Now the only hope of reason from the R side of the Baucus cabal has turned into a real Republican. Olympia Snowe:
Mitchell: So bottom lines, Nancy Pelosi says that they will not produce anything that does not include a public option. Do you see any way that the gang of six will come out of the Finance Committee with a public option?
Snowe: No, I don't. We have not had the public option on the table. It's been co ops and addressing affordability and availability and plans through the exchange and those are the challenges we're wrestling with to insure that there are basic plans to offer Americans.
Meanwhile, Think Progress picks up an interview Baucus gave to the Helena Independent Record, admitting that the Republican leadership's goal is killing healthcare reform.
In a 50-minute interview with the Independent Record’s editorial board, Baucus defended his huddling with just two other Democrats along with three Republican senators to hammer out a health reform package, at a time when his party controls the White House, the House of Representatives and has a 60-vote majority in the Senate....
While three health care reform bills have passed various House committees, all eyes are on the Senate Finance Committee, which Baucus chairs. Baucus has chosen to work most closely with fellow Democrats Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, along with Republicans Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Olympia Snow (Maine) and Mike Enzi (Wyoming).
Baucus said the three areas of reform the panel is focused on are reining in costs across the industry, reforming the insurance market and bringing coverage to as many Americans as possible.
Under pressure in Iowa, Grassley told the Washington Post Thursday that Congress should scale back its efforts to overhaul health care in the wake of intense anger at town hall meetings across the country. Baucus acknowledged the pressure Grassley is under, along with Snow and Enzi.
“The Republican leadership in the Senate and in the House is doing its utmost to kill this bill,” he said. “They are putting intense political pressure on Chuck Grassley, Olympia Snow [sic] and Mike Enzi, to bow out, because they want to kill it. So I’ve got a challenge ahead of me to work out all this on policy as we go through these meetings.
“The other thing is the politics of it: ‘People, this is the right thing to do for America. I know you’re under intense political pressure, but do the right thing. I know it’s easy for me to say right now, because I’m getting beat up by both sides, but not nearly as much as you are by the Republican hierarchy.’ ”
I wonder who Grassley, Snowe, and Enzi are listening to, Baucus or Jon Kyl when they're 80 votes as the threshhold for a bipartisan vote on this in the Senate. Ah, Max.
No wonder his viewed so dismally back home. But he has a message for Montanans who might rightly think that he's more concerned with representing the industries that bought his seat:
In the past six years, Baucus and his political action committee have raised some $3.4 million in campaign money from health and insurance industry interests. He adamantly insisted Thursday that those donations, roughly a quarter of all his campaign money in that time, have not colored his views on health care reform.
“I resent any implication that any of my actions or decisions are a result of campaign contributions,” he said. “I resent that, because that is totally not accurate. I do what I think is right, period.”
Kudos to the paper's editorial board for pushing him on the issue, one that's not going to be going away for him after the debacle his "leadership" on this issue has become. At the rate Baucus is going, that's going to be his legacy back home instead of being the guy who delivered the nation healthcare reform. He's going to be the most bought Senator the state has ever had.