Political Animal


April 23, 2013 3:32 PM Careers Taking a Turn For the Worse

By Ed Kilgore

It’s surely a coincidence that Max Baucus’ retirement came so soon after an April 6 article by the New York Times’ Eric Lipton about the twenty-eight former Baucus staffers who have been registered to lobby on tax issues during the Obama years. But it’s probably a testament to the self-regard U.S. senators tend to share that Baucus would be willing to rain on so very many parades. I mean, really, an awful lot of hungry trust funds and investment portfolios were going to be fed once the Senate eventually got around to the “tax reform” exercise that would decide the fate of many hundreds of billions of dollars worth of exemptions and deductions and credits that drive a major portion of the lobbying industry. Indeed, former Baucus staffers alone may be sizable enough community to generate some buzz for a new “reform” effort before he leaves the Senate.

More likely, they’re going to take a collective hit that could shake up the K Street pecking order for years to come. Here’s Matt Yglesias dancing on the border between crocodile tears and schadenfreude:

Any veteran legislator ends up creating a K Street trail of former [staffers], but Baucus was a golden ticket. As a Montana Democrat, his vote is less predictable and partisan than that of a Vermont or Massachusetts Democrat, so he’s open to persuasion on a wider range of topics. And as chairman of the Finance Committee, he leads a panel that’s subject to much more lobbying than other important committees such as Judiciary or Foreign Affairs. Ties to Max Baucus, in other words, have been some of the most lucrative around. Research shows that lobbyists earn wage premia for both issue expertise and connections but the connections premium is larger. So the former Baucus staffers working on health care and tax issues aren’t going to be out on the streets, but are going to substantially less hot commodities.

If someone ever develops a Mad Men-type television show focused on the lobbying biz, the Baucus Retirement will provide a major episode.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on April 23, 2013 4:49 PM:

    No sugar for you, if the Sugar Daddy you used to work for, and who could cherry-pick tax reforms for your clients, decides to up (yours) and retire.

    Poor, poor, fatherless children...

  • Jack in DC on April 23, 2013 6:00 PM:

    Didn't HBO used to have a show called "K Street"? And yes, I'd have paid money to see this episode.

  • bdop4 on April 23, 2013 6:50 PM:

    Good riddance, although I'm sure he will soon be joining his staffers on the K Street gravy train.

    After watching him emasculate the health care bill, I can honestly say I feel more animus towards Baucus than most republicans. At least you know they are scum bags.

    I will shed no tears when he departs this world.