Can Baucus Be Fixed? Wyden’s Take

Sep 16, 2009 7:10pm

With Wyden, Rockefeller and Bill Nelson all raising objections (and Snowe still holding out), the Baucus bill can’t get out of the Finance Committee. It will have an even tougher time on the Senate floor.

The big question: can Democratic concerns — especially about affordability — be met without sacrificing the deficit-neutrality that Baucus achieved?

Ron Wyden just told me that he told the President “I’m gettable but not there yet”.  When the Finance Committee meets next week, he’ll offer amendments to match the principles he laid out in the bipartisan bill he negotiated with Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), who joined him in the Oval Office with Obama.

That would mean opening up the insurance exchange to make it more “market-oriented” and give consumers more choices. It also means plussing up the subsidies to make that insurance more affordable for families making 75-100K.

Wyden’s hoping the Finance Committee mark-up will mean a second lease on life for his bipartisan approach. While Wyden wouldn’t disclose what President Obama said about his approach, he said that the President is now fully aware of what he’s trying to do.

Wyden’s also expecting a “pretty rollicking” meeting when Senate Dems caucus behind closed doors tomorrow.

Talk about understatement.

Watch my World News conversation with Charlie Gibson here.

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