Liberal proponents of health care reform have worried for weeks that Senator Max Baucus, the moderate Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee that is charged with producing a bill, would produce nothing but disappointment. Now that Baucus has a proposal on the table, is it everything liberals feared? Or is it not so bad? Marcy Wheeler and Ezra Klein, both liberal bloggers who support reform, hash out how we should feel about the Baucus plan.

  • Klein: "The Baucus bill will have problems, but seriously: $900 billion to help low income folks afford health care. This is progress!"
  • Wheeler: "$900 billion with the requirement that the middle class pay up to $23,000 a year for insurance. Not progress--highway robbery!"
  • Klein: "Though it's less than one might hope, it's a lot more than many were beginning to fear."
  • Wheeler: Baucus' plan "defeats the entire purpose" of health reform. "We would end up/continue to spend more on health care than on federal taxes." She added, "Plus, you're asking upper middle class to pay 26% of costs for something that is 16% of GDP. Sounds like a surefire route to permanent GOP."
  • Klein: "The range of possibilities is now between the $900-or-so billion envisioned by Baucus and the $1.1 trillion envisioned by the House plan. That cements a consensus in advance of the president's speech laying out the White House's plan: Obama, after all, can hardly emerge with a stingier proposal than Baucus has offered."
  • Wheeler: This is "an attempt to turn the middle class into serfs to the health care industry," she wrote. "Bad Max is asking middle class families to pay more for health care than they pay in federal taxes." Wheeler crunched the numbers on Baucus' plan, predicting that middle class families could pay up to 31% of their income in health care costs."
  • Klein: "The hope is that Baucus's bill looks better after it's amended by the other Democrats on the Finance Committee, merged with the more generous HELP Committee bill, and then tweaked on the Senate floor by the Democrats left out of both processes. But the fact that we're talking about $900 billion as opposed to $700 billion means we're in a much better place than we could have been."
  • Wheeler: "Bad Max's health care 'reform' would basically institutionalize a condition in which the middle class continues to fall further and further behind, paying far too much for health care and/or avoiding necessary treatment. It would keep the middle class drowning under debt. It would continue to force the middle class to choose between health care and things like college or fixing the roof on their house. It would all but ensure that we never recover from Bush's depression. Unless, of course, we were one of Bad Max's donors."