Posts Tagged ‘Max Baucus’
December 19th, 2013 at 1:28 pm
Baucus Beijing Appointment Shows White House Running Scared in 2014
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Word leaked out yesterday that the White House is planning on nominating veteran Montana Senator Max Baucus (a Democrat) to become the new U.S. Ambassador to China. This continues this Administration’s long pattern of using the ambassadorial post in Beijing to take care of domestic political concerns rather than to strengthen our hand in international affairs.

Recall that Obama’s first appointment to the post was Jon Huntsman, then the Republican Governor of Utah. The Administration’s political hacks crowed at the time that this was a bit of Machiavellian genius, having sent Obama’s foremost potential rival for the 2012 presidential election halfway around the world. There were only two problems with that theory: (1) The Republican primary electorate had no real interest in Huntsman (Team Obama should have realized that anyone they saw as an appealing Republican would be a non-starter in a GOP election) and (2) Huntsman proved this fact by resigning the post a few years in and returning stateside to run against the president anyway. He was then subsequently replaced by Secretary of Commerce (and former Washington Governor) Gary Locke, whose primary qualification seemed to be his Chinese ancestry.

My first reaction to the Baucus appointment was precisely the one that NBC’s First Read highlights this morning:

Ever since Baucus said he wasn’t running for re-election — and after former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) took a pass on running — Montana has become a clear pick-up opportunity for Republicans, giving them a do-able shot at netting the six seats needed to win back the Senate next year.

But yesterday’s news means that the state’s Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, gets to appoint a replacement for Baucus, and most observers believe the replacement pick will be Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D), who is already running for Baucus’ seat.

Putting someone like Walsh in the Senate would boost his name ID, give him the benefits of incumbency (staff, official duties), and potentially clear the Democratic primary (although it seems like fellow candidate John Bohlinger is someone who isn’t easily persuaded to get out of a race).

At a minimum, Walsh — as an appointed senator — basically moves this race from Lean Republican to Toss Up.

This is a time-honored tradition of political gamesmanship, but one that I’m not sure will be adequate next year. In a normal election cycle, such humble benefits may be a difference-maker. In this one — which Republicans would be wise to make a national referendum on ObamaCare —it may not be enough to get it done. True, Montana often elects Democrats (though it consistently votes Republican in presidential races), but it’s a fundamentally conservative state. If there’s any year they’re going to look at Democrats with a jaundiced eye, it will be 2014. Republicans, of course, still need a viable candidate, but this is going to be tough sledding for the left.

This appointment shows us two things: (1) The Obama Administration is far too careless in making its foreign policy appointments and (2) they’re already scared to death of what the 2014 midterm elections will look like. The first is regrettable. The second may represent some rare interaction between this administration and reality.

April 23rd, 2013 at 1:52 pm
Dem Senator Retires After Calling ObamaCare “Train Wreck”

And now the other shoe drops.

Less than a week after telling HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that her implementation of ObamaCare’s costly and confusing health care system is a “train wreck,” U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) announces he’s retiring.

Baucus’s comments caused a stir because they met the Washington, D.C. definition of a gaffe – telling the truth in public.  With the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and lead ObamaCare author, on record as criticizing the President’s signature policy, it looked like it might finally be acceptable for Democrats in Congress to admit the obvious: ObamaCare is a disaster in the making.

But rather than stick around and fight to reform the law, Baucus is choosing to bow out of a tough reelection campaign in 2014. The decision could make it much easier for Republicans to pick up the seat, potentially adding another vote to the conservative-led repeal caucus.

Whatever the spin, this much is clear. Last week Baucus let it be known he could no longer defend the law. Now, it’s clear he can’t win with it either.

Hopefully, it’s the start of a trend.

March 1st, 2012 at 5:21 pm
Democrats: Tax Relief Requires Campaign Contributions
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A nefarious trend coming out of Washington, as reported by Politico:

Democrats on K Street are warning their corporate clients: Give to Republican challengers in the 2012 election, and you’ll regret it come tax reform time.

Lobbyists are getting that message from allies of powerful Democrats such as Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who is closely watching support for Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican challenging Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). Baucus supporters fear that if Rehberg ousts Tester, Baucus could be next to face a serious Republican challenge in the state.

One K-Streeter close to the Baucus operation said the senator considers a gift to Rehberg a contribution against him. Another Democratic lobbyist told a client to take his name off a Rehberg fundraising event because it would be hurtful to his company, according to sources.

The case K-Streeters are making to their clients: It will be a hard sell next year to get Baucus’s support on business-friendly tax perks set to expire or the Bush-era tax cuts that must get through his committee.

Old D.C. hands that they are, the folks at Politico are quick to note that this is routine procedure on Capitol Hill, where the nexus between campaign contributions and favorable policy outcomes is an implicit rule of the game. That’s all true, of course, and Republicans have committed precisely these kinds of sins in the past. It doesn’t follow, however, that we have to accept it.

One of the most heartening aspects of the rise of the Tea Party has been the fact that there is now a powerful political coalition organized around a philosophy rather than a pecuniary interest. That philosophy is stripping power from Washington. And it’s precisely what’s needed here.

These kind of abuses are a powerful argument for the sagacity of a flat tax. Conservatives generally tend to focus on the economic benefits of a single income tax rate (which, because it eliminates so many distortions, are legion), but they may not pay enough attention to its virtues as a matter of political science. Having a single, across-the-board rate would keep politicians from turning the tax code into a byzantine apparatus meant to subsidize their friends and persecute their enemies. At that point, our elected officials might actually have to find an alternative to scaring their constituents into submission.

December 2nd, 2009 at 12:39 pm
Democrat Admits Health Bill Costs $2.5 Trillion
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Senator Max Baucus caught some of Joe Biden’s foot-in-mouth disease today when he admitted the Senate health care bill would cost $2.5 trillion, far more than what CBO estimated and propoents of the legislation have been touting.  Taxpayers should be thankful for Baucus’ loose lips.

The CBO cost estimate priced the Senate legislation at $848 billion, but that figure does not represent the full cost of the mandates on individuals and employers.  In addition, the bill masks the true cost of the legislation because it doesn’t begin to subsidize health care until 2014.

As Senator Baucus reveals, the true cost of the legislation over a 10-year period is much higher.

Just for a second … health care reform, whether you use a ten-year number or when you start in 2010 or start in 2014, whenever you start at, so it is still either $1 trillion or it’s $2.5 trillion, depending on where you start…

November 10th, 2009 at 6:04 pm
Cap-and-Trade: There’s No Such Thing As a Free Lunch

As Majority Leader Harry Reid scrambles to put together the pieces on his economy-busting health care “reform” bill, the Senate Finance Committee today began  hearings on that other job-killing legislation… Cap-and-Trade.

The Committee’s Ranking Member, Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), rightly used some of the time he had for opening remarks to remind his colleagues that unlike the Environment and Public Works Committee, which is controlled by some of the Senate’s most liberal members and which passed its version of a Cap-and-Trade energy tax last week, the Finance Committee’s job is to focus on the economic impact and costs of the legislation.

According to Roll Call, Grassley stated:

This committee’s expertise is in the costs and economic impacts of new taxes. It therefore has the relevant expertise for evaluating the costs associated with climate change legislation. An honest cost-benefit assessment requires that we first stop trying to sell this policy as if it will have no cost for Americans and accept the basic economic principle that there is no such thing as a free lunch.”

Acknowledging Grassley’s remarks, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) said:

While we must always be mindful of the cost of legislation, that’s particularly true in today’s economy. Our unemployment rate remains far too high. And we must be diligent to create jobs, including in the energy sector.”

Considering the federal government’s own estimates warn that the legislation would cost the U.S. economy far more jobs than it may create, wouldn’t the most diligent thing be for Baucus to scrap the idea of a Cap-and-Trade energy tax altogether?

October 28th, 2009 at 5:25 pm
You Just Can’t Make This Up: Charlie Rangel Targets Tax Evasion
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You just can’t make this stuff up.

Democrat Congressman Charlie Rangel, in conjunction with Senator Max Baucus (D – Montana) has introduced a bill targeting tax evasion by Americans, of all things.  And even more ironically, Rangel’s bill targets offshore tax evasion.

This is the same Charlie Rangel who shamelessly failed to report up to $780,000 of his own overseas income, and is currently attempting to dodge a thorough investigation into the matter.  Under his legislation, overseas bank customers would suffer a punitive 30% tax on income from domestic assets unless their banks agreed to disclose the identities of American customers and report their annual balances and account activities.  Proponents claim that it would raise some $8.5 billion more for spendthrifts like Rangel and his Congressional cohorts to waste away.

Here’s an alternative:  why not simply itemize the outstanding tax liabilities of Charlie Rangel, Tim Geithner and the rest of Congress and the Obama Administration?  Perhaps that would make $8.5 billion seem like peanuts by comparison.

October 26th, 2009 at 3:59 pm
Closed-Door Talks Produce Health Care Bill … Sort Of
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In the past two weeks, Senators Harry Reid and Max Baucus, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and other higher-ups in the administration have been behind closed doors crafting a government takeover of health care.

Senator Reid has been the chief architect of a plan to “meld” bills from the Health Education and Labor Committee and the Finance Committee.  Today, Reid emerged from his smoke-filled room with legislation that includes a so-called public option and a health care co-op.

This compromise between liberal Democrats and uber-liberal Democrats now heads to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which will attempt to put a price tag on the rag-tag, budget-busting piece of … legislation. The White House hopes this version of ObamaCare will be enough to garner at least 60 votes in the Senate.

Call Congress at 202-224-3121 and tell them to vote “No” on Senator Reid’s health care “compromise.” Click here for more details on the legislation.  Click here for CFIF’s coverage of the health care debate.

October 20th, 2009 at 3:32 pm
The Baucus Bill Gets Filed, All 1,502 Pages of It. Check With Your Doctor Before Reading

The Baucus Bill, passed by the Senate Finance Committee last week, has been written and filed… all 1,502 pages of it.  The public posting of the bill is, of course, after the Committee passed it without reading it.  After the absolute certainty that it isn’t going to be the bill on which the entire Senate votes.

You can read it here, but we wouldn’t recommend wasting your time.  Harry Reid and other members of “the most open and transparent Congress in history” are presently working behind closed doors with senior aides of “the most open and transparent Administration in history” to draft yet another version of ObamaCare that will ultimately be considered by the full Senate.   News reports indicate that a floor debate on the new, secret “reform” legislation could begin as early as next week.  But that all depends on whether the White House and Senate negotiators are able to buy off the docs and finish their other back-room wheelings and dealings by week’s end.  

Didn’t President Obama promise to air all health care reform negotiations on C-SPAN?

For all you policy junkies out there who just can’t resist, we must warn you that reading the Baucus Bill can cause severe anxiety, eye strain, sudden spikes in blood pressure, heart palpitations and chronic disgust in your government.  If you decide to proceed, it’s best you read it online rather than printing it off and carrying it over to that comfy Lazy Boy.  It’s still unclear whether hernia operations will be included on the final list of government-approved procedures covered by what is likely to be your new government-approved insurance plan.

October 13th, 2009 at 9:46 am
Cost of Health Care “Reform”
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Courtesy of the Washington Post, this illustrates that in spite of massive spending, in spite of new mandates and in spite of new insurance regulations, an average family of four could still end up paying over one-fifth of their income on health care costs under the Baucus Bill.


October 13th, 2009 at 9:16 am
Health Care Vote Today
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The Senate Finance Committee will vote today on the latest version of health care “reform,” the Baucus Bill.  Senator Baucus is expected to strike the gavel around 10:00 am (EST), with a vote expected later in the afternoon.

Make sure to call your Senator and tell them to vote “No” on the Baucus Bill.  The Congressional Switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

Here are the members of the Finance Committee, Senators that could decide the fate of health care in the U.S.

October 6th, 2009 at 9:16 am
Finance Committee Delays Vote
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Rarely does Congress ever get anything right.  Two weeks ago, the Senate Finance Committee decided to hold a vote on the Baucus Bill before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had a chance to put a price tag on the legislation.

Well, today the committee has decided that it should wait at least 24 hours before voting on the bill, in order to allow the CBO a chance to examine the legislation.  Most of the senators still haven’t read the entire monstrosity, but at least they’ll know the price tag.

October 5th, 2009 at 10:48 am
Shopping with Max Baucus
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Over the weekend, I had the misfortune of shopping in the same grocery store with the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus.  Senator Baucus is currently front-and-center in the debate over health care reform, and the bill that passes through his committee could be the final version that the President signs.


This was regrettably my second encounter with the senior Senator from Montana.  The first was on a flight out of Minneapolis.  The Senator, not surprisingly, was seated in first class.

During the Senator’s shopping experience I passed him in the wine section.  Chairman Baucus, like many shoppers, was in the French wine section of the store.  As capitalists, we can all appreciate the value of choice.  Senator Baucus believes that French wine is the best value for the price and no one should stop him from making that choice.  “Buy American” means little to Senator Baucus, even though his voting record might indicate otherwise.

For example, even though the Senator prefers choice in his wine purchasing, last week he denied Senator Ron Wyden’s health care free choice amendment from coming up for a vote in committee.  Senator Wyden’s amendment would have allowed consumers to shop across state lines for cheaper insurance.  For Senator Baucus, “choice for wine: yes; choice for health care: no, unless you’re paying me to vote otherwise.”

In addition, although Senator Baucus prefers foreign wine, he evidently doesn’t like foreign sugar.  In 2005, Senator Baucus voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).  CAFTA would have normalized trade relations with the Dominican Republic and other Central American countries, driving down prices for American consumers.  Yet, Senator Baucus chose to vote with the sugar industry in his home state of Montana (sugar beets) and deny consumers a chance to purchase lower-priced foreign imports.

So, when it comes to choice and competition, Senator Baucus enjoys the freedom of the market in his personal life, but he’ll do his best in Congress to ensure that you don’t have it in your life.  That’s hypocrisy, pure and simple.