Thursday, July 06, 2006

 

The Anti-Baucus Caucus

It has long been a mystery to me how the Democratic Party's activist base could target so much venom at my old boss Joe Lieberman for his deviations from party orthodoxy while ignoring the damaging deeds of Montana's Max Baucus, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

Even if you stipulate that Lieberman has undermined the party, which is a debatable proposition, nothing he has said or done on Iraq or any other issue has had anywhere near the tangible impact of Baucus' unforgivable sellout on the original Bush tax cut (which Lieberman strongly opposed from the beginning).

Few people remember this, but it was Baucus in 2001 who singlehandedly paved the way for the passage of the most unfair, lopsided, and fiscally-irresponsible piece of fiscal policy of at least the last half century. He is the one who threw the Democrats under the Rovian bus by cutting a colossally bad deal with the Administration early in the process, obliterating any chance of holding the party behind a unified position or leveraging meaningful changes.

In addition to putting the party in a huge political hole, Baucus helped decimate the country's fiscal stability, widen the growing gap in income inquality, and deplete the government of resources it needs to meet a range of big challenges that Democrats are hungry for action on -- such lowering the cost of health care, improving our public schools, and strengthening homeland security.

Thankfully, the New Republic is on the case. The magazine put out an excellent and long overdue editorial this week exposing Baucus as the Senate's "most dangerous Democrat," noting that he was in the process of selling out the party all over again on the estate tax fight, and calling for his ouster as the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee.

Here's the crux of their argument:

"There is something a bit troubling about the Democrats' current obsession with discipline, as though there were no higher aspiration than matching the ruthless efficiency of the House Republicans. A political party is not the same as a Third World liberation movement. It ought to accommodate moments of dissent and occasional deviations from the party line without the forms of retribution that have recently taken hold in the liberal blogosphere.

"But apostasy comes in gradations: There is heterodoxy, and then there is Montana Senator Max Baucus. Baucus isn't in the mold of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who flirted with reasonable ideas taboo among Democratic constituencies. He doesn't take quirky procedural stands, à la Russ Feingold. He's not even a Zell Miller-like figure who rhetorically strafes his party but does little substantive damage. What Baucus does is use his influence as the top Democrat on the Finance Committee to systematically undercut his party and enable George W. Bush's most egregious domestic legislation. So why does his party entrust him with so much responsibility.

"We were reminded of this question during this month's estate-tax debate. On one side was the vast majority of Republicans, who kvetch about the cosmic unfairness of taxing the top 1 percent of family fortunes. On the other side was the vast majority of Democrats, who see the estate tax as a reasonable, if modest, curb on the excesses of dynastic wealth. And in the middle was Baucus, an opponent of the tax, pushing a last-minute compromise that would dramatically scale it back. Baucus says he was trying to make the best of a difficult situation, since the tax will be reined in one way or another. But his compromise doesn't merely split differences; its price tag is nearly 70 percent of the cost of outright repeal, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. And it reveals precisely why Baucus shouldn't be in such a sensitive position: He understands statesmanship strictly in terms of the size of the concession he makes; the more he concedes, the more Churchillian he thinks he is."


I would like to see how the folks over at Daily Kos and MyDD and the other big liberal blogs respond, and how they can continue to reconcile their ongoing silence on Baucus with their vendetta against Lieberman.

Comments:
I spoke with Markos briefly and asked him why he didn't go after our local Lieberman-type Alan Boyd (Tallahassee). His first question was, if Boyd is defeated in a primary does the seat still go to a Democrat? You can do the math. Montana is a very different state than Conn. However, if you could get a good, progressive candidate who had a good shot of defeating Baucus and winning the general election, why not? Lieberman isn't the only national DINO.
 
I spoke with Markos briefly and asked him why he didn't go after our local Lieberman-type Alan Boyd (Tallahassee). His first question was, if Boyd is defeated in a primary does the seat still go to a Democrat? You can do the math. Montana is a very different state than Conn. However, if you could get a good, progressive candidate who had a good shot of defeating Baucus and winning the general election, why not? Lieberman isn't the only national DINO.
 
According to progressivepunch. Lieberman has a progessive score of 76.44 and according to American Conservative Union has a lifetime score of 17 which is identical to Tom Carper-DE another Blue State Democrat. How come Tom Carper is not getting a primary challenge.
 
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