Pearlstein on the Baucus Bill
September 28, 2009 Leave a comment
The Washington Post's Stephen Pearlstein really likes the Baucus bill for the same reasons I do:
My hat is off to Max Baucus. He's produced a credible plan to make
health care both a right and a responsibility of all Americans while
beginning to rein in health spending in a way that is politically
acceptable to a majority of Americans. In many ways it is the most
robust proposal so far because of its emphasis on changing the way
health care is organized, delivered and paid for. The chairman of the
Senate Finance Committee has put the reform back in health reform.
He also does a great job of calling the Republicans on their breathtaking irresponsibility and hypocrisy:
During the first two days of committee action on his bill, Baucus, a
Democrat from Montana, beat back repeated attempts by most of the
committee's Republicans to gut provisions that would slow runaway
growth in Medicare spending. Republicans want us to believe that they
care deeply about the federal deficit and about keeping Medicare from
going broke, while at the same time demanding that there should be no
cuts in benefits, no cuts in payments to insurers or providers, and no
reduction in the utilization of medical services. It was the most
craven, cynical, hypocritical performance by a group of elected
officials that I can remember, and a good measure of the political,
intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Republican leadership in
The rest is good, too, about the importance of the exchanges and opening them up more widely, but I really wanted to get those first two points out.
TNR's Jonathan Cohn also puts this in the context of the Republican attempts to fund tax cuts out of Medicare cuts back in the 1990's:
Remember, this is the same party that promoted much larger, less
targeted cuts to Medicare in the 1990s–and did so not to shore up the
program or expand health insurance for working-age Americans, but to
create room for tax cuts that primarily benefited the wealthy.
So, just to review:
Modest Medicare cuts to make the program more efficient and help working-age people get insurance…bad.
Much larger Medicare cuts to give rich people get tax cuts…good.
And to think Americans still don't trust the GOP on health care.
I would never be so foolish as to claim that the Democrats are not guilty of the sort of hypocrisy Republicans are. Yet, I truly believe if you put hypocrisy on an empirical scale, Congressional Republicans would be in a class by themselves. Maybe I should create a hypocrisy scale for my next research project.