Posted: December 20, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Baucus Staffers Depart; the Door Revolves

The National Journal today reports that Max Baucus is losing staff at a rapid pace.  How this exodus bears on the odds of a Baucus re-election in 2014 is anybody’s guess.

But we know how ordinary tax-paying citizens are faring.

His chief-of-staff has announced that he’s leaving to take a job with a “strategic intelligence firm.”  Strategic intelligence firms are companies that use all sorts of channels, and sometimes espionage-like techniques, to get valuable information for which Wall Street investors will pay a king’s ransom.  This is not “insider information” per se; it’s all legal, due to shady loopholes in the law.   And one such type of “intelligence” is the advance notice, beloved by hedge funds and other Wall Street bigwigs, of how Congress might act on a matter under consideration.   Someone with inside knowledge of how a vote is going to turn out, or whether an amendment will live or die, or even what type of language will be inserted into a bill, can sell this information to an investor who can then trade on the information (sell certain defense contractor stocks, for example, if it looks like Congress is about to vote to cut funding for fighter jets).  And “intelligence firms” have made an industry out of gathering this type of up-to-the-minute information on bill status.  60 Minutes did an excellent piece on this scam, and you should watch it. We don’t know for certain that Max’s chief-of-staff will be doing this type of stuff, but it’s hard to imagine that he won’t be.  Its not lobbying, either.  It’s not asking anything of congress other than information.

And another top aide, Baucus’s tax expert on the Finance Committee who shuattled back and forth between Congress and the private sector for many years, is going private once again. Don’t be surprised if he ends up at a company that has benefited handsomely from tax breaks given out by the finance committee over the years.

It’s important to understand that this profit-making careerism has enormous negative repercussions for average Americans.  Tax breaks for major corporations (the chief currency for revolving door specialists) come at the expense of ordinary taxpayers, who must make up the difference to fund government.   Similarly, if you are a person of ordinary means and own stock in a company, any advance notice about some decision that your elected representative might take that will affect the price of your stock should be as available to you as it is to an investment banker who hires snoops to troll around Congress.

18 comments

  1. Publius II

    It’s too bad about Max’s first ‘wishy-washy’ response to the machine-gun massacre at Sandy Hook, and will staffers migrate to the NRA? I hope not, but if JOE MANCHIN, ‘DINO’ of W. VA and Casey in PA can express their grave concerns, then what about Max? Jon Tester’s made a good start and the moment to act is NOW, not wait for a fancy committee – like 9/11 – that accomplished NOTHING. At least BAN high-capacity clips, armor-piercing ammunition (how many deer wear body armor, huh?) and close gun show loopholes and require background checks. NO self-respecting hunter needs more than two-three rounds to get their prey, and black-powder muzzle-loading fans do it with ONE.

  2. Matthew Koehler

    http://www.allgov.com/news/appointments-and-resignations/author-of-obamacare-blueprint-rewarded-with-job-at-johnson–johnson-121221?news=846548

    Elizabeth “Liz” Fowler was chief health policy counsel to U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana), who helped spearhead the charge for healthcare reform on Capitol Hill. While Baucus was often the public face during the legislative battle, it was Fowler who actually drafted the mammoth plan that came to be known as “Obamacare.”

    Once the legislation was adopted, Fowler moved from Capitol Hill to the White House so she could help implement Obamacare as Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy at the National Economic Council.

    Fowler is now leaving that post to handle global health policy at Johnson & Johnson, one of the largest manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices in the country. Like other companies in the industry, Johnson & Johnson will increase their profits greatly thanks to the fact that Obama’s healthcare reform will provide insurance to tens of millions of Americans who will now being to purchase drugs and use medical devices.

    • Tragic City

      Obamacare is one of the biggest giveaways to the pharmaceutical industry ever. I’m not saying it doesn’t have some consumer protections in it like being able to keep your kids on your policy until they are 26. I’m just saying that the law gives the drug companies millions of new clients and billions in new revenue and the government doesn’t use that to negotiate a bulk price discount!

  3. Wonk

    Max isn’t running again. He’s going to get an appointment from Obama, probably a judge on the ninth circuit or commerce secretary.

    • Dennis Taylor

      I too have heard that Max is not running again, so why not lay off him. He has to pretend to be running to negotiate his appointment, but insiders have been saying he’s done for th past year or so. Lets focus on Steve Daines or Tim Fox– someone who we know we need to defeat electorally.

  4. James Conner

    Baucus is 71. Obama needs to appoint younger men as judges, and I think he will. Commerce? Possibly. If Baucus stays healthy, I think he’ll run again.

    • Pete Talbot

      I recently received an email invitation to a party for Max’s 71st birthday here in Missoula (suggested donations of $75 for individuals, $250 for sponsors and $500 for co-hosts). That and other fundraisers, mailers, email blasts and media hits sure make it look like he’s running again.

      Although why he wastes time with these smallish donations when he’ll be racking up millions from insurance, financial and pharmaceutical interests is beyond me.

      • Grandma Jeanie

        He has to pretend to be running on small donations so people hate him less. And he has to pretend to be running in order to negotiate for a cabinet position, judgeship, or ambassador post. The Obama administration doesn’t have to deal with him if he tells them he’s not running again.

    • Norma Duffy (@Ilikewoods)

      As Far as I know from his staff Max is running again. As far as the first and second amendment He and Tester voted against FISA, while Rehberg Voted for it…. Believe me the man you should hope doesn’t come back is Denny! If he does try to run for Governor our state will be split up and given to corporations…. He has already proved hes for doing just that with his 100 mile border Bill.

      There is no one to take Max’s place in the state who can command the Money and respect he has given the Democratic Party. You Progs are Hopelessly delusional if you think getting rid of him is the answer. Instead of arguing with him, why dont you ask him to get on Board of things that matter to you, I doubt one of you has spent as much time as I have talking to him and his staff. You want him to work with you grow up and ask for a change… get off your couch and ask like an adult!

  5. Dave Skinner

    I guess this is the opening salvo of the Dump Max for Brian campaign?
    Like BS will be any less corruporatistic?

  6. Pete Talbot

    Dollars to donuts: Max is running again. Obama will not appoint him to a cabinet post (the Prez already has too many old, white guys in the cabinet, and Max just doesn’t have the chops).

    And Rehberg taking another shot? The dude has a better vanishing act than George W. Bush. No, Denny will quietly resurface at some DC lobbying firm.

    My humble predictions, anyways.

  7. David

    2014 will be the year Max loses anyway. Max is bad on the 2nd Amendment. And Ombamacare with all those new taxes on folks, won’t make Max many friends except those making money off Obamacare. Were going off this Cliff and Obama dexcides Congress needs a raise. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a raise for doing nothing. (By executive order)

  8. Pingback: Sen. Maximus Cronius Baucus rewards ex-staffers with tax breaks for their clients – Is that what Montanans really want? | Citizens For Self Governance