Four Aftershocks of the Max Baucus-to-China News

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 18 2013 6:47 PM

Four Aftershocks of the Max Baucus-to-China News

187122528
Spare a thought for us back home once in a while, Max.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

1) Max Baucus is giving up the gavel of the Senate Finance Committee after years of working on/being undermined on tax reform. For a short while, it looked like his retirement announcement and the enthusiasm of House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp would combine, somehow, and push through the elusive 1986-style reform that everyone in the Senate claims to want. Within months, the momentum had faded, and Baucus was proposing ad hoc reforms to foreign earnings and energy taxes. Maybe he'd get another crack at at full reform in 2014? No. Now, he won't.

2) Next in line to run the Finance Committee is West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, another old bull who's retiring—and who already heads the Commerce Committee. After Rockefeller there's Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a nearly 20-year Senate veteran who has dreamed up his own, less lobbyist-influenced versions of tax reform. Does Wyden take the gavel? My sources say he's inclined to. But Wyden's got five years on the next Democrat in the queue, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, and as quixotic as Wyden can be, the left's got to prefer his brand of politics to Schumer's mind meld with the financial industry.

Advertisement

3) Like I said, Baucus was already giving up his seat. Montana's current lieutenant governor, John Walsh, got into the race to replace him, on the prodding of national Democrats. The LG once removed, John Bohlinger, stayed in the race anyway, running to the left on health care (single-payer now!) and privacy (a constitutional amendment to bar mass domestic surveillance). Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, could appoint Walsh and give him seniority to run on, but that risks the appearance of favoritism. Plus, the argument can be made that Walsh, the former National Guard commander in Montana, is a better candidate as a pure outsider than as a senator who has to—shudder—vote on things.

4) This hardly matters, but the Baucus news steps on headlines former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer might have gotten for his speech to Iowa Democrats. Schweitzer, one of the most quotable men with "D" after his name, has kept up a steady schedule of media interviews that usually involve him browbeating Hillary Clinton or the city of Washington for being "corporatist" or generally horrible.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 8:07 AM The Dark Side of Techtopia
  Life
Quora
Oct. 2 2014 8:27 AM How Do Teachers Kill the Joy of Reading for Students?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 2 2014 7:30 AM What Put the Man in the Moon in the Moon?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?