Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Five opinions on Baucus appointment to "super committee"

Posted By on Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 10:40 AM

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) named three Democratic senators to the new congressional committee charged with reducing the debt, and Montana's Max Baucus earned one of the nods. He joins former presidential nominee John Kerry and Washington state's Patty Murray. Nine others —three Republican senators, three Republican representatives and three Democratic representatives — will be named to the committee in the coming days.

Since this committee is tasked with such an impossible enormous task, everyone has an opinion on the first names to make the list. Here are five takes on Baucus being included:

1. "Rarely hardly participated." Former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson is not a fan. He went after Baucus on MSNBC this morning, as reported by Politico:

“It’s tough to watch,” said Simpson, who co-chaired the president’s deficit reduction committee with former Clinton aide Erskine Bowles.

“Max Baucus was on our commission, and it was very, very uncomfortable, because Max — who’s my neighbor to the north, and we came into the Senate together — rarely hardly participated in our commission activities and he was a member.”

“He’s chairman of the Finance Committee and feels a competition with Kent Conrad, which is not good, because Conrad moves and does things, and Max is just holding back,” Simpson said. “He didn’t come to many of our meetings. And when he did, he simply said we have to collect taxes that we haven’t collected, and he’s talking about balance and this and that, but I say to my friend Max, boy, I don’t know how helpful that’s going to be.”

2. Plan B. Huffington Post originally stuck its neck out and said Baucus wouldn't get chosen. Then he did. Reporter Sam Stein admitted some "egg on my face" in a Tweet, but added, "source says: ‘He wasn’t first choice. Others declined.’”

3. History. Politico also speculated about Max's effectiveness based on his past.

By choosing Baucus, Reid may unnerve some liberals who have been skeptical of the Montana Democrat’s deal-making with Republicans over the years. But Baucus also has held the party line on raising revenues and attacking GOP budget plans to overhaul Medicare, a role he played in the budget talks with Vice President Joe Biden.

4. Money matters. The Atlantic decided to focus on influence.

What separates Baucus from Murray and Kerry is his breakdown of contributors by individuals or PACs. 92 percent of Kerry's contributions came from individuals. For Murray, 72 percent came from individuals. Baucus, however has much more money coming in from PACs: a 50/50 split.

5. Meh. The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus says Reid took the "path of least resistance." But she needled Baucus in explaining why.

Baucus is the chairman of the Finance Committee — hence the least resistance part — and was the only Democratic senator on the Simpson-Bowles commission who did not support the final product. His reservations put parochial concerns — he cited the impact of Medicare cuts on Montanans, trimming agriculture subsidies and raising the gas tax, among other concerns — over the greater good. “Wrong for Montana and wrong for rural communities across the country,” Baucus said at the time. “We cannot cut the deficit at the expense of veterans, seniors, ranchers, farmers and hard-working families.”

Forget meh. Substitute oy.

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