The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Train Wreck

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Today, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) announced his retirement – joining five other Democrat senators calling it quits.  Maybe all one needs to know why he is retiring and not running for re-election next year is to read this quote from the senator.  In an April 17 Senate Finance Committee hearing on President Obama’s 2014 budget, Chairman Baucus said the following about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

As you somewhat know, Madam Secretary, I'm going to be a bit -- I'm a bit Johnny One-Note on implementation of the law, especially with respect to sign-ups and exchanges, et cetera, and am very concerned that not enough is being done so far -- very concerned.  When I am home, small businesses have no idea what to do, what to expect.  They don't know what affordability rules are. They don't know what -- when penalties may apply.  They just don't know. I mean, it just -- I was talking to one CPA.  You know, he's not histrionic.  He just was being straight with me.  He says, Max, I just got to tell you that, you know, my clients, small-business people, are just throwing their hands up and I don't know what to tell them.  That's just from the small-business perspective, let alone all the other issues that are going to be arising here.  And I just -- as I discussed earlier and as you well know, a lot of people have no idea about all of this. They just -- people just don't know a lot about it, and the Kaiser poll pointed that out.  I understand you've hired a contractor.  I'm just worried that that's going to be money down the drain because contractors like to make money more than they do like to do anything else.  That's their job. They've got to worry about their shareholders and whatnot.  And -- I mean, and also, all the other agencies are all involved.  People are going to be really confused.  And maybe you can give some thought to a one-stop shopping somehow so you go to one location, a business person -- one location to get the answers." I just tell you, I just see a huge train wreck coming down.  You and I have discussed this many times, and I don't see any results yet.  What can you do to help all these people around the country wondering what in the world do I do and what -- whether I know what to do?

This profoundly candid remark from the Senator that helped create and write Obamacare sent shockwaves through Washington, D.C.  No doubt he heard criticism from some of his Democrat colleagues after the Finance Committee hearing and tried to walk back the comments in a press release.  He said:

This is a good law but it can’t work if people don’t understand it… I hear from people on the ground in Montana that they are confused about the health care law.  For the insurance marketplaces to work, people need to know their options and how to enroll.  I want families’ lives to be easier, and I want small businesses to focus on job creation, not confusion.  The administration must use every day between now and October 1 to have insurance marketplaces up and running.”

But Baucus’s action today shows where his heart really is when it comes to ACA.  He doesn’t want to face the Montana voters in the fall of 2014 when mass confusion reigns as citizens try to sign up with either poorly functioning or inoperable exchanges, thousands of employers start dropping health insurance because it is cheaper to pay the fine not to provide health insurance than it is to provide the benefit, and the “Utopian” Obamacare is collapsing all around him. Baucus has not been polling well too.  According to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democrat polling company, he was below 50% when compared to all possible challengers.  Plus, the state voted for McCain in 2008 (50% to 47%) and by a larger margin for Romney in 2012 (55% to 42%). A recent blog “Putting Lipstick on the Obamacare Pig” by John Fund shows that Baucus is not the only one concerned about Obamacare.  Fund points out other reality checks and concerns as Obamacare is implemented like how seniors will react to the “dramatic cuts to Medicare Advantage.”  Or how “Kinsey Robinson, the president of the 22,000-member United Union of Roofers, issued a public statement last week calling for ‘repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.’”  Or how “Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, admitted his doubts to a group of health-care executives recently.  ‘We are under 200 days from open enrollment [in Obamacare], and I’m pretty nervous,’ he said.  ‘The time for debating . . . is it a world-class experience, that’s what we used to talk about two years ago.  Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience.’” It is said that actions always speak louder than words and today’s action by one of the most senior Democrat senators in Washington and chief author of Obamacare speaks volumes.  Rather than defend his creation in an election, Senator Baucus is choosing the easy way out.  It is a clear indication of just how bad Obamacare really is.

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