Max Baucus is retiring. I’m beginning to think that by the time 2014 rolls around that every Democratic senator will have decided to retire. Jamelle Bouie at the Plum Line blog says that even though Montana is a conservative state, the Democrats have a good chance of keeping the seat because former governor Brian Schweitzer will likely run for the seat. He also cautions liberals from freaking out about Baucus’ announcement. Why would they do that? Well, Baucus voted against the gun bill. So many will likely question why he didn’t vote for it if he wasn’t going to be facing re-election.
Bouie argues that Baucus was likely just doing what he thought his constituency wanted. I agree with him that we shouldn’t get any more upset at Baucus than we already are, but for a different reason. The problem with politicians who make it to the national level is that they have become so used to compromise that they no longer have the original ideals that got them to go into politics in the first place. I’ve argued that President Obama really wants to cut entitlements and that it isn’t just a political maneuver. Well, Baucus is almost certainly the same way. His A+ NRA rating isn’t from pandering; the pandering is who he is.
There is a more fundamental problem with Bouie’s contention that Baucus is just doing the work of his constituency: he doesn’t seem to care about his constituency when it comes to economic matters. For example, he repeatedly voted to make bankruptcy harder for individuals. He’s for the elimination of the estate tax. He was in favor of the Bush tax cuts which primarily benefited the rich. He’s against getting rid of tax incentives for companies that move jobs overseas. He was against single-payer healthcare reform. And his delaying tactics hurt the reform that we did get. All of these things have cost the poor and middle classes huge amounts of money. Baucus is not a man who cares about his constituency, unless you consider his constituency the very rich.
As I’ve noted in the past, it is unfair to complain when red state Democrats are conservative. Just the same, when it comes to issues like bankruptcy and corporate welfare, I don’t see a groundswell of resistance. But when proto-fascists like Dianne Feinstein from blue states are for the Bush tax cuts and the elimination of the estate tax, it is no wonder that red state Democrats feel no pull to vote for liberal economic policies.
Still Baucus has generally been a good team player for the Democratic Party. (It’s the Democratic Party that is the problem.) If his seat goes to a Republican, it will be a bad thing.
Update (23 April 2013 5:33 pm)
Chris Hayes on All In just said almost exactly what I did here.