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Evan Bayh Too Coy On Health Care Stance, Says Smiley

Tavis Smiley says Indiana’s junior senator should make his views on the issue known out of respect to the tens of thousands of unemployed Hoosiers.

Evan Bayh Too Coy On Health Care Stance, Says Smiley

Photo: Daniel Robison/ WFIU

Public affairs commentator Tavis Smiley speaks in the newly-deemed "Tavis Smiley Foyer" in the School of Environmental and Public Affairs.

Kokomo native Tavis Smiley says Senator Evan Bayh is being coy about his stance on health insurance reform legislation. Smiley, in Bloomington receive an honor Friday, says Indiana’s junior senator should make his views on the issue known out of respect to the tens of thousands of unemployed Hoosiers.

Indiana’s senior Senator, Richard Lugar, has aligned himself with the majority of Senate Republicans by saying he will not vote for any health insurance legislation currently being discussed.

But Evan Bayh has said little about his stance, leading many to think he’s one of three swing votes in the Senate needed for Democrats to pass their plan. Hoosier native Tavis Smiley says he considers Bayh a good friend.

In town for a naming ceremony in his honor, the public broadcasting personality said Bayh has been straddling the fence on health care, at the expense of representing constituents.

“I don’t think that now is the time for coyness. Senator, what do you mean by public option? What do you think it ought to mean? He’s right when he says nobody should vote for something they’ve never read. He’s right number two that public option could be defined 18 million ways. But he’s wrong about the fact that the approach is about passivity,” Smiley said.

“I think it’s about being aggressive and saying to the people of Indiana that, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to make sure there’s going to be a public option. Here’s how I define it.’ Take your definition in there and get in the debate. Mix it up. But you’ve got to have a point of view about this.”

Susan Bayh, the senator’s wife, has earned more than two million dollars from serving on the corporate boards of health insurance companies over the past decade. While some have suggested that connection represents a conflict of interest for the senator, Smiley says Bayh’s hesitation likely stems from how much the bill will eventually cost.

Daniel Robison

Daniel started as WFIU's Assistant News Director in July 2008. He graduated with a B.A. in history in 2007 and earned an M.A. in journalism two years later. Daniel hosts Ask the Mayor weekly and the occasional Noon Edition. He also hosts Morning Edition on Thursdays, sleepily. Daniel's beats include everything News Director Stan Jastrzebski wants him to cover. And it feels strange to type biography of myself in the third person like this. So that's that.

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  • pmpizzo

    Bayh is stalling because he is between a rock and a hard place . If he votes for the health care bill he will lose all the health industry mioney which he needs to keep his seat. Ifhe does not vote for the public health oprion he will lose his constituency which he needs to keep his seat. I say his public is prettty tired of his wishy washy position on everything.

  • pmpizzo

    Bayh is stalling because he is between a rock and a hard place . If he votes for the health care bill he will lose all the health industry mioney which he needs to keep his seat. Ifhe does not vote for the public health oprion he will lose his constituency which he needs to keep his seat. I say his public is prettty tired of his wishy washy position on everything.

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