On the day Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is set to unveil his committee's health-care bill, he pens an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal laying out why he believes reform is necessary and what is in the bill. "Health care is a complicated and deeply personal issue; it takes time and effort to get reform right. Legislating every piece of this puzzle would be impossible and counterproductive. What we can do is seize this opportunity to put America back on a fiscally sustainable path. The Senate Finance Committee proposal builds on what already works and fixes what threatens to break the bank for future generations."
He laments misinformation and writes, "[O]ur plan pays for every cent of new spending without using additional tax dollars. Our plan would lower costs and would not add to the federal deficit. In fact, it would begin reducing the federal deficit within 10 years by containing costs through industry reforms." He concludes: "The time has come for action. And we will act. In the next several weeks, the Senate Finance Committee will do its part to control costs, protect consumers from unfair insurance industry practices, and put America back on a path toward fiscal sustainability."
The AP: "[D]espite numerous gestures to Republicans, Baucus has fallen short in his quest to assemble a coalition of senators from both parties behind his proposal."
Is Snowe not supporting it, either? The Hill writes, "Senate Democrats are going to have to move forward on healthcare without a single Republican supporter after Sen. Olympia Snowe said Tuesday she could not back the Finance Committee's bill." Said Snowe: "I do have concerns and I'm not sure they can be addressed before he issues [legislation] tomorrow."
"Sen. Max Baucus, a leader in the troubled effort in Congress to write a health care overhaul bill, has received more campaign donations from the health industry than any elected federal official except President Barack Obama and three other senators."
"President Barack Obama's speech to Congress last week galvanized House Democrats to help him push through his health care plan -- but lawmakers and their aides say it is increasingly clear the president also left some wounds festering and caused new ones to open," Roll Call writes. "While Democratic sources say lawmakers are generally pleased with the speech, which they believe boosted morale and possibly public support, they say the president created some new difficulties. Though the address was billed as an effort to provide clarity about Obama's position, Democrats say that on some issues it has created new confusion."
Race and Joe Wilson: "Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) ripped Wilson as having 'winked' at a racist element, which had appeared at town halls over the August recess opposing the president. 'There is no question when you look at the banners and posters and some of the comments that are made there is a fringe element that feels racial hatred toward African-Americans and that vein has been opened up for public display, and I don't think there should be many Republicans who would sanction that kind of excessive, radical, almost anarchist type of mentality,' Johnson told reporters. Wilson 'did not help the cause of diversity and tolerance with his remarks. If I were a betting man I would say that he instigated more racist sentiment, feeling that it's okay. You don't need to bury it now… I guess we'll probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again riding through the countryside intimidating people. That's the logical conclusion if this kind of attitude is not rebuked and Congressman Wilson represents… That's why I support the resolution.'"
When asked by one of us at First Read yesterday outside his office what role has race played in this controversy, Wilson dismissed it. "That's a distraction," he said before heading into his office.
Politics, ain't it grand? "More than two dozen members of Congress are paying family members thousands of dollars to work for their campaigns, according to a review of documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Although the practice is legal, it raises eyebrows among ethics watchdogs, who say it smacks of nepotism."