Friday, 21 August 2009

Baucus gets sucked into Grassley's "go slow" strategy

From the Washington Post:

Senate health-care negotiators agreed late Thursday to ignore the increasingly strident rhetoric from Republican and Democratic leaders and to keep working toward a bill that can win broad support from the rank-and-file in both parties, according to sources familiar with the talks.
In a conference call, the three Democratic and three Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee agreed to redouble their efforts to craft a less costly alternative to the trillion-dollar initiatives so far put forward in Congress. They discussed the possibility of also reining in the scope of their package, the sources said. The senators rejected the idea of imposing a deadline on their negotiations, and they agreed to talk again Sept. 4 -- four days before lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington from their August break. The consensus, one participant said, was "to take your time to get it right." In a written statement released after the approximately 90-minute teleconference, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the finance panel, said the group had "a productive conversation" and that they "remain committed to continuing our path toward a bipartisan health-care reform bill." "Our discussion included an increased emphasis on affordability and reducing costs, and our efforts moving forward will reflect that focus," he said.
Before leaving for the month-long recess, Baucus had pegged the cost of the negotiators' ideas at less than $900 billion over the next decade. Thursday's discussions focused on driving that cost lower, the sources said.

The problem: the Democrats will probably need to use the reconciliation route to get a reform bill passed, and the deadline is October 15. Baucus is giving Grassley the tool he needs to kill ALL reform.

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