Baucus move puts politics ahead of tax reform

Let's face it, nominating Sen. Max BaucusMax BaucusChina moves to lift ban on US beef Overnight Healthcare: Zika fight stalls government funding talks | Census finds big drop in uninsured | Mental health bill faces wait Glover Park Group now lobbying for Lyft MORE 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 WydenRon WydenOvernight Tech: TV box plan faces crucial vote | Trump transition team to meet tech groups | Growing scrutiny of Yahoo security Overnight Regulation: Supporters push for TV box reforms ahead of vote Dems urge FCC to approve new box rules MORE (D-Ore.) would make from the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to the chairmanship of the Finance Committee means vulnerable Sen. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuLouisiana needs Caroline Fayard as its new senator La. Senate contender books seven-figure ad buy Crowded field muddies polling in Louisiana Senate race MORE (D-La.) would rise to the chairmanship of the powerful energy panel with jurisdiction over critical energy and resource issues facing her state.

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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 RyanPaul RyanOvernight Finance: Senate, House strike deal on Flint | Shutdown averted | Yellen defends Fed from Trump Overnight Healthcare: Zika funding nears finish line | House expected to approve spending bill tonight | New pledge to push medical cures bill House passes waterways bill with Flint aid MORE (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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