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Sunday, June 11, 2006

MT-Sen: Is Max Baucus Going to Get Primaried in 2008?

It certainly wouldn't surprise me and would be a great thing for Montana Democrats:

It's the same thing over and over again with Baucus. William Greider at the Nation calls Baucus "Senator Sellout" for his constant willingness to support the GOP, against the interests of progressives, and even his own state. Whether it is weak support for abortion rights, his support of the punitive Bankruptcy Bill, his selllout to big pharmaceuticals for Medicare Part D, or the Bush tax cuts, Baucus is seems so afraid of the shadow of the right wing that he can never stand for himself, or for the values of the Democratic Party. His support for a repeal of the estate tax is another egregious example:

Behind the scenes, the action has been on the Democratic side in the Senate, as the party's leadership has sought to dissuade Montana's Max Baucus, ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, from forging a halfway-house compromise with Kyl that would deplete revenue by only $500 billion to $600 billion during that decade. The Republicans would need Baucus to bring roughly a half-dozen Democrats along with him to reach the magic number of 60 votes required to overcome any filibuster that the vast majority of Democrats would mount to block any such measure.

Even a paltry $500 billion, of course, is a lot of money to drain from public coffers just when boomers are going onto Social Security and Medicare and the number of employers providing health insurance, if present trends continue, might have dropped to a virtuous handful. To cover those and other needs, Congress will either plunge us deeper into debt or increase some other levies -- payroll taxes, say -- that will come out of the pockets of the 99 percent of Americans whom the estate tax doesn't touch....

Why any Democrat would back such a measure, however, is a deep mystery. From the policy standpoint, it would make it vastly more difficult both to shore up programs that Democrats believe need shoring up -- better educating the nation's children, for one -- and to get the nation's fiscal house in order., health care, the deficit...or huge, tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest .3%? 25 Montana estates would benefit annually from the repeal of the estate tax. That shouldn't be a tough decision for anyone, much less someone who claims to be a Democrat.

We've had this discussion before, about Baucus's failure to stand up for reproductive rights during the Alito hearings. Then, I was called out by a MT-Dem operative, because Baucus has a 100% rating from NARAL, and told that I should move to San Francisco if I wanted an idealistic Senator. Frankly, I just want one who isn't a Republican half of the time. I want one who stands for what he believes in, and is willing to take the risks involved in leading others to see new ways of looking at the world. I want one who will put the interests of Montana families-gay and straight--ahead of the interests of the Waltons, Big Pharma, and bigots. Jon Tester is the kind of Democrat that Montanans and the country need.

Look, we all need to be putting our energy into getting rid of Conrad Burns this fall, and I support that 100%. But, when 2008 rolls around, Montana Democrats need to look at an alternative. Ned Lamont is currently showing that progressives can challenge the muddling midlde of moderate Democrats in his race against Joe Lieberman, Brian Schweitzer demonstrated that progressive Democrats can win in Montana.

Either Max isn't as progressive as these two leaders, or he's so political that he compromises his values all the time. We deserve better.

The great thing about Lamont's campaign is that it is sending a clear signal to people like Baucus to stop acting like such a jackass. If Baucus doesn't get the message, that might be a sign he has been in DC too long. Which he has. Hopefully, Baucus will resign so that Schweitzer can appoint somebody and help Democrats hold the seat, if not I hope somebody steps up to take him on.

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