At times infuriating his Democratic colleagues, Baucus worked with Republicans to co-write the Bush-era tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug plan, but he also served as the lead defender against George W. Bush’s 2005 effort to partially privatize Social Security and played a critical role in writing President Obama’s national health-care plan.
From conservative-leaning Montana, Baucus has voted against Democratic initiatives on some social issues, most recently last week’s effort to create an expanded background check system for gun purchases.
Despite Obama’s double-digit defeat in Montana, Democrats intend to vigorously defend the seat. The leading Democratic candidate is former governor Schweitzer, a popular figure who at times has feuded with Baucus over local political issues in the Big Sky state. In February, Schweitzer hinted at a potential run in a Facebook post.
The Baucus retirement also could have dramatic policy ramifications. No longer bounded by his own 2014 re-election, Baucus can now push for comprehensive tax reform without concerns about the political ramifications, his allies say.
He and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the term-limited chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, could jump-start tax reform with both men looking toward their legislative legacy rather than their political fallout within their respective caucuses.
At least Baucus is passing the baton early enough for Schweitzer to make a clean run, but we'll see if the popular former Governor is even going to take a crack at it. If he passes, the seat will almost certainly go to the GOP.
Having said that, Schweitzer would be better than Baucus on voting with progressive, surely. We'll see how it shakes out.