July 28, 2009

See, here's the thing about the very concept of "bipartisan" compromise: The only Republican officials left are from the far fringe of their party. So you really can't negotiate with them in any meaningful sense - you can only capitulate.

And that's pretty much what the members of Max Baucus's little private party have done. They've stripped anything resembling real competition from their secret healthcare proposal. I wonder why Republicans are running this process? (And please note: not one member of this cabal is a progressive, nor from an urban area. Not quite representative of the rest of us, wouldn't you say?)

This would be a very good day to flood the offices of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Sens. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, the Democrats slicing and dicing away our future, with PHONE CALLS (not emails) telling them you want a strong public option - unlike President Obama, apparently.

WASHINGTON – After weeks of secretive talks, a bipartisan group in the Senate edged closer Monday to a health care compromise that omits a requirement for businesses to offer coverage to their workers and lacks a government insurance option that President Barack Obama favors, according to numerous officials.

Like bills drafted by Democrats, the proposal under discussion by six members on the Senate Finance Committee would bar insurance companies from denying coverage to any applicant. Nor could insurers charge higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.

But it jettisons other core Democratic provisions in a reach for bipartisanship on an issue that has so far produced little.

[...] In the Senate, officials stressed that no agreement has been reached on a bipartisan measure, and said there is no guarantee of one. They also warned that numerous key issues remain to be settled, including several options to pay for the legislation. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss matters under private negotiations.

They said any legislation that emerges from the talks is expected to provide for a non-profit cooperative to sell insurance in competition with private industry, rather than giving the federal government a role in the marketplace. The White House and numerous Democrats in Congress have called for a government option to provide competition to private companies and hold down costs.

[...] The senators involved in the negotiations are all members of the Senate Finance Committee, and include Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairman, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the senior Republican. Others participating are Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, and Republicans Olympia Snowe of Maine and Mike Enzi of Wyoming.

But here's the real money quote:

Individuals would have a mandate to buy affordable insurance, but companies would not have a requirement to offer it.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is why we voted for Democrats - so we could hand over our fate yet again to the Republicans. Let them know what you think.

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