The Spectacle Blog

Baucus’s Cornerstone

By on 9.29.09 | 3:40PM

"Rome wasn't built in a day," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said Tuesday afternoon. He made the statement over the course of arguing that he could not support the creation of a government-run plan, because it could not get 60 votes in the Senate.

"My top priority is getting this across the finish line," Baucus said.

He encouraged liberals to recognize that the important thing was to get something passed now, to lay a "cornerstone"  that could be built on. As a historical example, he noted that when Social Security was first passed Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 he argued that the legislation was just a start.

Now, if liberals refuse to back any proposal that does not include a government plan, Baucus said, they would fail to lay a cornerstone.

Thus Baucus unintentionally made the argument that conservatives have been trying to make repeatedly -- that is, what we have to consider is not only what is in legislation as it is currently written, but also the infastructure that it would put in place, allowing future lawmakers to expand the role of government further.

Even with the so-called "moderate" proposal of Sen. Baucus, we'll end up with a bill that significantly expands Medicaid, forces individuals to purchase insurance or pay a tax, makes people purchase government-designed insurance policies on a government-run exchange, and creates a new tax-exempt class of insurers that would have access to government money to finance start up costs. That's quite a cornerstone to build on.

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