Policy-ish

Day 1 Recap Of Baucus Bill Markup

We watched the Senate Finance Committee's jawboning on the Baucus health bill yesterday, but have to admit that our usual media multitasking meant we mostly heard five-minute snippets here and there.

Sen. Max Baucus, flanked by senators from both parties, leads the discussion of his health overhaul i

Sen. Max Baucus, flanked by senators from both parties, leads the discussion of his health overhaul proposal. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Sen. Max Baucus, flanked by senators from both parties, leads the discussion of his health overhaul

Sen. Max Baucus, flanked by senators from both parties, leads the discussion of his health overhaul proposal.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

NPR's David Welna has a longer attention span and filed a report for All Things Considered late Tuesday that helped us catch up on what we missed. First, the Republicans didn't surprise anyone by rushing to get on board.

Despite months of courting by Chairman Max Baucus and a reduction in the bill's expense, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa blasted the legislation as too costly, "There's no plausible rationale for imposing all these new taxes and big spending on top of an economy that's doing its best right now to recover."

Most of the day Grassley, who faces a tough campaign for reelection, "kept his head down" and read his Kindle and news clippings, the New York Times reported in a profile on the senator. Grassley has lurched to the right in recent months to shore up his Republican base, confounding Democrats who thought he might be a partner in the health overhaul.

On the bright side for Baucus, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe sounded like the most likely Republican to join, calling his proposal, "a solid starting point."

The Baucus bill, a compromise by design, aggravated some Democratic senators. West Virginia's Jay Rockefeller kept fighting for a public option, saying the health co-ops Baucus aren't a workable solution.

Still, the Washington Post's Alec MacGillis, who live-blogged the markup, wrote yesterday that "it does appear from watching Jay Rockefeller speak just now that the rift that opened up between him and other more liberal Democrats on the one hand and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus on the other has closed a bit."

Ramsey Baghdadi, managing editor of the trade pub the RPM Report, gets our Ironman Award for tweeting on the markup long into the night. Among the tidbits from the after-dinner session: Rockefeller criticized the administration's deal to win the support of the pharmaceutical industry without plugging the hole in the Medicare drug benefit.

Baghdadi tweeted:

Closing donut hole vs. Cutting it in half will be fight to death in conference.

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