Refusing to take ‘yes’ for an answer

REFUSING TO TAKE ‘YES’ FOR AN ANSWER…. As months of negotiations dragged on, Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus (D-Mont.) took quite a few steps to shape a health care reform bill conservative Republicans could like. For some of us, he took too many steps, ended up with an inadequate bill, and has precious little to show for it.

McClatchy ran this piece from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Eric Pianin and Julie Appleby, who noted that Republicans have rejected a proposal filled with Republican ideas.

The Senate Finance Committee bill that Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., unveiled Wednesday contains several provisions that were inspired by Republicans, including testing new ways to handle medical malpractice cases, creating avenues for consumers to cross state lines to buy insurance and immediately launching a high-risk pool that would cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Moreover, the bill’s scope and cost have been whittled down. The Congressional Budget Office put the price tag at $774 billion over 10 years, less than other Democratic proposals that Republicans said were too expensive. Also, the plan doesn’t include a public insurance option, a proposal that President Barack Obama and liberal lawmakers favor but that most Republicans and many conservative and moderate Democrats reject.

Igor Volsky had a very good item raising a similar point yesterday.

For months, Republicans have complained that Democrats were pushing a partisan government-takeover of health care that would only add to the deficit and bankrupt the nation. They insisted that any health care reform bill must exclude a public option, allow Americans to purchase coverage across state lines, exclude funding for abortion and ensure that illegal immigrants are not eligible for coverage.

But once presented with legislation that met many of these demands, the GOP demurred, refusing to meet Baucus half-way.

Republicans asked for a proposal with no public option, interstate competition, high-risk pools, verification of citizenship, no public funds for abortion, and high-deductible policies. Baucus agreed to all of these demands and still couldn’t get a single Republican vote.

One hopes this makes clear to policymakers a truth that seemed obvious months ago: Republicans won’t take “yes” for an answer. They don’t support health care reform, they don’t want to negotiate in good faith, and they have absolutely no incentive to help Democrats succeed.