Liberal Democrats after Baucus over public insurance option
Senator Max Baucus is taking a bashing from liberal Democrats for leaving public insurance out of the Senate Finance Committee’s healthcare reform bill.
With the committee chaired by Baucus headed for a showdown on the issue Tuesday, a new ad taken out by the liberal wing of his own Democratic party notes he took millions in contributions from the health and insurance industries and asks: “Whose side are you on?”
Baucus is a target because he kept a public option out of his healthcare bill in order to try to fashion a measure that could win both Republican and Democratic support.
President Barack Obama favors a public option. Under the system he proposes, people who do not get health insurance through their employer could go to a government-sponsored marketplace to buy insurance.
The marketplace would be comprised mainly of private insurers, but Obama also favors a public option to make sure there is enough competition to push down prices.
Republicans firmly oppose a public insurance option, arguing it will ultimately drive private firms out of business and lead to a government takeover of the $2.5 trillion health system.
The Senate Finance Committee Tuesday will debate amendments that would put a public insurance option into the Baucus bill.
Baucus’ efforts to win bipartisan support have gained little ground so far. Even the Republicans that negotiated for months with him have not yet committed to endorsing the final bill.
Republicans are using the healthcare issue to try out new attack lines.
The Republican National Committee circulated a new Web ad Monday charging Obama and the Democrats will impose seven different kinds of taxes to pay for healthcare reform.
A survey by Rasmussen Reports Monday found support for Obama’s plan still slipping. Just 41 percent of voters nationwide favored it, while 56 percent opposed.