Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Painful Stupidity of Max Baucus

Max Baucus finally unveiled the "Baucus Bill" on health care today and I was prepared to give Baucus credit for all of the work he and his staff did on the legislation. I'm for the public option, but I thought Baucus get credit for a sincere effort to craft a bi-partisan bill. Certainly, the effort to put together bi-partisan legislation took hundreds of hours or negotiation and writing. Why, I thought, shouldn't Baucus be congratulated for his hard work even though he had little chance of success?

Now, I know why Baucus shouldn't get any credit.

It's because he's stupid.

One of the Baucus' major strategies for paying for universal health care is to put an additional tax on high end health insurance plans. That doesn't sound like a bad idea in itself, but it turns out that Maine has the fourth highest number of high end insurance plans in the country.

Obama and Baucus have suggested paying for a big chunk of reform by levying new taxes on high-cost insurance plans. Specifically, Baucus has suggested a 35 percent excise tax on insurance plans that cost single individuals more than $8,000 a year and cost families more than $21,000.

Snowe’s problem with that plan is that it could impose a heavy tax burden on Maine, which has one of the highest average health insurance premiums in the country. A July study by Harvard economist David Cutler found that Maine, on average, has the fourth-most costly insurance premiums in the country, trailing only Connecticut, Delaware and New Hampshire.

That's the state of Maine that is represented in the Senate by Olympia Snowe, the Senator who was the Republican most likely to support health reform. Maine is also represented in the Senate by Republican moderate Susan Collins. The Democrats would like to get support from Collins whenever they can get it as well.

In other words, proposing a tax that would negatively impact Maine is an incredibly stupid idea. Max Baucus and his staff have to be incredibly stupid people to even propose that kind of idea.

If Obama supported this idea, he's stupid too.

Talk about painful stupidity, Baucus might have as well have proposed a tax surcharge on lobsters.

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