Baucus Retires, a Grateful Nation Cheers
With one glorious stroke Max Baucus has made it possible for two of America’s more interesting politicians to play bigger roles on the national stage. Not to be churlish, but I’ll take Ron Wyden and Brian Schweitzer over a dozen Max Baucii any day. Never has a politician done so much to lift the prospects of the republic simply by saying goodbye.
Is there a soul outside Montana who is mourning Baucus’s decision not to run for a seventh term? Baucus helped George W. Bush pass his big tax cuts in 2001, making him an accomplice in the biggest fiscal mistake of this generation, squandering the hard-won surpluses that Bill Clinton (with Newt Gingrich’s help) had bequeathed.
Then weeks ago, Baucus kept a bad thing going by voting against the new budget crafted by Senate Democrats, saying it raised too much revenue (even though its taxes wouldn’t suffice to cover what Ronald Reagan spent as a share of the economy decades ago). When talk turns to tax reform, Baucus, again, has repeatedly refused to concede that when the dust clears from any “simplification” or “base broadening,” revenue has to rise in an aging America. This is the fantasy of math and demography that Republicans persist in embracing.
“His guiding principle has been to get reelected,” says one former Senate staffer, “not to lead and to educate.”