Baucus isn’t the only pol serving up tea leaves. I was thoroughly confused by a comment from Rep. Pete Stark of California, who chairs a crucial health subcommittee. A few weeks ago, when the House voted to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the San Francisco Chronicle said that “Stark predicted the reform legislation would be enacted by September, despite up-front costs that could be as high as $150 billion a year.” But wait a minute. Didn’t Stark say in December that reform might have to wait until early 2010? At that time, he said lawmakers had too many pressing priorities on the economy and other smaller-scale health issues to move quickly on a large health bill in 2009—at least that’s what The Hill and other outlets reported.

There you have it—Baucus (and Stark) every which way, offering hope or despair to friend and foe of health reform. It sure would be great if the media could remind the health politicos what they have previously said and clue us in when the signals change.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.