By Erik Wasson - 04/23/11 10:20 PM EDT
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus is the only member of the Biden gang to have served on the president’s fiscal commission and tellingly he voted against its plan. He said the spending cuts were too deep and it left tax loopholes in place.
Baucus is the Senate gatekeeper on tax and entitlements.
“I have studied the Deficit Commission recommendations at length – and I can tell you they are wrong for Montana and wrong for rural communities across the country. Reducing our federal deficit is imperative, but we cannot cut the deficit at the expense of veterans, seniors, ranchers, farmers and hard-working families,” Baucus said in December.
“The Deficit Commission recommendations would cut pensions for military members, lower Social Security payments, raise the retirement age and limit Medicare benefits. Cuts like that hit rural America the hardest because we proudly have more veterans and seniors than most other states.
He also blasted recommendations to impose a gas tax and cut farm subsidies.
“At the same time, the Commission recommendations do not take any aggressive steps to crack down on corporations that hide their money overseas to avoid paying their taxes,” he said.
At an April 13 hearing on the deficit, Baucus outlined his criteria for a plan.
He emphasized that cuts must not come so soon that they hurt the economic recovery.
“First, everything must be on the table. Our deficit challenges are simply that significant. Second, we should not scapegoat Social Security... Third, any deficit reduction package should be balanced. In general, the package should not be tilted too much towards spending cuts or too much toward revenue increases... And fourth, spending cuts do not necessarily mean benefit cuts. We have to stretch our administrative dollars further and make our programs more efficient," Baucus said.
On the last point, Baucus has blasted the GOP's 2012 House budget resolution which proposes to convert Medicare to a type of voucher system.
“I won’t stand by and let the House end Medicare and hand our seniors’ and retired military service members health over to private insurance companies,” he said on the Senate floor."
Baucus is more enthusiastic about tax reform, another piece of the deficit reduction pie.
“We need to work together to reform and simplify our tax system in a way that creates more American jobs, makes our country more competitive and bolsters our economy in a fair way,” he said in reaction to this year’s State of the Union.