It is 10:00 p.m. Do you know where your congressmen are?

Obama's got a point:
"If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best-quality health care, if they tell us that they’re offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can’t run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business?"

So then, who is afraid of the public option?

Not the people; not according to this New York Times - CBS News poll:

So who is it exactly that our representatives are representing in Congress?

I am wondering what the Democrats have to say?

Ah! don't look now but here is one, just walking in.

(Hushed voice.) This is Max Sieben Baucus, a Democrat and the senior Senator from Montana.

He is the current chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Finance and a central figure in the current policy debates over health care reform---which includes his opposition to HR 676.

What is he up to?

(Whispering.) Let's not disturb him. Maybe we can find more online about him.

(Excitedly.) Ah, here it is:

Ain't Wikipedia great?
Senate finance committee

Recently Baucus, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, caused controversy when calling the first Senate meeting of interested parties before the committee to discuss health care reform, which included representatives from pharmaceutical groups, insurance companies, and HMOs and hospital management companies, but did not include representatives from groups calling for single-payer health care which is the reform idea that has the most support amongst medical doctors[18], nurses, and the population at large. Advocate groups attended the hearing to protest their exclusion as well as statements by Baucus that "single payer was not an option on the table." Baucus later had eight protesters (among them physicians and nurses), removed by police who arrested them for disrupting the hearing. Many of the single-payer advocates claimed it was a "pay to play" event. At the next meeting on health care reform of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus had five more doctors and nurses removed and arrested.

Opposition to single payer health care

Baucus has used the term "uniquely American solution" to describe the end point of current health reform and has said that he believes America is not ready yet for any form of single payer health care. This is the same term the insurance trade association, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), is using. AHIP has launched the Campaign for an American Solution, which argues for the use of private health insurance instead of a government backed program. It has been pointed out that America already has a "uniquely American solution" that is a single payer health care system, it is Medicare.

Conflict of interest perceptions

Some have pointed out that Baucus has been one of the biggest Senate beneficiaries of campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries. From 2003 to 2008, Baucus received about $3 million from the health sector, including $852,813 from pharmaceutical companies, $851,141 from health professionals, $784,185 from the insurance industry and $465,750 from HMOs/health services, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The only senators who received more campaign contributions from the health sector than he did in that period were three major Presidential contenders during the same period, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Baucus tops the list of recipients from business PACs. A 2006 study by Public Citizen found that between 1999 and 2005 Baucus, along with former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, took in the most special-interest money of any senator.

Only three senators have more former staffers working as lobbyists on K Street, at least two dozen in Baucus's case. Several of Baucus' ex-staffers with whom he is still close, among them, former chief of staff David Castagnetti, are now working for the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries. Castagnetti co-founded the lobbying firm of Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, which represents "America’s Health Insurance Plans Inc.," the national trade group of health insurance companies, the Medicare Cost Contractors Alliance, as well as Amgen, AstraZeneca PLC and Merck & Co. Another former chief of staff, Jeff Forbes, went on to open his own lobbying shop and to represent the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the Advanced Medical Technology Association, among other groups.

Commentator Ed Schultz stated on his MSNBC TV show that Baucus has received "more money from pharmaceutical companies and insurance industry folks than any other Democrat in the Congress. Baucus got $183,000 from health insurance companies and $229,900 from drug companies", and contrasting the presence of representatives from these groups with the absence of representatives from Single payer advocates he added wryly "May I remind you, they were at the table."

Tax policy

Baucus voted for the Bush tax cuts in 2001. He has usually voted against repealing portions of that bill and against repealing more recent tax cut bills that benefit upper income taxpayers. In 2008, he voted in favor of permanently repealing the estate tax.

Tort reform

He was one of 26 senators to vote against the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005


  1. Ah, yes, don't you love it?

    Government is wasteful and expensive, and does nothing well the rightwing mantra goes. Bald faced Republicans in Congress repeat it even today.

    But we can't allow government to compete with the private insurance companies because the American people might get a better deal and leave the private insurance companies.

    So for whom does our healthcare needs exist?


    For the private insurance companies. Our health is a mere commodity for them to exploit to make money and ever larger profits from.

    So remember, boys and girls, stay healthy. You wouldn't want your insurance company to ever have to shell out any money would you? Why that would just be obscene......

  2. Yes, old Max has been in the pockets of big corporate America a long time. Even if he is only from little Montana.

  3. An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.

    : T.S. Eliot

    To one that advised him to set up a democracy in Sparta, "Pray," said Lycurgus, "do you first set a democracy in your own house."

    : Lycurgus - Source: in Plutarch's "Apophthegms of Kings and Great Commanders"

    Our real enemies are the people who make us feel so good that we are slowly, but inexorably, pulled down into the quicksand of smugness and self-satisfaction.

    : Sydney Harris


  4. Cool quotes Jazzolog. I love the Eliot line. It has a certain and contemporary truth to it....

  5. MadMike's take on delays in cause of Michael Jackson's death is worth taking a look at. As with so many recent mysteries among the famous, first we shock, then we grieve...then we find out.

  6. Did that staunch Royalist T. S. Eliot really say that? It doesn't sound like his voice. Too light and whimsical. Maybe he said it after a night at the Wulfshead?

    And speaking of the unremitting shallowness of our mass media, it has been almost non stop Michael Jackson for the past three days on cable TV. (I don't dare turn on the news today.)

    While the story is certainly news, does it merit nonstop coverage? Awaiting breathlessly the next comment from a deputy sheriff, coroner, family member, or fan? As if nothing else in the world is taking place?

    Read this, or just glance at the headline......\oom-iran/

    And like the blind leading the blind the networks stumble over each other as to who can get in deeper into Michael's Jackson's life and death.

    (And to think, the media barely mentioned John Updike's death last January.)

  7. Just peeked at MadMike's site. Pretty garsh darn good.

  8. Here more on this.... Joe Conason

  9. T.S. Eliot is credited with the quote all over the Internet---but I have yet to see a source cited. On the other hand, it also is credited to GEORGE Eliot. There a source is given as Felix Holt, the Radical, chapter 5, p. 63.