Rockefeller: Baucus Bill Won’t Entice Republicans

Posted September 16, 2009 at 3:38pm

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday said that with the possible exception of Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will not be able to attract Republicans to his health care overhaul bill.

Rockefeller spoke at the White House following a half-hour meeting with President Barack Obama. Obama invited Rockefeller, one of the chief Democratic critics of the Baucus bill, to the private meeting, which was held just hours after Baucus unveiled his legislation.

Rockefeller said Obama, who sought to help Baucus in his so far failed effort to bring Republicans onto the legislation, was “philosophical— during the meeting. But Rockefeller seemed extremely pleased with the session and said the president had strongly demonstrated his commitment to getting legislation passed.

Rockefeller said he would try to add a public insurance option to the Baucus legislation. In a comment certain to rankle Republicans, he added that the classical economist Adam Smith would support a government option — an apparent reference to Democratic arguments that it will increase competition.