Maybe It’s Max Baucus Who Is Playing Us

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

After lots of noise in recent days that the Senate Finance Committee might be nearing a final, bipartisan deal on a bill, CNN reports the (gasp!) shocking news that Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) think that the bill is “not ready for prime time” and couldn’t possibly be voted on before the August recess.

A Daily Kos diarist suggests that this is a sign that committee chair Max Baucus, who has supposedly been trying to get Enzi and Grassley on board, “got played” by the Republicans, who never intended to allow a vote before recess (or perhaps ever).

But why does it have to be that Baucus “got played”? Max Baucus is a smart guy, and he’s been supposedly working on this for months and months. He has repeatedly promised bills and repeatedly broken his own deadlines. At what point do we have to start assuming that it’s Baucus who is acting in bad faith? Max Baucus runs the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate Finance Committee has repeatedly failed to produce a health care bill. If a bill is delayed long enough, health care reform could fail entirely.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one. Maybe Max Baucus just doesn’t think health care reform should happen.

Does anyone think that the Republicans are going to end up voting for the health care bill on the floor anyway? News flash: unless a bill is produced that magically becomes wildly popular, they’re not going to vote for it. They’re going to vote against it and use it as a wedge issue. That’s politics. Max Baucus is not so stupid that he does not see this. He must know that the GOP is probably not negotiating in good faith. So don’t you have to conclude that he just isn’t that interested in health care reform? There are plenty of reasons to believe that’s what’s really going on: Baucus takes huge amounts of money from the health care industry. And even if that’s not a problem, this probably is.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend