Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., bowed to the realities of his 2014 run for reelection when he voted against the budget resolution from Senate Democrats last week, lobbyists and experts say.
The Hill reports Baucus broke with leadership and the majority of his caucus by voting against a budget framework that would raise nearly $1 trillion in new revenues.
Baucus’ vote is being viewed as a sign that he finds himself hemmed in by his reelection bid in Republican-leaning Montana even as he attempts to spearhead tax reform efforts in the Senate.
Campaign politics clearly played a role in Baucus' decision, as it did with the three other Democrats who voted “no” and face reelection next year — Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
“He is in cycle,” said Bill Hoagland, a former GOP budget staffer in the Senate.
“Voting for raising revenues would definitely be used against him even if nothing happened on tax reform.”
Tax lobbyists and other observers said the budget vote revealed a rift between Baucus and Democratic leadership over revenue, and brought to a head weeks the fact that he failed to move his party’s budget to a more centrist position on taxes.
That dynamic, experts say, could make it that much harder for Baucus to represent Democrats in tax negotiations, and give him less leverage at a time when Republicans in the House are pressing for revenue-neutral tax reform.
“I think Baucus is in a tough position,” one tax lobbyist said.
“If he doesn’t move, he will be accused of dragging his feet and not moving the ball.”
“If he does do something, he has to answer for it,” the lobbyist added.
“For Baucus, keeping things the way they are through 2014 may be the best option.”
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