Ezra Klein on Baucuscare

Ezra likes it.

He likes it.*

Since “Baucus” has been the world’s longest four-letter word among progressives this summer, this is a surprise, and Ezra’s views deserve weight.

Footnote Conflict-of-interest statement: thirty-five years ago, I worked on Max Baucus’s first Congressional campaign, and liked the guy. So I’m reluctant to believe – despite his sellout on the Bush tax cuts – that’s he’s quite the stupid sociopath he’s been made out to be.

* Update In part.  Commenter SP is correct.  “Worst policy in the world” may be slightly hyperbolic, but as descdribed it’s pretty damned bad.   Employers are penalized for not providing health insurance, but only to the extent that they hire workers who get big subsidies.   That is, the bill incoroporates a huge tax on hiring low-wage workers with families.  Huh?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

9 thoughts on “Ezra Klein on Baucuscare”

  1. I don't recall anyone calling Baucus a "stupid sociopath." What I think critics have alleged, and I believe today's GOP reaction to his mark displays, is that he is either hopelessly naive and/or ineffectual. He allowed the President and members of his party in Congress to rot on the vine for over a month in hopes of producing a magical pony (in this case, a bill with bipartisan support). Crickets… that is the sound of all the GOP Senators supporting Baucus.

  2. You should correct the post to read, "Ezra likes part of it." He's pleasantly surprised by exchanges, thinks the Medicaid limits are an improvement, thinks the co-ops are weaker than weak, and thinks the free rider provisions is, "The Worst Policy in the Bill, and Possibly in the World." Today was Baucus day at his blog, read the whole day's posts.

    Hopefully the good elements are merged into the good parts of the other bills. Unfortunately the sausage making process tends to do the opposite and merge the bad with the bad.

  3. "What I think critics have alleged, and I believe today’s GOP reaction to his mark displays, is that he is either hopelessly naive and/or ineffectual."

    I think that he's a back-stabbing son of a (rhymes with witch). He figured that he could gain more power by aligning with the GOP and trashing his own party; his seat is probably secure, and he doesn't care about anybody else's.

  4. Betsy, and that's assuming that Mark is capable of correctly discerning Baucas' character back then, when Baucas' job is handling people. Start with that difficulty, and then throw in a 35-year extrapolation, and it becomes rough. Some things would carry through – if Mark realized that Baucas was a corrupt SOB back then, 35 years of political life probably didn't improve that character. But a long, successful political (or corporate) career should be quite capable of taking a good person, and corrupting them.

  5. Hold on…this is very misleading. Ezra wrote at least 5 or 6 posts on different aspects of the Baucus plan…the one you linked to was the only one that he really liked, and even then he expressed reservations (about the length of time it took for the exchanges to be open to all) in a later post. So to imply that Ezra "likes" Baucuscare is very, very misleading.

  6. On the other hand, if 15% of Ezra's commentary was not entirely negative about Baucuscare, Mark's right — that is significantly more positive than the Common Wisdom would have predicted.

  7. Suzi, I disagree – it's hard to produce a plan with absolutely no good points in it (to Godwin, even the Nazis produced the Autobahns). A plan with 10% good, 40% bad and 50% very bad would be a bad bill, but still have good points. And, of course, Ezra is working for the WaPoo, and everything that he writes needs to be parsed under the assumption that he's subject to varying levels of Columnism.

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