"We Need More Police."
For years, I've always gotten ill when I heard the name of Max Baucus, the spectacularly corrupt senior senator from Montana. Baucus represents everything that is wrong with American politics, which is to say representing everything that is best for Corporate America, an entity that Gore Vidal once said is America's only political party. His very name makes me think of Baccus, the bloated, inebriated Greek god of wine.
After having silently followed his voting record for years, I've been meaning to take some seriously brutal body shots at this thoroughly rotten wad o' fuck for years. And his conduct at a Senate Finance Committee hearing regarding health care a few days ago had finally shattered my silence. It is health care and Baucus's mealy-mouthed sentiments about respecting all views with which I'll be taking exception today.
As one single payer advocate after another got up to remind Baucus that a national single payer plan is what we need, they were led out of the chamber by the Capitol Police. True, they were disrupting a Senate hearing and speaking out of turn. But why were they speaking out of turn? Because, among the 15 people sitting before the Committee to testify during this health care reform hearing, not a single one of them represented the voices calling for the single payer health care plan that virtually every economist says we need.
In fact, Baucus at one point joked, "We'll need more police." The people in the Senate chamber thought it was a fucking riot, as if the people being hustled out by the police were crazed loonies exposing their privates or drunken fans running onto a playing field during a baseball game. That's how entrenched the corruption is on Capitol Hill. It's part of the culture, it's policy, and any interruption of the greased wheels of corporate progress is risible at best, prosecutable and punishable at worst.
When Baucus' standup routine was over, he then piously said that all views will be respected and represented. Yet just last March, Baucus told the Helena Independent Record that single payer health care is "off the table."
In other words, Baucus' health care plan that he's been pushing since November (which sounds a lot like Obama's, in which a dysfunctional hybrid of private and public plans will be offered) is a mere reshuffling of the deck chairs, just a more creative way of keeping our money flowing into the pockets of unconscionable HMOs who really make their money by denying us health care. In short, business as usual. And business under Baucus will be always be mutually very good.
As Ezra Klein wrote in The New Prospect last November,
Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Staffers like to say that the committee is responsible for all the money the government raises and half of what it spends -- and that's not too far from the truth. It is the only Senate committee able to construct new funding streams, which gives it incredible authority over the country's social-policy architecture. It has control over taxes and trade, Social Security and Medicare, health reform and unemployment benefits. Even a carbon-pricing bill would probably need its sign-off.
It's the most open secret on the Hill that Max Baucus is in more pockets than lint. The old political canard of "Follow the money" is no better exemplified than in the career of the senior senator from Montana. As another Klein, this one Howie, wrote last November in "Can Max Baucus Be Trusted With Crafting Health Care Policy?",
Since 1990 HMOs have bribed members of Congress to the tune of a cool $59,090,991, the biggest year of all being... 2008 ($10,342,979). Not counting presidential candidates, the biggest recipient of their largesse is none other than Max Baucus... In the same period, Big Pharma ponied up $162,360,555. And in that period from 1990 the uber civic minded Insurance Industry showered members of Congress with $304,486,143 in bribes, $38,231,774 alone this year. Take out the defeated and the retired and the presidential candidates and Baucus was the 5th biggest recipient... Notice a pattern?
In other words, if you want a blueprint that'll predict how Baucus will vote on some issues, just follow this handy guide. Can Max Baucus be trusted with crafting health care policy? Surely, Howie Klein was asking a rhetorical question.
But the American public he pretends to represent aren't the only people who have been bullied by Baucus. He's also trying to strongarm the CBO (the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office) to laud his fiscally unsound health care proposal. Such a Mafia tactic is suspiciously reminiscent of the Bush administration twisting dicks and arms at NASA, the EPA, Langley and other organizations that couldn't be trusted to toe the dysfunctional Inner Party line.
Toward the end of his article, Ezra Klien wrote,
But some reformers remain skeptical about Baucus' commitment to the issue. "The thing you have to understand about Max Baucus," says one longtime observer, "is that he's a good guy. His heart really is in the right place. But the worry is that if health reform fails, he'll still be able to sleep at night."
I relay the concern to Baucus. "In life," he replies, "you try to be as effective as you possibly can be. Would I not sleep at night, having tried my hardest? I wouldn't that first night, but for how many nights after that, I just don't know."
Later in our interview, Baucus returns to the question, concerned that he didn't answer it fully. "Is it okay if we don't reform health care? It's not okay at all. But will I sleep at night?" And here, he laughs. "I mean, hell, I'm a pretty good sleeper."
Then he sobers up. "It's not okay, though."
You can complain to this bloated whore's office this way:
Senator Max Baucus
511 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-2651 (Office)
(202) 224-9412 (Fax)
Or email him here through this petition to ensure that it's still not OK to sleep too comfortably.