Sunday, October 25, 2009

Max Baucus Facing His Public Option Moment

Sen. Max Baucus has reiterated he supports the public option. In the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus said he voted against Sen. Chuck Schumer's public option amendment because there wasn't enough votes in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid believes there are 60 votes to stop a Republican filibuster of the public option. Reid would only need 51 votes to pass a public option health care bill. ABC News reports Baucus got wind of Reid's plan and went ballistic.

This is not a done deal. I am told that Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) – who worked for months to get Olympia Snowe’s support for the bill and has consistently said a public option cannot pass the Senate – was apoplectic when Reid told him he wanted to include the public option. “Baucus went to DEFCON 1,” said a source familiar with the negotiations, referring to the alert level the military uses for an imminent attack on the homeland.

Baucus has publicly said he supports a public option. Baucus's actions has been to prevent the public option from being implemented in the final bill. The questions are will Baucus join a Republican filibuster or vote against the public option. The media should ask Baucus will he vote for a health care bill with the public option. Baucus should also be asked about the million dollars, in campaign contributions, from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. I am interested in Baucus's response.

Baucus is behaving as someone terrified about having to vote for or against the public option. Stripping the public option relieves Baucus of that choice. If Baucus votes against a final public option health care bill, he will anger the base and be viewed as a shrill for lobbyists.

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