Baucus Dodges Reports That Fiscal Cliff Bill Benefited Former Staffers

'The main thing is to keep your eye on the ball.'


After a joint session of the Montana state legislature, Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) dodged questions from a report from the Washington Examiner that revealed a bill the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee passed in August was implemented in the final bill that avoided the fiscal cliff, which gave tax breaks to companies helmed by former aides to Baucus.

REPORTER: There have been some folks who have pointed that a number of appropriations for some of the tax breaks in the fiscal cliff bill are represented by former aides and staff members from your office.  Can you comment on that?
MAX BAUCUS: Well, no, look it, the main thing…the main thing is to keep your eye on the ball.  This is legislation, which, permanently prevented income taxes increases on virtually all Montanans.  Permanently prevented.  It’s legislation that permanently … uh…uh…raised exemptions on federal estate tax so the Montana farms, ranches and family owned companies like auto dealerships can be guaranteed that there will be no um, no increase federal estate tax that would jeopardize their operations.  Um…you know…as I mentioned in answering an earlier question, the provisions that passed were provisions that were the law for a long time , but had deadlines on them, like 18 months or a year, and most of them expired, some them expired at the end of last year and uh…again…bipartisan which it is all is, which wanted to extend these provisions that were enacted years and years ago.  This is nothing new. And we did reduce some of them by tens of billions of dollars.  My goal is to get rid of most of them that we can.  I’m hopeful during tax reform this year we would be able to eliminate even more.

Baucus has a reputation of successfully passing legislation that are pet projects of former staffers.

Most notably, Baucus was the lead sponsor of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative victory.  Obamacare was advanced largely through the efforts of former Obama deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, who was Baucus’s Chief of Staff before joining the White House.