Speed Reads

Playing politics

When Harry Reid killed bipartisan health care reform

Win McNamee/Getty Images

With ObamaCare in need of fixing, Yahoo News' Matt Bai hearkens back to a 2009 conversation he had with then-Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, who warned that Democrats "could ram through a health-care overhaul on a partisan vote. But you wouldn't be able to sustain it."

"Baucus turned out to be prescient," Bai concedes, echoing Baucus' contention that "this kind of sprawling social legislation... doesn't end with a single vote."

True enough. Unfortunately, Bai then advances the conventional, if revisionist, wisdom that "Democrats didn't have a whole lot of choice."

But they did. As the AP reported in 2009, a "middle-of-the-road measure fashioned by the committee under Baucus' leadership" had won over the support of GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe. President Obama even praised this development as "a critical milestone."

A few days later, however, Harry Reid scuttled the deal, insisting on a public option. As CNN reported:

Snowe issued a statement Monday saying she was "deeply disappointed" with Reid's decision on the public option. She argued that a decision in favor of a trigger "could have been the road toward achieving a broader bipartisan consensus in the Senate."

Democrats chose to eschew a bipartisan health-care compromise, guaranteeing there would be zero Republican skin in the game. The consequence being that Democrats now solely "own" it.