Throughout this year, Baucus sent signals, dropped hints, and occasionally acknowledged that the opposition was fighting like hell. From an early Baucus Watch post which reported that Baucus said lobbyists “really care about our country;” to one that said he considered a public option as a mere bargaining chip to force insurance companies into accepting other reforms; to a post noting how he had ordered the eviction of single-payer advocates from his hearing room; to last week’s Baucus Watch which revealed that he would place online only his bill’s conceptual language, not the actual language; it was obvious that the chairman did not favor a public option, and perhaps was listening to the health care interests which had given him gobs of money, and to the ex-staffers now employed by those interests.
Still, progressives and their lobbying organizations held out hope, and some actually believed that a public option would prevail. Writing on The Nation’s Web site, John Nichols noted that the health care debate “has already provided more than enough disappointment for Americans who recognize the need for a thorough reordering of the way in which this nation meets the medical needs of its populace.” Without Democratic support on the key Senate committees, health reform “will not advance,” Nichols said. “What we will get, at best is insurance reform.”
That appears to be what the Senate Finance chairman had in mind all along. “We got Baucused,” one single-payer advocate remarked after the vote, further explaining: “I guess his name is now a verb: kind of like bend over because you just got Baucused.”