The Bad News? The Senate Finance Bill is Horrendous. The Good News? It's Not Even Close to Final
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It's not even close to the final bill.
I have written several times of the media's fixation with the bill that comes out of the Senate Finance Committee on health care. It's finally starting to move now, creaking its way up the track like a half-dead carcass. Traditional media will act like whatever is in the Senate Finance bill will be the bill, that the deal is done. Not even close, folks.
Here's why the Senate Finance markup that will come out next week is nowhere close to what will be in the final legislation:
1. Finance chair Max Baucus has already messed up by not consulting with a half-dozen of the more progressive members of the committee. I am hearing numerous reports, some of which have surfaced publicly, that some of them are rebelling at the awful piece of mangled legislation being thrust in front of them. Given that Snowe is the only Republican that there is even a ghost of a chance of voting for the bill, Baucus has to get all or at least most of the Democrats on board, and I believe if the committee progressives work together, they can force some changes for the better.
2. The bill that makes it out of Finance will be so convoluted, contradictory, distorted, held-together-with-duct-tape because of all the compromises Baucus is making that Democrats will have to remake it in later stages even if they don't want to- and a great many of them want to.
3. Harry Reid still needs to marry the Finance bill and the HELP committee bill. Tom Harkin, who took over the chairmanship of the HELP Committee after Ted Kennedy passed away, is from what I hear bound and determined to make a major push to have the language of the HELP bill be a major part of the package that goes to the floor, including on the big issues like the public option and affordability for the middle class. He is being supported not only by the Democratic members of his committee but by outside progressive forces.
Mike Lux is the founder of Progressive Strategies LLC and a director of the Center for Progressive Leadership, the Proteus Fund and the Arca Foundation.