Baucus, Grassley can't agree on whether they disagree

Funny little exchange between Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) at a press conference Thursday evening on Capitol Hill.

The pair, close friends for years who've brokered many a bipartisan deal, had just emerged from an eight-plus-hours-long closed-door meeting with committee members to go over healthcare reform proposals,
such as whether to create a public plan or whether to implement a "play or pay" requirement that employers either offer health benefits or pay into a kitty for a government program.

Anyway, maybe these two were a little punchy after all that wonkery and politics when they came out to tell the media how the meeting went.

Here's the back-and-forth (you'll have to supply your own laugh track to replace the chuckling of the assembled press corps.)

Grassley: awful lot of conflict. Even Sen. Baucus and I had some conflict as well. ...

[Reporter asks what the conflict was about]

Baucus: We didn't, really. When he said that, I wondered what in the world he was thinking about. No, you know, I don't--there's no disagreement...

Grassley: Well, I don't want to answer the question if you don't want to. No, there is some philosophy difference but--would it be fair for me to say that one of them might be the public option and
the other one might be, a little bit, pay-or-play--play or pay? That'd be a couple where --

Baucus: No, no --

Grassley: Where there might be some differences between our two groups of people?

Baucus: Well, between the two sides, there's a difference, that;s true. But I don't want overemphasize that.

Grassley: Yeah.

Baucus: Because questions were asked on both sides looking towards compromise

Grassely: Oh, sure.

Baucus: Looking toward options

Grassley: And even options added in there

Baucus: Yeah.

- Jeffrey Young

More in Finance

Wall Street prepares Dodd-Frank assault

Read more »