Baucus move puts politics ahead of tax reform

Let's face it, nominating Sen. Max Baucus to be ambassador to China was a political move, fair and square. By trying to temporarily fill a seat with a Democratic candidate, appointed by a Democratic governor, the White House team knew it could improve the party's chances of holding on to Baucus's seat in Montana and stopping a GOP majority in the Senate.

By moving Baucus out early — he had already announced his retirement — not only does a Democrat arrive before the election to settle in and increase his advantage, but also the shift Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) would make from the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to the chairmanship of the Finance Committee means vulnerable Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) would rise to the chairmanship of the powerful energy panel with jurisdiction over critical energy and resource issues facing her state.

Unfortunately, Baucus's early departure would seriously hinder any chance of passing tax reform in 2014. Though the prospects were far less than bright any way, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has said it is a high priority. And both Baucus and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, have worked earnestly together to try to get reform off the ground in the 113th Congress. It is the only way — the only one — in which our long-term deficits and debt can be addressed as long as the government is controlled by the two parties and divided.

If Team Obama desperately wanted tax reform in 2014, they couldn't let Baucus go.

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