October 16, 2009 5:46PM

Max Baucus’s Magic?

Max Baucus says every single Democratic senator will vote for all the taxes, all the private‐​sector mandates, all the inter‐​governmental mandates, all the Medicare spending cuts, and all the new private‐​insurance subsidies that he and Harry Reid are cobbling together. What’s left to discuss?

Baucus may know something I don’t. But here’s what I do know.

  1. To subsidize Paul, Democrats need to rob Peter. And Peter ain’t gonna like that, whether “Peter” is union members, small businesses, insurance companies, medical‐​device manufacturers, sick people, or the middle class broadly.
  2. Of course, the government already does a lot of Peter‐​robbing and Paul‐​paying in health care. Democrats could subsidize Paul #2 by cutting subsidies to Paul #1. But again, Paul #1 — whether “he” be seniors, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical‐​device manufacturers, home health agencies, skilled nursing facilities, etc. — ain’t gonna like that.
  3. Members of Congress, including Democratic senators, tend to listen to those Peters and Paul #1s.
  4. Democrats could try to rob future generations, but they (particularly President Obama) have painted themselves into a corner on that one by promising not to add to the deficit. And with regard to deficit spending, the public appears to be in no mood.

Heck, I’m sure that Baucus knows a lot of things I don’t know. But I doubt he knows any magical incantations that’ll make those challenges go away.

(Cross‐​posted at Politico’s Health Care Arena.)