Baucus (D-MT) Resorts to Blackmail to Pass Obamacare [UPDATED]


Can you imagine the reaction if a Republican had tried this?

Top aides to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) called a last-minute, pre-emptive strike on Wednesday with a group of prominent Democratic lobbyists, warning them to advise their clients not to attend a meeting with Senate Republicans set for Thursday.

Russell Sullivan, the top staffer on Finance, and Jon Selib, Baucus’ chief of staff, met with a bloc of more than 20 contract lobbyists, including several former Baucus aides.

“They said, ‘Republicans are having this meeting and you need to let all of your clients know if they have someone there, that will be viewed as a hostile act,’” said a Democratic lobbyist who attended the meeting.

“Going to the Republican meeting will say, ‘I’m interested in working with Republicans to stop health care reform,’” the lobbyist added…

Senate Republicans are opposed to plans by President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats to implement a government-run, public plan option as a part of health care reform. They also are concerned with how Democrats plan to pay for reform.

Recognizing they don’t have the votes to stop legislation on their own, Republicans are pushing their natural allies in the business community to help bring public pressure to bear as another way to influence the outcome.

Obama has set Oct. 15 as the deadline for approval of health care reform, and Democratic leaders in Congress are rushing to clear bills from their respective chambers by the end of July.

“Our effort has been to get these folks to speak their mind,” one senior Senate Republican aide said…

But with Baucus’ office still warning dissenters that anyone who makes their opposition public could be permanently excluded from future negotiations, the groups representing businesses, health care providers, hospitals and similar stakeholders are still wavering on whether to voice their concerns publicly.

The lineup of lobbyists who attended the Wednesday session included a cast of Democratic insiders similar to that at previous meetings convened by Baucus’ staff. The participants included: Jeff Forbes, a former Baucus chief of staff who lobbies at Cauthen Forbes & Williams; Jonathon Jones, a partner with Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart; Tarplin Strategies’ Rich Tarplin, an assistant secretary at Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration; another former Baucus top aide, David Castagnetti, of Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti and OB-C Group founder Larry O’Brien.

The lobbyists represented at this meeting undoubtedly represent all sorts of health care stakeholders: hospitals, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, etc. The unmistakable message from Baucus is that those who don’t roll over and make a deal will wind up getting raked over the coals. Democrats railed for years about the purported heavy hand of hardball politicians like Tom DeLay, but they never resorted to blackmail.

Where is the mainstream media on this?

Update: I just found this video of Baucus directing a CBO official to stop playing the role of impartial arbiter of costs, and instead find ways to justify passing Obamacare:

According to CBO:

CBO’s mandate is to provide the Congress with:

Objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on the wide array of programs covered by the federal budget and

The information and estimates required for the Congressional budget process.

Why doesn’t Baucus want CBO to provide ‘objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses’ when it comes to health care?

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