearly all Republicans and some "centrist" Democrats – like Sens. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Max Baucus of Montana – have voiced opposition to offering an attractive government-run insurance option.
The Washington Post published a story on May 31 by Alec MacGillis, which first got me thinking. It made the point that red states will fare better than blue states in possible healthcare insurance reform legislation. Their Ceci Connelly started her article with: "Nowhere else in the world is so much money spent with such poor results."
Methinks it's time to advocate for Obama's public fund requirement, which he brought up in Green Bay, Wisconsin this week.
North Dakota Senators
Byron Dorgan has been in Congress since 1980 and now serves on the Appropriation Committee. As is now widely published on OEN pages, North Dakota enjoys low unemployment and a sound banking system--the latter as a result of owning and operating their own bank. Both Dorgan and Kent Conrad came up through that system, have each left the State Tax Commissioner's office to come to Washington. Their committees encompass content and the money to back it up. In the end, they will both act as good Democrats for their president, but they want some level headed answers.
We're aware of Jon Tester's role in shifting Montana toward the Democrats, and Brian Schweitzer's becoming a Democratic Governor. So who is Max Baucus? For starters, he and Senator Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa met for lunch with President Obama and Vice President Biden on May 22 (before spring break for Congress). He proudly displays a picture of the event. During the time home, Senator Baucus had a full slate, visiting towns in Montana. Then on June 2 he had another meeting with the President. I do not suggest anything sinister about the meetings. However, keep in mind that by June 11 the President was in Green Bay, Wisconsin to tell the people he wants a public option in the healthcare reform Act. He follows with a speech to the AMA in Chicago on Monday, the 15th.
Max Baucus, a sixth generation Montanan and a graduate of Stanford University Law School, is determined to have a "bipartisan" healthcare reform bill. He's been in Congress since 1974. It will likely be a fight to the finish--projected to be the end of September. His official webpage shows he graduated Helena High School in 1959. He's walked the whole state and advertises Montana Values. We know him now as the man who says there will be a healthcare bill, documented in the Wall Street Journal's interview with him and Senator Grassley. New York Times provided a link to the video. The discussion lasts nearly a half hour.
Chuck Grassley serves on the Committee on Finance.
"Senator Grassley is the most senior Republican member of this committee and, therefore, serves as the committee's Ranking Member. Senator Grassley calls this committee the quality of life committee because of the committee's jurisdiction, which includes all tax matters, Social Security; Medicare, Medicaid, social services, unemployment compensation, tariffs and international trade. Legislation acted on by the Committee on Finance raises virtually all federal revenue, and expenditures authorized by this committee represent as much as two-thirds of the federal budget. Overall, the committee handles legislation involving more money than any other committee in Congress. " -- (The quote comes from his webpage.)
Also pertinent biographical information includes that he is a farmer and has a Ph.D from the University of Iowa. It's easy to find the names of his wife and children on his official webpage and there are slide shows of places where he spoke. Every year he visits every one of Iowa's 99 counties. He began his Congressional work in 1974. This is his fifth term in the Senate. His page is as folksy as a County Fair. (He had an hour conversation with Sonia Sotomayor and invited us to read about it. In the interest of brevity I saved that for a later time.)
A new Wyoming Senator
With the exception of the governor, all Wyoming's elected officials are solidly Republican. That includes Dr. John Barasso from Casper. His is a case of a man who has worked for better rural health care long before he was selected to fill a seat left vacant by death. Here is a quote from his June 1 floor speech: