Baucus and Citizens United

Gearing up for the 2014 election, Max Baucus has announced that he wants to overturn the Citizens’ United decision of the Supreme Court, the ruling that blew the door open for corporations to spend unlimited money in elections. Baucus has put forth a constitutional amendment that would have the effect of reversing the ruling.

Baucus, however, has an enormous burden of proof to meet if he wants to be taken seriously on this issue. For starters, he voted for the confirmation of John Roberts, the Supreme Court chief justice who engineered the Citizens United decision.

And I suppose I should state the obvious, that Baucus is an unlikely person to be carrying the flag for clean elections since he is among the more prolific raisers of corporate cash in the Senate, and is known to reciprocate to donors with favorable legislation, especially when the pharmaceutical industry is the donor, Pharma having made an enormous investment in Baucus’s political career.

In fact, the Missoula Independent has a piece this week on this exact pattern.    Just a few hours before Congress struck a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, the pharmaceutical industry hit the jackpot. Three Senators, Baucus among them, crafted special language and snuck it into the fiscal cliff compromise. It was done at such a late hour that most members of Congress didn’t even know about this insertion, until it was too late to remove. The incident was profiled in the Missoula Independent this week.

The language that was snuck into the fiscal cliff agreement said, basically, that the federal government’s Medicare program will now pay an over-market price to a company called Amgen, a drug industry behemoth, for a kidney disease medication. The concession is worth about $500 million to Amgen, and is a totally unnecessary waste of taxpayer money. Orin Hatch was one of the other Senators who helped craft this goody. Hatch almost lost his primary in 2012 to a Tea Party wingnut, but Hatch’s campaign was rescued at the last minute by an enormous expenditure by PhRMA, and specifically from Amgen.

When questioned by a New York Times reporter, nobody in Congress, not even the three sponsors of this piece of trickery, could articulate a valid purpose for overpaying Amgen by $500 million.

So if Baucus plans to spend the next two years talking about “an amendment to overturn Citizens United,” he must do more than just mumble that phrase. Specifically, he must clarify, in his own mind and to voters, what the purpose of such an amendment would be. Overturning Citizens United would do nothing more than allow Congress to regulate campaign spending more tightly. Such regulation could, in theory, prevent the sort of thing that Baucus and his friends have just done. Does he believe that such behavior needs to be prevented?

And of course, let’s not forget the most important part of this sad episode–that there is no free lunch. If Congress is constantly diverting revenue into the pockets of Fortune 500 CEOs who help out on campaigns, then Congress must either borrow that amount by going further into deficit, or must find revenue somewhere else–which which it has now done. The payroll tax increase, which was part of the fiscal cliff deal, will reduce the average Montana paycheck by about $1,200 a year.

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25 Comments on "Baucus and Citizens United"

  1. Well, our dear Mr. Baucus, what to think about him? I want to like the guy, but geez, he makes it tough. In this case, I tell you what. If he’s for overturning Citizens United, I’m all for it, and I’m glad he’s on board. Maybe we could actually do that, and then regulate the hell out of Max’s shenanigans. I understand he’s also one of the state’s largest recipients of agricultural aid, even though he is quite wealthy. Is that true?

  2. It should be noted, Cowgirl, that a group called Montana Growth recently received a $500,000 contribution from Pharma. The group is apparently run by Baucus former aide Barrett Kaiser, and Kaiser would not comment to reporters when asked about what the money was for. Here is the Missoulian’s report on that: http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/column-who-s-behind-drug-lobby-funding-in-montana-answers/article_cea086d4-4011-11e2-89c2-0019bb2963f4.html

  3. *blinker signaling left turn*

  4. And where are the non-Amgen types who don’t pull down multi-million dollar salaries or lunch regularly with DC Movers-n-Shakerz? An alien looking down might think we care less whether money is free speech. As an aside, does that mean some of us are, indeed, freer than others?

  5. I do so wish we had a viable alternative candidate for the Senate – Baucus is so transparently corrupt it is depressing. Anything he does like this is only to make sure he gets re-elected. That tiger won’t ever change it’s stripes and we will be stuck with him for another 6 years. :(

    • I feel your frustration, but Max ain’t bad; he’s stuck. I don’t particularly relish my petroleum gluttony, but if I don’t orbit my whole life around my car, I won’t survive. If he doesn’t raise super-duper amounts of campaign cash, he’ll surely lose. To some dude who raised more. At least he wants off the ride, huh?

  6. Thank-you for being consistent and honest regarding Senator Baucus’s ties to big corporations and lobbyists. It has to be very embarrassing to have to defend. On my side, the days are over where the lobbyists pick the candidates. Your side has a few more cycles unfortunately.

    Just curious, since we agree that big corporations should not be bankrolling candidates, what do you think of unions and non-profit corporations? They shouldn’t be allowed to bankroll candidates either right?

  7. I'm just sayin..... | February 5, 2013 9:01 PM at 9:01 PM |

    And there is absolutely nothing wrong with Russian Food Mr. Craig More…Eat BORCHST and LIVE!!!

    those dam Missoula Restaurants…Just remember…THEY BUILT IT!!!!!

  8. The worst part is that his Amendment doesn’t overturn Citizens United.

    It’s fake reform, even if it passed it wouldn’t stop the corruption. He’s pushing it because he assumes his constituents are too dumb to realize that, but his DC masters are savvy enough to know that his “reform” wouldn’t even slow them down.

    • Norma Duffy @ilikewoods | February 6, 2013 12:15 AM at 12:15 AM |

      Senator Al Franken (D. MN), who along with Senators Tom Udall (D. NM), Sherrod Brown (D. OH), Max Baucus (D. MT), Jon Tester (D. MT) and Mark Begich (D. AK) are the sponsors to that Constitutional Amendment change your talking about Bob. But I am sure you hate all those Guys just as much as Max, right??

      Make no mistake: Progressives can still win big fights, even three years after Citizens United. But Bickering assholes like You Bob will bring down all who try to reform government with your finger pointing.

      If Max was doing wrong by law, he would be looking like Mendez is now for democrats…scary looking! But you see they haven’t found one witness, against Mendez yet…. after anonymous Morons like you start whisper campaigns of corruption. I dont like some things the Beltway does either but greasing the wheels a little, to help everyone cope with a new law has been going on in Politics long before we were born. As long as disgruntled people on all sides get what they need,it isn’t illegal and still pushes towards progress… Ill take that reality!
      You have already proven to me, that when the going got tough for Maryjane proponents you shut your mouth and crept back into the darkenss, where you came from…..
      Your just another snake oil saleman on the Bottom rung Bob. A scavenger. Nobody’s buying your story of corruption today. Peddle your nonsense somewhere else! We got a respite in health care, stop knocking certain people and find ways to help them make it better. If you cant do that get the hell out of the way!!!

  9. Washington is corrupt, we all know that. Venting about who receives what from whom may help our frustration levels but it accomplishes little else.

    As a result, let’s not forget one very important fact regarding a Constitutional amendmen: congressmen can talk about it all they want, can support it all they want and they can vote the bejeesus out of overturning CU and look like heroes because of it. But any constitutional amendment has to be ratified by 3/4 of the states or it’s moot.

    The real battles on overturning CU will occur in the state legislatures. So, the question really is, who’s “buying” your local legislator?

    • Norma Duffy @ilikewoods | February 6, 2013 10:02 AM at 10:02 AM |

      Stapleton is a young version of Rehberg. Bought and Paid for by Coal, Big oil and fracking. Farmers, Ranchers, and Tourism Leaders who continue to support earth hater policies, are gonna find everything they worked for Gone if they keep voting these assholes in!

  10. Norma Duffy @ilikewoods | February 6, 2013 10:31 AM at 10:31 AM |

    Not on Subject but pretty darn interesting since we will have another drought this summer( still behind in % of watersheds). Whats happening in Europe. Our forest just might have another foe! Al-Qaeda blamed for Europe-wide forest fires ow.ly/htvmh

  11. It’s also worth noting, Amgen was his 7th largest campaign contributor during the last Senate election cycle.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=2012&cid=n00004643&type=I&newmem=N

  12. What a hypocrite, he had an independent expenditure THIS WEEK, over 50% of his money comes from PACS, and he gets 87% of his money from out of state….

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