Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Healthcare, anger and race

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is due to release a proposal Wednesday for reforming the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system, giving a boost to President Barack Obama’s top domestic policy goal.

Or maybe not.

USA/Baucus has been working with two fellow Democrats and three Republicans — the so-called Gang of Six– to produce a bipartisan healthcare compromise. None of the other healthcare reform bills introduced so far have had Republican support.

The question is whether the Baucus effort will win over some Republicans. So far even the Republicans negotiating with him have shied away from pledging to vote for the measure.

Opposition to healthcare reform, and other government initiatives, has become increasingly bitter in recent months.

Town hall meetings produced outpourings of anger. Representative Joe Wilson shouted “You lie” at Obama as he addressed a joint session of Congress. The president’s decision to speak to students on the first day of school prompted some to keep their children home.

The First Draft: Trying again on healthcare

USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMASenate Democrats will take up healthcare again today after a tough week.

Republican opposition is building after independent auditors estimated their initial efforts could cost more and cover fewer than initially hoped, reducing the chance of winning the bipartisan support that could ensure that any reforms will last.

Republican Sen. John McCain gave Reuters a grim prognosis last Friday and said the next few days will determine whether the effort succeeds or fails.

But Democratic Sen. Max Baucus still thinks he can get a bipartisan bill to President Obama by the end of the year.