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Self-Destruct Button, Activiated!

Max Baucus and Kent Conrad think Joe Wilson--you know, the discredited Republican congressman who shouted out "lie" during President Obama's speech--may have had a point after all. And so, before they're done negotiating a bill that they hope to release next week, they're going to make triple sure to keep undocumented workers from getting health insurance subsidies--even if the bill was never going to provide such subsidies in the first place.

Everything Brian Beutler, Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias say about this is true. Undocumented workers would not be eligible for taxpayer-funded assistance under reform. Instead, if they wanted insurance, they'd have to pay for it with their own money, like they do now.

It's true that illegals would be buying coverage through a market that is more heavily regulated than today's. But is that something we're really going to start policing? We don't generally make a habit of checking residency papers at the grocery store, simply because the FDA has rules about food safety. (And I hope we don't start. The lines at my grocery store are long enough already, thank you very much.)

But let's put aside the policy issues. This is about politics right, right? But the politics of this are beyond stupid. After weeks of playing defense, the White House and its allies finally have momentum going again. Wilson's stunt has helped, by making the public see just how extreme, and uncooperative, the Republicans really are. Now here come Baucus and Conrad to the Republicans' rescue, giving Wilson the veneer of legitimacy.