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  Comments (0) Total Wednesday Apr. 16, 2014
Baucus Backlash
Tough Words from the Left
Another week, another raft of increasingly tough articles about Sen. Max Baucus, particularly on the left. I'm a little late to pick this up, but Matthew Frank of the Missoula Independent reported a comprehensive profile in last week's edition, which includes some frank assessments by Montana political observers as to whether he is up to the job of pulling off health care overhaul legislation.

"I think we've reached a juncture, probably in history, where there's a difference between hard work and leadership," says Dave McAlpin, a member of the Montana House of Representatives who worked on Baucus' re-election campaign in 1990 and in his Bozeman office from 1992 to 1995. "Mike Mansfield passed historic legislation because of his leadership ability. And Max needs to exhibit that he can bring this issue to the fore and get a good bill passed to solve an enormous problem—probably the biggest policy problem and issue of our time—through leadership, not just hard work. I think it's too soon to tell whether Max will be successful."

Also interesting is a blog post on Left in the West by Jay Stevens, where he wonders whether Baucus' apparent decision to ditch the so-called "public option" from the Senate Finance Committee version of the bill could end up making whatever legislation emerges from his committee less relevant to the end product.

It garnered him a lot of negative publicity, endangered his chair of the Finance Committee, and likely caused him to lose his position as the central driver of health care reform. If you want to see what kind of legislation we'll get, you don't look to Baucus anymore, you look to the House. And it'll be the Conference Committee - not the Senate Finance Committee - that shapes the bill for the Senate.

And I'm guessing that Baucus and his staff don't even realize that the rug has been pulled out from underneath them.
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