Are Democrats Ready to Make a Stand?
April 05, 2011
The Ryan budget represents nothing less than a wholesale assault on the welfare state, obliterating the Affordable Care Act while breaking the fundamental promises of Medicare and Medicaid. Are Democrats going to realize that? Will they say so? At least one prominent Democrat, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, seems up for it: Independent experts agree the House Plan would make deep cuts to the Medicare benefits seniors count on. It would end Medicare as we know it and funnel Medicare dollars directly into private insurance companies’ pockets.
Baucus-Bashing, Outsourced Edition
December 10, 2010
Lambasting Max Baucus is one of TNR traditions I most cherish, but it's been a while since we've indulged in it, and it's nice to see Steven Pearlstein thwack around the feckless Senate Finanxce Commitee Chairman today: For my money, there's no better example of the failure of the Democratic leadership than the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus - and, in particular, his performance on the president's deficit-reduction commission. It's a mystery that Max was appointed to the panel in the first place, given that he had led the fight against its creation.
You Thought Passing Health Reform Was Hard? Try Repealing It.
December 02, 2010
My latest column for Kaiser Health News: Critics of health care reform this week thought they would get their first win in the campaign to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Instead they got a lesson in just how politically challenging a wholesale repeal might be. At issue was an obscure, but unpopular, provision within the new health law that requires businesses to file 1099 tax forms anytime they purchase goods or services worth more than $600. The idea is to collect income taxes from the vendors producing those goods and services -- taxes many vendors avoid paying now.
Max Baucus, Strategic Genius
November 15, 2010
If there's one clear and unequivocal thing the Democrats did wrong in the last session, it was letting the health care debate consume virtually all the Congressional term. The longer and more acrimonious the debate, the more the process itself colored perceptions of the bill, and the more it fed the perception that Democrats were ignoring the economy. They could have passed the exact same bill in early fall, sparing themselves months of process stories and Cornhusker Kickback angst, and then tried to build support for some kind of temporary tax cut or another economic measure.
Democrat Self-Destruct Sequence, 5, 4, 3, 2...
July 28, 2010
First the good news: Via The Hill, Democratic leaders are thinking seriously about reforming the filibuster: Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate are pushing for filibuster reform at the start of the new Congress next year. And now the bad news: Five Senate Democrats have said they will not support a lowering of the 60-vote bar necessary to pass legislation. Another four lawmakers say they are wary about such a change and would be hesitant to support it.
What Makes Elena Kagan Tick?
June 04, 2010
People who complain about Max Baucus seem to forget that not so long ago the likes of James Inhofe chaired Senate committees. And if you worked in a Democratic administration, those folks made your job a tough slog. Back in the Clinton White House, I was a middling staffer on the Domestic Policy Council, working on issues ranging from the adoption tax credit to media violence and its effect on children. One of my bosses, as it happens, was Elena Kagan.
How They Did It (Part Five)
May 26, 2010
This is the final installment of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. (Click here to read parts one, two, three, and four. And click here to subscribe to TNR.) Mass. Panic Nancy Pelosi was in the Old Executive Office Building when one of her advisers gave her a message: Obama wanted her next door, in the White House. Martha Coakley was about to lose the election for Ted Kennedy’s old seat and, with it, the Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority. Obama had summoned Harry Reid, too, and together they discussed options.
How They Did It (Part Three)
May 24, 2010
This is the third of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. (Click here to read parts one and two.) Be sure to come back tomorrow for the fourth installment, which reveals how Obama saved the House bill and what Olympia Snowe really wanted until the very end. House Money It was Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who had tried to get tough with the manufacturers of biological drugs.
How They Did It (Part Two)
May 21, 2010
This is the second of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. (Click here to read part one.) Be sure to come back Monday for the third installment, which examines just how nasty negotiations got in Congress—bruised egos, threatened careers, the works. Workhorses It was an intimate gathering at Ted Kennedy’s home in Washington—just the senator, his colleague Max Baucus, and three senior staffers who worked with them on health care.
How They Did It
May 21, 2010
When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it. Unemployment was on the march, and all this talk about preexisting conditions and insurance exchanges barely registered above the Fox News pundits screaming, “Death panel!” Suddenly, health care reform was under attack everywhere—even in the West Wing. All week, the group had debated whether to scale back the reform effort.