Mike Enzi, Chutzpah King

MIKE ENZI, CHUTZPAH KING…. Reports vary as to just how close the Senate Finance Committee’s gang of six is to some kind of deal. I’m sure they’ll get back to us at some point in the future.

More interesting, though, was a statement issued by Mike Enzi, the conservative Wyoming Republican who is participating in the six-member negotiations. After explaining that the Finance Committee still has a ways to go, Enzi explained his expectations about the future of the process.

Enzi said that Reid and Pelosi would have to commit to leaving any bipartisan agreements in place once the bill goes to conference.

“I also need commitments from Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi, as well as the Administration, that the bipartisan agreements reached in the Finance Committee will survive in a final bill that goes to the president,” Enzi added.

Well, I’ll gladly give Enzi credit for having chutzpah. But as a serious proposition, this is almost comical.

Look, five committees in two chambers are trying to pass health care reform. Each understands that after approving a bill, their committee’s work will have to be reconciled with other committees’ work, before eventually reconciling the House and Senate versions.

Enzi is saying that this isn’t good enough. This conservative Republican “needs” a “commitment” from the Democratic White House, the Democratic House Speaker, and the Democratic Senate Majority Leader that all of them will leave intact the work he and five other senators worked out in secret. No changes allowed.

Perhaps Enzi is taking advantage of some kind of prescription drug benefit already, because only someone who’s heavily medicated would think this makes sense.

Enzi’s little club features just six senators — no liberals, no senators representing urban areas — who represent less than 3% of the U.S. population. The gang has already abandoned key policy priorities of the president, the majority party, and the public, and is putting the finishing work on an inadequate piece of legislation.

And Enzi expects — indeed, he demands — that no one touch his group’s work once it’s complete? Please.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.