The Senate Finance Committee now stands in recess until Tuesday, September 29 at 9:30 a.m., at which point they will return to the work of going through over 500 amendments to the Baucus plan. In addition to the fact that these kinds of hearings can be very boring, we have learned a variety of things about the Baucus plan and the process over the last few days:
First, the mandate really is a tax increase, despite the president's protestations. The penalty for violating the mandate will be collected by IRS. In addition, the "fees" on manufacturers will be passed on to consumers, which is another form of tax.
Second, the effect of the bill will be to raise the price of insurance for healthy individuals, especially the young, who voted in heavy numbers for Obama. This will hurt low-income people as well by making it harder for them to purchase insurance.
Third, some of the amendments exposed some real weaknesses that the Democrats will have to work through; as K-Lo noted earlier, all but one of the Democrats voted to strike the Bunning amendment, which would have required that the bill text be available online for 72 hours before the vote on it.
In addition, Democrats also rejected the Hatch amendment, which would have stopped implementing the bill's provisions if 1 million Americans lost "the current coverage of their choice." This is effectively an admission that Democrats believe many Americans will lose their health insurance as a result of the bill. If they didn't fear the possibility, it would have been easy to vote for Hatch.
The fun begins again Tuesday at noon, with votes on comparative effectiveness and some amendments related to the public option. Enjoy the weekend.