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Tags: Max Baucus

Daines: ‘Washington Needs Some Montana Common Sense’



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Representative Steve Daines, the Republican candidate for Senate in Montana, unveiled his first ad today. The 2014 Senate race is considered one of the GOP’s best opportunities to pick up a currently Democrat-held seat.

Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat, is expected to be confirmed as U.S. ambassador to China today. There is a great deal of speculation that Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, will pick the leading Democratic Senate candidate, Steve Walsh, to replace Baucus once the seat is vacant, making Walsh a quasi-incumbent and giving him a bit of an advantage on Election Day 2014.

Even with that twist, Daines has some serious advantages. The Republican led the one poll conducted so far by 15 points and has raised about three times as much money as Walsh. Daines won a statewide race for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat in 2012, 53 percent to 42 percent.

“Running for office is one big job interview,” Daines begins. After running through his biography, he concludes, “Washington needs some Montana common sense.”

Tags: Steve Daines , Max Baucus

Exit Baucus, Enter Schweitzer?



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Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat who declared Obamacare a “train wreck” and voted against the Toomey-Manchin background-check proposal, will retire instead of running for reelection in 2014.

I suppose some Democrats will insist Baucus did this because he feared the consequences of opposing gun control and standing with the NRA . . . in Montana.

I’m hearing some GOP pessimism, as they fear Governor Brian Schweitzer will run instead. But Schweitzer will face the same questions as any red-state Democrat: Does he think Obamacare is a “train wreck”? Would he have opposed Toomey-Manchin?

And Schweitzer’s colorful personality may create other complications, with past comments like, “I am not goofy enough to be in the House, and I’m not senile enough to be in the Senate.”

“Schweitzer for Senate 2014: Because senility has finally kicked in.”

Two Republicans have already announced Senate bids: state representative Richard Champion “Champ” Edmunds Jr. and former state senator Corey C. Stapleton.

Tags: Max Baucus , Brian Schweitzer , Champ Edmunds , Corey Stapleton

Amnesia-Stricken Max Baucus Becomes Loud Obamacare Critic



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Everybody’s mind is on the quickly-developing manhunt in Massachusetts, but the Morning Jolt will arrive today, keeping an eye on the much-less dramatic political stuff:

Max Baucus: I Can’t Wait to Find The Jerks Who Passed Obamacare and Punish Them!

So this is how Congressional Democrats plan to deal with the coming mess that the implementation of Obamacare will create: pretend they had nothing to do with it, and blame the administration.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., scolded Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday over the implementation of President Obama’s health care law. Complaining about confused individuals and small businesses in his state and warning of a coming “train wreck,” at times Baucus sounded more like a Tea Partier than one of the key authors of the legislation that would become known as Obamacare. But his posture during the Finance Committee hearing is also a telling sign that Democrats up for reelection in 2014 are increasingly worried that mangled implementation could put their jobs in jeopardy.

In 2009, five different health care proposals made their way through the relevant committees in the House and Senate. The Finance Committee bill that Baucus authored was the closest to the finished product that Obama signed. Go back and look at Baucus’s bill, and you’ll see most of the law’s key components  there – taxes on insurers, drug companies, medical device manufacturers and high value health care plans; exchanges; the Medicaid expansion; IPAB. Also significant is what wasn’t in the Baucus bill – a public option, which had been a central component of the other proposals circulating through Congress, but was ultimately abandoned.

Rep. Mike Pompeo wrote, in member-to-member letter form, a pretty thorough smack-down of Baucus:

 I was stunned, and also saddened, to read of your complaint that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is doing an insufficient job informing the public about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.  My shock wasn’t because I disagreed: You’re right to say this legislation has led to great uncertainty for hard-working Americans, small business owners, and families.  No, I was shocked because youwrote this bill.  I was saddened because your acknowledgement of the harm caused by PPACA has come so late.

     Unlike you, the American people have opposed this law from the moment it was first introduced in Congress.  How hard was it to see that even the smartest government bureaucrats can’t competently plan something as complicated as America’s health-care sector?

     President Obama’s proposal to rescind the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments for 2014 is an admission that this law will not work as written.  The IRS is violating the clear language of this law by planning to spend more than half a trillion dollars and tax millions of employers and individuals without congressional authorization.

     No one in the country bears more responsibility for the complexity of this law than you.  

The next explanation from Baucus will probably be, “It wasn’t me! It was the one-armed man!”

But this illustration from Lachlan Markay says it all:

Tags: Max Baucus , Kathleen Sebelius , Mike Pompeo

How Much Influence Does Organizing for Action Have in Red States?



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If this really comes to pass, I will be surprised:

Jon Carson, executive director of Organizing for Action, told the Los Angeles Times / Tribune Washington Bureau on Thursday that the group will train its resources against the 45 senators who opposed the legislation, including Democrats Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

“What is happening right now is the reason that OFA needs to be here: to harness the energy and determination of people,” Carson said. “I think everyone would agree that the American people are on our side on this…. We need to show that the 90% on our side have staying power.”

“This is one of those moments where we have to prove that in the face of a setback we’re not backing down,” he added. “That’s the calculation that some senators were mistaken on…. The consequences they’re going to have to face are a bunch of angry constituents who are going to keep the issue alive.”

Carson said Organizing for Action will also demonstrate support for those who backed the measure, including the Republican co-sponsor, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.

“Our volunteers are ready to show Pat Toomey how much they appreciate his leadership,” he said.

The group plans to launch sustained campaigns in which constituents will call and tweet lawmakers, write letters to the editor and hold local events spotlighting their support for gun control. Its next major effort comes Saturday, when supporters are organizing rallies and other events in the states of key senators.

Calls and Tweets, letters to the editor, local rallies with mid-level attendance… eh, most incumbent senators don’t fear those actions, unless they come in overwhelming numbers. One of the big questions is just how many Organizing for Action members reside in Montana, Alaska, and Arkansas.

OpenSecrets.org compiled a sortable, downloadable list of the 1,428 donors who gave more than $250. They list four donors in Alaska, who contributed $1,375; four donors in Arkansas, who contributed $51,500; and three donors in Montana, who contributed $1,250. In Pennsylvania, the group lists 34 donors who contributed $12,888. As you might expect, those are small fractions compared to states like California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland.

As I wrote this morning, the rhetoric of the president and his supporters would suggest that the defeat of Baucus, Begich, and Pryor is a priority. But the real question will be whether any of their fury over yesterday’s vote translates into support for a pro-gun-control primary challenger. The filing deadline for a party candidate in Montana and Arkansas is March 2014; for Alaska the deadline is June 2014.

Tags: Organizing for Action , Mark Pryor , Mark Begich , Max Baucus

Gun Control Rhetoric Is For Show Without Primary Challenges



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Okay, gun control supporters, including President Obama. Let’s see if you’ll put your money where your mouth is.  If you’re so totally convinced by that 90 percent poll figure you keep throwing around, if you’re so utterly certain that your viewpoint represents the will of the American people, let’s see you back pro-gun-control challengers to the three Democrats who voted against the Toomey-Manchin compromise who are up for reelection in 2014: Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mark Begich of Alaska.

Because if you really believe that voting “no” on that proposal is the equivalent to voting for more dead children, you can’t say that it’s an utterly unforgivable act for the Republican senators but an understandable concession to public will for the Democrat senators.

(Well, you can, but that will just reveal that you’re partisan hacks, posturing opportunists who use the emotion of the Newtown horror as a cudgel against your Republican opponents, with no real principled opposition to their position, since it’s acceptable from a Red State Democrat.)

Here’s how Obama tried to thread the needle yesterday:

A  few minutes ago, 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate voted for that idea. But it’s not going to happen, because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea…

It came down to politics. They worried that that vocal minority of gun-owners would come after them in future elections. They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment. And obviously a lot of Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear, too. And so they caved to the pressure, and they started looking for an excuse, any excuse, to vote no.

If you really think that the only reason to not vote for the bill was shameless politics, you can’t later on tell us that Baucus, Pryor and Begich are good senators who deserve reelection. You can’t come to their states for fundraisers, and you can’t go to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee events where you know the cash will be used to try to keep them in office. You can’t mobilize Organizing for Action to pull out all the stops to keep them in office, because you prefer a ‘D’ who votes for more dead children (your rhetoric, not mine) over an ‘R’ who would cast the same vote.

Of course, there’s almost no chance Obama or the DSCC or OFA will take these steps. Bloomberg’s groups may throw money at pro-gun control challengers, but that’s because they’ve got oodles of money; in all likelihood, they’ll help some no-name gun control advocate go from single-digit support in a Red State Democratic primary to double digits.

What yesterday’s vote demonstrated is that nobody really believes that a vote against the Toomey-Manchin compromise is the moral equivalent to voting for more dead children. And that all of this hyperventilating on camera is empty rhetoric.

Tags: Gun Control , Barack Obama , Max Baucus , Mark Pryor , Mark Begich

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