It's good that I'm not a reporter anymore. I had this unfortunate habit of telling politicians what I thought of their policies (I once asked one, "How do you look at yourself in the mirror?"), and we know that sort of behavior just wouldn't help me get ahead in the Beltway media bubble.
Instead, I get to tell the world what I think of Max Baucus: that he's an amoral ass, someone who's more interested in successful horse-trading over a bill than actually achieving the goal of insuring people who genuinely need help:
A group of key Senate negotiators has found a way to further reduce the price tag of the health care reform bill, bringing it in line with a $1 trillion target and moving the Senate Finance Committee closer to a deal, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Thursday.
"We have options that would enable us to write a $1 trillion bill fully paid for," Baucus said.
But the bipartisan group of Senate negotiators issued a statement saying they were moving ahead. It was meant to signal that, despite the slow going and the many issues that have yet to be resolved, they intend to reach a compromise.
"As we have been for the last several weeks, we are committed to continuing our work toward a bipartisan bill that will lower costs and ensure quality, affordable care for every American," the group said.
Well, no. Not every American. But really, they figured out something that's so cool, you won't believe it!
[...] The cost became the top concern of Finance Committee senators after they received an estimate last week from the Congressional Budget Office claiming that an early version of the bill would top $1.6 trillion, or $600 billion more than expected.
The senators said they found $400 billion in savings earlier this week, largely by reducing the amount of subsidies for low-income individuals to buy insurance.
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said they found much of the additional $200 billion in savings by further adjusting the level of subsidies. It is unclear, however, whether they would reduce the amount of each subsidy or lower the income level at which people become eligible.
Now, how clever is that? The way to solve the problem is to make sure that the poorest Americans have to cough up more money. In other words, the law will require them to be insured - but they won't be able to afford it. Problem solved!
"It is now a process of determining where does the support lie for which of these options that are chosen," Conrad said. "This is very substantial movement, very significant progress and very encouraging. Everybody who heard these numbers this morning had smiles on their faces, I can tell you that."
Must. Go. Bang. Head. On. Wall...