Four Aftershocks of the Max Baucus-to-China News

Weigel
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

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 24 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Partial Solar Eclipse of October 2014
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.