The fate of the health care overhaul largely rests on the shoulders of six senators who since June 17 have gathered "" often twice a day, and for many hours at a stretch "" in a conference room with burnt sienna walls, in the office of the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana.- Advertisement -
President Obama and Congressional leaders agree that if a bipartisan deal can be forged on health care, it will emerge from this conference room, with a huge map of Montana on one wall and photos of Mike Mansfield, the Montanan who was the longest-serving Senate majority leader, on the other.
The battle over health care is all but paralyzed as everyone awaits the outcome of their talks.
Why this little scenario needs to change, right now:
Already, the group of six has tossed aside the idea of a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers, which the president supports but Republicans said was a deal-breaker.
Instead, they are proposing a network of private, nonprofit cooperatives.
They have also dismissed the House Democratic plan to pay for the bill's roughly $1 trillion, 10-year cost partly with an income surtax on high earners.
The three Republicans have insisted that any new taxes come from within the health care arena. As one option, Democrats have proposed taxing high-end insurance plans with values exceeding $25,000.
The Senate group also seems prepared to drop a requirement, included in other versions of the legislation, that employers offer coverage to their workers. "
"In the House, centrist Democrats have temporarily stalled the health care bill, many lawmakers want to see what Mr. Baucus's group produces before voting on tax increases in the House bill.- Advertisement -
I read this first thing this morning, and I cannot tell you how sick I feel. That the lives of Americans rest with this corrupt little crew "" at least some of them are essentially sponsored by Big Pharma and other parts of the medical-industrial complex, who are major campaign contributors "" is beyond outrageous. It is the utter failure of American democracy in microcosm.
My favorite quote:
"If this is the only bill with bipartisan support," Ms. Snowe said, "that will really resonate. It could be the linchpin for broad bipartisan agreement."