Did Evan Bayh Quit Because Reid Refused to Give Paris Hilton a Tax Break?

In his statement explaining why he was quitting, Evan Bayh named the Harry Reid’s decision not to let MaxTax Baucus and Chuck Grassley hold the jobs bill hostage as one of the reasons he does not like Congress.

Just last week, a major piece of legislation to create jobs — the public’s top priority — fell apart amid complaints from both the left and right.

Marc Ambinder expands on poor Evan’s pique that centrists weren’t allowed to hold a jobs bill hostage.

Bayh is an anomaly of sorts; he really grew to dislike the influence of liberal activists on his Senate colleagues. To him, these activists increased the cost of doing business. Reaching out to the other side became more risky than rallying around an ideological pole, even though that rallying around contributed to stasis. When it became clear to Bayh that the White House wasn’t going to play his game — wasn’t going to sell out liberals at every turn — Bayh decided he had had enough.

As it happens, one effect of Reid’s refusal to give into MaxTax Baucus’ demands is that it screwed up ConservaDem and Republican efforts to extend estate tax breaks.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) decision to move a scaled-back job bills has thrown a bipartisan deal to reduce the impact of the estate tax into doubt.

Senate leaders discussed moving an estate tax bill through their chamber that would prevent a huge hike in the tax from taking effect in 2011.

In exchange, Republicans would agree to support the jobs bill created by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the panel’s ranking member, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

As Matt Yglesias pointed out last year, extending the Paris Hilton tax has been a favorite project of Bayh’s and Blanche Lincoln’s. (Here’s Ezra on the same issue.)

Particularly given the way Bayh decided to leave without warning Reid, was that the final straw? Poor Evan Bayh won’t suffer through another term as Senator if he’s not going to be allowed to be a budget hypocrite while calling for cuts in entitlements while pushing to give the super-rich big tax breaks?

  1. bmaz says:

    Evan Bayh won’t suffer through another term as Senator if he’s not going to be allowed to be a budget hypocrite while calling for cuts in entitlements while pushing to give the super-rich big tax breaks?

    And because those worthless pissant progressives (you know, the ones that actually go out and work on elections and lead the local grassroots party efforts that get these jackasses elected) actually feel they are entitled to be heard. Good riddance.

  2. cregan says:

    Empty, I usually appreciate your keen analysis and detail. Here, however, I disagree. It actually is a waste of time discussing the Paris Hilton tax as it is obvious Bayh left for more than just a few reasons.

    Certainly, Reid threw a monkey wrench into long laid out plans to cast Republicans as obstructionist. Obama and his team have been laying the ground work to do just that, and then, Reid goes and screws it all up. The “obstructionist” tag is a PR move, meaning not always based entirely on facts. So, whatever Reid motives and reasons, the PR of his move ruins what Obama and other Democrats had laid out.

    It is possible Bayh just didn’t like the incompetence of Reid blowing the PR line.

    But, likely it wasn’t just Reid, as Reid is likely not to be around after November. If Bayh’s big problem was with Reid, he could have just waited for a few months and he’d be gone.

    You complaint seems similar to when Spector left the GOP and the Repubs response was to pour on sour grapes and say good riddance rather than examine their own role in his leaving.

    There was a real consequence of Spector leaving and there is a real consequence of Bayh leaving.

    The GOP handled it wrong and only the incompetence of the Democrats saved the GOP. With the health care summit PR circus coming up and other indicators showing that incompetence is not abating, I don’t think Dems or progressives can count on a similar turn of events.

      • cregan says:

        OH, I probably agree with you as to what motivated Reid’s move, but the net effect is as I say. It destroyed any painting of the GOP as obstructionists and destroyed all the groundwork that had been laid to make it appear so. A few months work down the drain.

        It didn’t matter what Reid’s motivation was–good or bad. Reid didn’t intend to destroy a few months of work by others, he just did.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      With the health care summit PR circus coming up and other indicators showing that incompetence is not abating, I don’t think Dems or progressives can count on a similar turn of events

      .So, excuse me…?

      How is something that the GOP **said** that they wanted — until they got it! — already now showing up in blog comments as a ‘health care circus’.
      It may turn out to be one.
      Or it may not.

      We’ve not had anything like this before, and given the current disastrous federal politics, dysfunction in Congress, and pay-2-playPolitics that control too much legislation and federal resources, just how is it that in your omniscience, you’ve already concluded this will be a ‘circus’?

      Was Baucus’s endlessly dragged-out committee your definition of ‘success’?
      Was Grassley’s yapping about ‘death panels’ your definition of success?
      Was Ron Wyden being screwed out of the option to get health care exchanges into the Baucus bill at the 59th minute of the 11th hour your definition of ‘success’?

      Someone has to try something new at this point.
      And condemning it out of hand, sight unseen seems not only hasty, but irresponsible.

      • cregan says:

        Yes, it COULD be something new and untried that moves the logjam if it were actually intended honestly.

        Televising the session doesn’t contribute to the atmosphere of it being real. Kind of like Ito’s courtroom, a lot of posturing that produces a bad result. And, after not televising the back room sessions that produced the ugly result here-to-fore, I doubt the TV camera’s are there for any purpose other than to manuever the GOP into looking bad in one way or other.

        That makes me believe the only purpose of the session is a dog and pony show.

        A real effort along these lines would have been to scrap what is out there now and start over. Here’s my idea of a bipartisan bill:

        A strong public option, a strong, real medical tort reform componant, all insurance sales in all 50 states, a strong package addressing the costs that are billed TO the insurance companies (notice, not the costs the insurance companies pass to you in premiums–get to the real root).

        To me, that is a real bipartisan health care reform starting point. And, coincidentally, it helps the public.

        • Larue says:

          So, you want a strong public option but you don’t say what it is, or if it provides DIRECT competition to private insurnace.

          You want tort reform, which has proven to be a drop in the bucket, which will kill patient’s rights for mal or bad practice and medical mistakes.

          You want to hold the medical delivery complex responsible for over billing.

          And you claim, this will help the general public . . .

          Wow. Who do you work for? Anthem?

          • cregan says:

            So many mistakes you make.

            First, a strong public option means exactly what you are others here have said. An entity that will compete with private insurance companies. What you consider to be a strong public option, is what I meant.

            Second, tort reform, if strong, will be vastly more effective in reducing costs than any other factory. I think anyone who has received any kind of medical attention in the last few years has had strong suspicions that many of the tests and procedures they are getting are totally unnecessary and only there because the doctor or hospital must cover their ass in case some ambulance chasing attorney sues them. Dropping all those wasted services would greatly reduce the cost of health care. FAR more than any public option.

            Many try to distract on tort reform by claiming it’s a drop in the bucket because they falsely imply that the purpose of it is only to reduce malpractice insurance costs. Malpractice insurance cost is a tiny, tiny fraction of the cost unreformed tort regimes inflict on health care.

            Who else to hold responsible for over billing than the medical delivery complex–as you call it? They are the ones billing!

            As long as the costs of the services keep skyrocketing up, the cost of insurance–whether from a public option or a private company–will continue to go up.

            In 9 months I have not seen one person on this forum give any concrete data regarding why the cost of SERVICES is rising fast. They all concentrate on the people who basically pass along the cost of those services, but never once question why the cost of the services themselves are skyrocketing.

            Lastly, and the main point, I proposed something that could be a bipartisan framework for health care reform. It contained things I don’t like, but which you like–such as strong public option. It contained some things I like, but you might not.

            You basically reinforced the Democratic approach which is “nothing you want, only the things we want.” Their idea of bipartisan compromise.

            Hence the low poll numbers and rip tide pulling the sand from under their feet.

            • bmaz says:

              The case for “tort reform” in medicine is absolute bullshit. It does not reduce costs whatsoever; there is hard proof on this if you know anything about MICRA, enacted long ago in California. Draconian medical tort restrictions and California continues to this day to have among the very highest health care expense rates in the nation. The only thing “tort reform” does is line the pockets of doctors and providers, deny citizen plaintiffs due process access to courts for wrongs inflicted on them and remove the only real accountability extant in healthcare since state medical boards are almost universally feckless in this regard. Tort reform is a big business meme that is a lie and not supported by facts and experience.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                I concur. The GOP campaign for “tort reform” is really directed at defunding major Democratic Party fundraisers – plaintiffs’ lawyers – and to protect their corporate masters from having liability for their faulty products and services – and those who insure them. Experiences in Mississippi and Alabama should amply illustrate that.

                Malpractice suits, for example, are a tiny fraction of health care costs. Claims are already hampered by state-mandated, doctor friendly processes, such as mandatory initial non-binding arbitration of claims. Lowering their cost would do little to enhance health care or lower its costs. Insurers would be happy, though. They have the obligation to defend these suits, as well as to pay for their clients’ covered claims.

              • cregan says:

                This somewhat stands common sense on its head.

                I don’t know all the details of the California law, but I doubt it was strong reform.

                And, I don’t know of too many deserving California patients who have been denied compensation for a true wrong. I read a few of main big city papers here cover to cover every day and don’t recall seeing too many, if any, articles detailing such.

                Texas is likely a better example.

                Like I say, everyone who has been to a doctor over the last few years knows they have taken tests and done actions which were really unnecessary. It’s obvious usually.

                If you want the system you desire, then you have to live with the consequences–skyrocketing costs.

                As I remember, you might be a lawyer, so I don’t expect you to promote anything that goes against your personal interests. That’s not a critique, only an understanding.

                • bmaz says:

                  Nice to make such generalized statements and claims without knowing squat about it. MICRA was extremely tough and prophylactic reform and is, in fact, what the bullshit being proposed nationally was originally based on. And it was a complete failure for nearly two decades in constraining runaway medical costs and expenses in California that were only finally brought into line by strict rate regulation. so called “tort reform” will not do jack shit to reduce rising costs and expenses, denies citizens due process rights to courts and removes an effective accountability mechanism.

                  • cregan says:

                    As I say, it defies common sense.

                    There is no question that many, many tests and procedures are only being done to be used as defense against possible lawsuits. My last visit I can name 3 things that had nearly 0 chance of being useful or having much to do with the cause of why I was there. I could see some nebulous connection to it, but even a layman like me could see it was not really needed.

                    From conversations with others, I know this is very common. They’ve been told it is to cover in case of legal action.

                    My bill was nearly twice as high as it should have been.

                    I know that estimates of the overall cost of this defensive medicine have been made.

                    I am in California, so the “reform” was certainly not good enough or strong enough to stop the defensive medicine here.

                    Effective reform would be such that all defensive medicine would be greatly reduced. We haven’t seen it here yet, despite what you say.

                    Also, I find it hard to believe that any legislature in this state would pass any kind of legal reform that actually made a difference and wasn’t with back door mechanisms to continue the status quo.

                    AS I mentioned, I read the three major newspapers of the state cover to cover every day. I have not seen ANY article over the last number of years that details ANY kind of mass denial of due process to any legitimate patient. Maybe you can direct me to some.

                    I HAVE seen articles about a guy who goes around making money by filing suits against rural stores and establishments that don’t have handicapped rules fulfilled to the T. Which has nothing to do with health care, but just another indicator of how suppressive types use the law to squash people.

            • PJEvans says:

              You talk about this like you believe the crap the GOP spouts.

              A lot of the increasing costs in health care are being driven by the insurance companies and their premium increases. They won’t admit it – they’d have to admit that they don’t care if their customers die. (Actually, they’d probably prefer that customers die – they’d avoid paying out on claims.)

              • cregan says:

                This is quite laughable. This is like auto parts costs going up and then you blame your mechanic for the bill being higher.

                Sorry, but the insurance company premiums increases mainly reflect the costs of the services themselves. The insurance company didn’t bill my brother the $1200 for the one shot of demyrol (sp?) he got during a recent hospital stay. Or the thousands for some type of digital scan.

                And, in looking over the bill, it was certain that at least 30 to 40% of it was defensive medicine–not really needed except to show the doctor “did everything reasonsable” to ward off lawsuits.

                You’re looking for a bogey man whether true or not.

            • PJEvans says:


              You basically reinforced the Democratic approach which is “nothing you want, only the things we want.” Their idea of bipartisan compromise.

              The GOP idea of bipartisan compromise, more accurately. The Dems give them what they want, in hopes of getting a few votes from them so it looks ‘bipartisan’ for the news.

              • cregan says:

                Now whose buying whose line.

                Tell me one major aspect of Health Care reform that is a GOP backed idea?

                There are none. There never were intended to be any. The Baucas deal was simply trying to let a few GOP senators give some ideas that might soften a few of the major ideas of the Democrats to possibly make them more acceptable. It was never giving the Senators the opportunity to have any major or fundamental proposal incorporated.

                The point still stands. Democratic ideas of bipartisan are “nothing of your ideas, all of ours, and we’ll let you pick up a few scraps.” A big feast in which allowing the GOP to decide if one item in the feast should have some salt amounts to ‘bipartisan.”

        • djfourmoney says:

          Why would we need to scrap the current passed bills both of them not very good?

          Couldn’t you change the whole thing in reconciliation?

          Starting over and making it go through committee again would just draw it directly into Mid-Terms do you want to take that risk?

          Ah nevermind – SB810 we’re much closer to what progressives want at the State level than what’s being proposed at the Federal level, I suggest move or grin and bear it.

          • papau says:

            Yes – toss the 2 bills and just do a recon bill that adds Medicare for all buy in at self supporting rates.

            Nothing else is needed and the Medicare buy in savings could pay for a Medicaid expansion.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As you say, Bayh’s decision not to run has been in the works for a while. The exquisitely undemocratic timing of his announcement is testament to that. It displays in full tones and with multiple points the fingerprints of Rahm’s Emanuelandering of his Senate seat. A stick in the eye to democracy is the best that Rahm can be. What does Evan get in return for playing such nice catch to Rahm’s pitch?

    If this is what the COS does full time, and it must be a big chunk of his time, how much of the people’s business is being spun off to no-name, no known-motivation staff he controls?

    Will Obama ever wake up or is he in a permanent state of all “there” and no “here”? Is he really as vacuous as Bachman, as limp as Reid, as arch conservative as Lieberman??

  4. ezdidit says:

    Good riddance to Blue Dogs everywhere. Bring on the Progressives! Let the Tea Party rejoice! We have their back even if they know not what they do.

  5. Arbusto says:

    When it became clear to Bayh that the White House wasn’t going to play his game — wasn’t going to sell out liberals at every turn — Bayh decided he had had enough.

    I must have been in a coma this last year. I don’t recall anything but selling Liberals a bill of goods, and nothing of substance.

    What a prig.

    • PaulaT says:

      He was supposed to say out loud, “Fuck you, liberals, I heart Evan Bayh and Wellpoint more than you!” instead of paying lip service to wanting a public option and all. Huge egos can’t be stroked on results alone, the messaging also has to be right.

  6. Hmmm says:

    When it became clear to Bayh that the White House wasn’t going to play his game — wasn’t going to sell out liberals at every turn — Bayh decided he had had enough.

    As the kids say: wOOt!

  7. NotJust4Breakfast says:

    MAYBE Bayhbie is running to lawyer up in advance of charges of misconduct, and he needs those millions for attorney fees?

  8. BillE says:

    I think Mr. Wellpoint is off to get super duper rich and was planning this for right after the insurance reform bill died for a long time.

    The estate tax thing is also part of this because he wants to be rich enough to deal with it for his heirs.

  9. allan says:

    What sort of Orwellian claptrap is “estate tax”?
    It’s the DEATH TAX!, people.
    Not only are Nancy’s death panels going to kill Granny, they’re going to tax you for the privilege.
    I read about it on the WSJ editorial page.

  10. jayt says:

    from my own ‘personal’ e-mail from Bayh:

    “At this time, I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning, or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor.

    Either that, or lobbying like a motherfucker”

    It’s entirely possible that there’s one sentence in there that I just made up…..

  11. lllphd says:

    hey, the guy announced that he is “an executive,” after all; he’s leaving in a snit because reid didn’t kowtow to his ‘executive’ talents. someone needs to read him the article I and II diffs.

    cregan, your logic is not so easy to follow. what kind of jobs bill proposed by baucus and bayh could possibly be in the interests of anyone but big business, no matter how long it took them to craft it?? certainly not in the interests of the american people. without even knowing the details, i counted reid’s move one of the few bold moves we’ve seen from senate dems in a long while, albeit toward fellow dems, especially given that that bayh-baucus (read “buy baucus”) might then become the starting point for the inevitable further compromises with republicans. sounds like a no brainer to me.

    and wrt your analysis of televising the summit, what turnip truck did you just fall off, exactly? did you not catch any of the republicans’ humiliation at their own caucus luncheon? they’re scrambling now to avoid a repeat performance. not to mention the fact that they actually asked for this transparency themselves. and as for the “purpose” being to maneuver the gop into looking bad…. from where i’m sitting, no one has to lift a finger for that to happen; they manage to look like asses, even when they try not to; they can’t help it.

    as for your notion of a good hcr bill, i’m a single payer person myself; cut out the greedy profiteering middle man insurance creeps and save boatloads of dough while providing healthcare directly to each and every one of us. can’t think of a better way to reduce the deficit, actually; raise taxes at a rate lower than anyone’s current premiums, and who could object? what a concept, eh? but your ideas are already in the senate bill, generally speaking. didn’t you get the memo? tort issues only account for a very small percentage of overall healthcare costs; go here to see that analysis. tort reform is just republican code for protect the big hospitals and doctors and malpractice insurance companies from being sued, which – by the by – is a right protected in the constitution. ya gotta wonder why republicans aren’t bleating about that one. and having worked for many years in a major hospital, i can tell you that you are just plain wrong about what the “real root” is; not the charges from the providers, pal; all you have to do is compare profit margins for those industries. what has been going on for years, mainly since hmo’s started upping the ante after ’94, is this: providers charge X, then insurers reduce the percentage they’ll pay to .8X, so providers charge 1.2X, then insurers reduce the percentage to .7X…. you get the picture. not saying providers are lily white here, but they actually happen to be the folks on the front line with the patients, after all. and again, insurance companies are nothing more than a completely unnecessary black hole middle man, sucking the whole process dry.

    i find i’m actually tiring here of stating the obvious, having only left out the obvious fact that you may not have consulted the best sources on these issues. i highly recommend you try something other than the standard republican talking points here, as they’re so easily shredded, and the readership is beyond sharp. and i am unquestionably a lightweight; you’ve been warned.

    • Larue says:

      Thank you, the jobs bill at hand in the Senate is worthless in terms of solving the problems of 10 million job losses since ’06 and likely a similar amount from ’03 to ’06.

      It was watered down and a giveaway to the corps, no reform in it and no stimulus in it.

      Mr. Cregan has me confused on a couple of issues, jobs bill and HCR.

  12. orionATL says:

    hooray, hooray

    kaladjus day,

    the good punt “sas bayh” is sailing away.

    bayh’s leaving is very good news for the long- run health of the democratic party.

    if a republican wins his seat, fine.

    let that republican govern.

    one enormous mistake democratic party muck-t-mucks make is going into seizure about a sorry- assed democrat like bayh leaving the congress ( to make loafs of money lobbying (i like the typo, i’ll leave)).

    chances are bayh has been offered big- bank money to leave now and run for something later.

    his “explanation” for hos decision is classic political misdirection.

    now, one can hope, dems can fork the leavings from bahy’s senate stable onto the manure spreader and grow some good candidates.


    there are so many OLD- fart democrats who won’t leave except boots first.

    i’ll hazzard the guess that “death be not quick”

    is not a wise policy position for the dem party at this moment in history.

  13. MarkH says:


    Maybe what happened was that the possible reappearance of the Public Option for HCR made some ConservaDems angry and they wanted to hold the Jobs bill to kill HCR and Harry Reid wouldn’t let them.

    Very Interesting indeed.

    If this is true then a lot of people have to change (at least some of) their opinion of Reid. Heh. Good job!

  14. papau says:

    A 2001 Harvard BA grad Marc Ambinder who edits politics for the Atlantic and Andrew Sullivan says “When it became clear to Bayh that the White House wasn’t going to play his game — wasn’t going to sell out liberals at every turn — Bayh decided he had had enough.” and folks take him seriously?

    Obama has sold out liberals/progressives from day one when he demanded the Dems start with a stimulus bill that was half tax cuts.

    Maybe he was trying for laughs – in that case – LOL!!! :-)

  15. pale rider says:

    Bayh aspires to be a Big Phama Executive. I bet he gets a big pay off from the Health Care Insurance Industry.

  16. pale rider says:

    toss the 2 bills and just do a recon bill that adds Medicare for all buy in at self supporting rates.

    Nothing else is needed and the Medicare buy in savings could pay for a Medicaid expansion.

    Great Idea ! It’s simple. Everyone can understand it. And everyone likes Medicare. I’m not so sure it couldn’t be done by Executive Order.

  17. iamraven says:

    The good Senator Evan Bayh quit because I said so. I’m kidding, but seriously. I wonder how much power the corporatist Dems feel that they have now?

    Senators, we are watching you. Hello, Blanche Lincoln.

    Do not piss on your base support that gets you elected. It can get you un-elected. Come, let’s talk about that trickle-down theory that’s been talked about.

  18. doubleaseven says:

    Bayh Departs. Good riddance!

    Keith Olbermann of Countdown recently quoted Evan Bayh’s freakish reason for leaving “I hates the senate and hate the left bloggers.” All of 2009 has been about his sabotaging of the Obama campaign platform – with the help of the DINO corporatist Blue Dogs – a group he tried to organize right after taking office. An excerpt about his attempts to castrate Health Care Reform is given below.

    “We (you know who this “we” is – you sly fox) are stuck on “narrow ideology” and are not “practical solutions”. Hey Bayh tell me what you add to the Democratic agenda. I do know you subtract everything that might help the ordinary folks. You beat your chest about fiscal responsibility as if it is your exclusive property. Every progressive is just as aware in fact more than you, about not squandering people’s money. Your hippocracy is plainly revealed in your sabotage of “Medicare for All” and a “Robust PO” – most beneficial to deficit reduction – your colleague Dennis Kucinich is willing to explain. But your Corporate servitude gets in the way of even lending an honest ear. I had sent you a note about honestly paying for health care and starting the benefits right away by piggybacking the PO on Medicare. I am sure you and your fellow Dogs might have chewed it up.

    Because of your sabotage of the party agenda with help from that fake coalition of saboteur Blue Mutts you established and chaired (?) – I for one am happy to see you go. Good riddance!”

  19. bailey2739 says:

    Ambinder’s statement is ludicrous. When did it become clear to anyone that “the White House wasn’t going to … sell out liberals at every turn …,”? That’s ALL Obama’s Administration has done, it’s done NOTHING else!

  20. klynn says:


    Anyone been following this? A bit interesting.

    Gordon Brown today stepped into the growing international row over the alleged use of fake passports by the assassins of a Hamas leader in Dubai by promising a full investigation.

    As demands were made for the Israeli ambassador to be summoned to the Foreign Office to answer allegations that its Mossad security service was behind the assassination, the prime minister told London’s LBC radio station: “We are looking at this at this very moment. We have got to carry out a full investigation into this. The British passport is an important document that has got to be held with care.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ambinder’s big Newsweek wet kiss for Bayh was embarrassing. Bayh’s a “committed centrist”, however curiously today’s misshapen political discourse misdefines it. Ambinder doesn’t bother defining it. We’re supposed to know, which means we’re supposed to assume that being centrist is somehow inherently good or equates with supporting the needs of average Americans. It doesn’t. It’s code for kill social spending, but give give banks, corporations and the DoD the keys to the treasury.

    He describes Bayh as if he were a delicate thoroughbred asked to run at a greyhound track. That’s crap. He’s in a tough race and isn’t tough enough to handle it. Frankly, he probably agrees with his GOP opponent more than hsi party or his president, but can’t muster the will to cross the aisle and run as a Republican.

    Bayh is “not wealthy”, though he comes from a family of successful professionals and politicians. He is well-to-do by average American standards, and certainly by average standards in the Hoosier state.

    Evan wants to spend more time with his family and earn more than his highly-compensated medical and corporate board member wife. Making more than his wife, while spending more time with his children, are diametrically opposed ideas. Unless, that is, like Harold Ford and Rahm Emanuel, Bayh joins a NYC investment bank and provides similar, highly compensated, undefined, yet traditional Washington, DC, services.

    Ambinder takes pains to claim that Ms. Bayh’s earnings are legal and defensible. If they were the latter, for a sitting senator legislating the most important health care reform in two generations, Ambinder would not need so reflexively to come to her and Bayh’s defense.