Senator Baucus, chairman of the GATEWAY committee (Senate Finance) announced more bad news for the administration, its partisans and all Americans hopeful that any kind of health care deal can be accomplished any time this year when he said late Thursday his committee will not be able to reach agreement before leaving for their recess next week.

You have got to understand that movement thru this committee or that, or whatever progress may occur on the floor of Pelosi's house, are all relatively insignficant occurances so long as Senator Baucus' Finance Committee is hung up over CBO scoring or "government options" or failure of the 3 Republicans (Grassley, Gregg, Enzi) to reach agreement with the 3 Democrats...

In other words, it's all going to come down, in the end, to Senate Finance. It always was and always will. It's simply the lay of the land.

And Baucus late Thursday threw up his hands in futility once more, very publicly, at least the third time in the last 6 weeks the disconcerted Chairman has expressed almost hair-tearing frustration.

This health care reform is just turning out to be a bitch.

It was in Baucus' committee, you recall, that CBO boss Doug Elmendorf testified (on July 16) that under the Waxman Plan the COST CURVE, contrary to reversing its trajectory as required to satisfy the president's most basic requirements, instead rather steepens its course upwards---SIGNIFICANTLY.

Elmendorf's testimony, elicted under questioning from Kent Conrad, was certainly the single biggest blow dealt to Obama's ambitions to overhaul the nation's health delivery systems.

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's drive for U.S. healthcare reform suffered another setback on Thursday when Senate Finance Committee leaders said the panel would not vote on a compromise plan before senators leave for a month-long August recess next week.

Committee Chairman Max Baucus said there had not been sufficient progress to complete the healthcare bill by the end of next week but talks between three Democrats and three Republicans on the panel would continue.

"It is clear there will not be a markup next week," Baucus told reporters after another in a long series of closed-door sessions between the committee's six negotiators.

With polls showing public support for Obama's healthcare reform plans waning, the Senate delay was another dose of bad news for his hopes to gain approval for a bill that will lower healthcare costs and expand coverage to the uninsured.

"The bill is not ready for prime time," Republican Senator Michael Enzi, one of the party's three negotiators, told reporters.

The delay could increase pressure on Baucus and Senate Democratic leaders to jettison the bipartisan talks and move forward without Republican support.

"We are committed to finding a bipartisan solution as expeditiously as possible," Baucus said after acknowledging there would not be a panel vote until September.
In the house, meanwhile, Waxman's Energy-Commerce Committee, which just yesterday boasted the most promising progress toward reform in weeks, is once more bogged down in debate.

Yesterday, four of the seven Bluedogs on Energy-Commerce signalled willingness to work with Waxman. Today, CNN's Campbell Brown reports the melancholy chairman is down to two.

In other words, 5 of the 7 Dogs on Energy-Commerce today are leaning toward oppostion.

In the House of Representatives, the Energy and Commerce Committee -- the last of three House panels to vote on healthcare reform -- began debate after striking a deal with conservative Democrats.

The panel spent much of Thursday wading through dozens of amendments to the measure. Final approval could come Friday.
Finally, back in the Senate, Baucus' busiest obstacle appears to be Democratic qualms with the "purple" plan that would do away with, once and for all, any talk of a "government option," replacing it with a "non profit co op."

Senator Conrad, you'll recall, declared on Tuesday that the ALL BLUE bill currently worrying overworked Waxman down in Pelosi's Place had NO CHANCE of ultimate passage in the Senate.

Yet, the purple-ish co op which could conceivably succeed on the expenisve blue carpet of upper parliament is angrily opposed in the lower house by progressives, led by Ms Woolsey.

Poor Baucus, poor Bluedogs, poor Obama---all of em, damned if they do, doomed if they don't.

Can't go forward, can't go back, can't turn left, nor right.

In the Senate, the Finance Committee negotiations have focused on a plan that would use non-profit cooperatives to compete with private insurers to help drive down costs.

A government-run insurance program, favored by Obama and many of his fellow Democrats but resisted by Republicans and the insurance industry, would not pass the Senate, Democrat Kent Conrad, one of the panel negotiators, told the NPR radio network.

But a coalition of liberal House Democrats said it would oppose any final version of a House bill that did not include a "robust" public insurance option.

The White House did not comment on whether it would support a bill without a public option.
WRAPUP 4-U.S. healthcare plan suffers a Senate delay | Markets | Markets News | Reuters

Leadership's a bitch.

The Prof