Senator Phil Gramm, the Texas Republican, was a free market zealot who was more responsible than any other politician for the mortgage meltdown that led to the epidemic of foreclosures and the current economic recession. Now Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat, is playing a similar role in the battle over health care reform. Although certainly more moderate than the right-wing Gramm, Baucus is nevertheless using his influence to undermine President Barack Obama's efforts to enact meaningful regulations that would require the insurance and drug companies to act more responsibly.
Just as Gramm argued that the banking industry could police itself without government rules and safeguards, Baucus is tying the hands of Congressional reformers who understand that we can't trust the insurance and drug companies to protect consumers and control costs. If Baucus is successful, health care costs will continue to skyrocket and hurt the nation's economic well-being, compounding the damage caused by Gramm's reckless role in stifling banking reform.
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