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Senator Baucus on the Debt Super Committee?

The Hill is reporting that Senator Max Baucus is a leading candidate for the new, super-duper, extra-special, deficit-reducing squad created by last week’s debt deal, while the Huffington Post is saying he’s less likely to be chosen:

The major contenders to be selected by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.):

* Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) – Finance Committee chairman has jurisdiction over entitlement programs and he served on the Simpson-Bowles commission. The Huffington Post, however, reported on Monday that Baucus is unlikely to be tapped.

I think Senator Reid should remember that Baucus bears some of the responsibility for the mess we’re in now, being one of the Democratic cheerleaders for the Bush tax cuts that are primarily responsible for the current deficit.

I don’t have much faith that this new, second super committee to address the long-term debt will accomplish much, but Democrats can’t afford a vote for more fiscal irresponsibility when it comes to tax policy. Baucus’s intentions may be better these days, but his instinct to run to the center (no matter how far right that is) would be very dangerous on a committee like this.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • If Baucus were to run to the center, he’d be running to the left.

    As to whether or not the super committee will accomplish much, it will accomplish the most if it does nothing. Triggers, remember. The dirty work has already been accomplished.

    And on what do you base your notion that ” Baucus’s intentions may be better these days”? I sure don’t see it.

    • Tell ’em, JC. Tell it like it is. Max is opportunism personified; and will make of this assignment precisely what he made of healthcare reform–or any number of assignments he has been given. Reid is possibly the most ineffectual leader since LBJ stood down and attached his cords to that man from Montana…

  • I think that he has articulated a more sensible position on the Bush tax cuts than he did, previously, for instance. It’s not a huge step, but he expressed skepticism about the wisdom of extending them for the wealthiest Americans. That’s something.

    • I take “rticulated a more sensible position” to mean he talked about it, and wrote some legislation. But where did that get us? We had a lame duck Congress strongly stacked towards the dems, and Baucus ended up voting for a bill that extended those tax breaks for the rich for another two years.

      He may “articulate” a more populist position, but I haven’t seen Baucus actually push a populist provision on anything through Congress in a long time. And those tax breaks are scheduled to expire next year. Will he be forced into voting to extend them again? Somehow I don’t see the right allowing a bill to just extend middle class tax breaks through Congress. That will be the next hostage crisis: not allowing middle class tax breaks to be extended unless the rich get theirs too.

      Wish that I were wrong, but I don’t know how the dynamics are going to change, especially during an election. And a lame duck session with the House in control won’t allow it either. Maybe the debt commission will change the playing field, but I don’t see how they’re going to get any revenues through it with a 6-6 makeup. It’s destined to either fail (triggers take effect) or will only accomplish whatever the tea party allows its rep members to do. They’ve been totally emboldened by dems failure at the negotiating table.

  • Baucus was a key swing vote for the original Bush tax cuts. The super committee will fizzle into vapor. They can’t put off the jobs issue much longer, which makes the fake debt crisis old news.

  • Well, Baucus’ interview with the IR editorial board showed him backpedaling on his tax stance on the rich already:

    “[Baucus] noted that the Bush tax cuts also are set to expire at the end of 2012, and if Congress wants to prevent that from happening, it would need to reach some sort of bargain – hopefully one that reforms the tax code to make it simpler, better for the economy, and able to generate the revenue needed to put the country’s fiscal house in order.

    “Part of the solution here is reforming the tax code,” he said. “It’s possible the perfect (political) storm is going to develop in January 2013.”

    So he’s willing to keep the tax breaks for the rich in exchange for tax reform. Whoopie,

    He noted that the Bush tax cuts also are set to expire at the end of 2012, and if Congress wants to prevent that from happening, it would need to reach some sort of bargain – hopefully one that reforms the tax code to make it simpler, better for the economy, and able to generate the revenue needed to put the country’s fiscal house in order.

  • In the same piece, though, he does acknowledge that there will need to be revenue generated in any deal–and I think it’s pretty clear that Democrats will push for increased revenue from those making over $250,000 before they ask for more money from the middle class.

    Baucus is not the person I would have chosen for the committee, certainly, but I think it’s plausible that he will push for maintaining the Bush tax cuts for the middle class. That’s actually pretty sensible policy during a recession.

    • I don’t know about anybody else, but I think reforming the tax code in a 12 person super committee is a terrible idea.

      If you want a real tax revolt in this country, let 12 people decide how the tax code is going to be reformed without going through the regular order.

      Anybody want to bet that those 12 people’s campaign coffers are going to be filled to the brim in the next few months?

  • Does anybody, anywhere, remember there are lower classes than the middle, who’re very involved in this dogs’ breakfast we are calling politics..?

    • Yeah. I do. I actually think that helping to lift people out of poverty and preventing people from falling into it should be the most important American domestic policy.

      I’m worried that very few people in Congress see that, but I’m not sure that this post suggested I don’t care about the lower class.

  • Here’s another huge problem with what Baucus said yesterday:

    “Baucus indicated that without some revenue “balance” in the final proposal, he wouldn’t support cutting entitlement programs like Social Security.”

    Put another way, Baucus just offered to trade cuts in Social Security for some additional revenue. Ghastly scenario. Let the Great Unravelling begin.

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