Baucus, Senate Finance Committee, Early Test for Obama

By Beacon Staff

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and the rest of the Senate Finance Committee will host a “closed door-meeting” with President-elect Barack Obama to gauge support of the new administration’s massive stimulus plan.

Baucus, chairman of the powerful committee, told POLITICO, “My goal is to get this passed in a bipartisan way. I want to move to markup soon, and this is where I can get a sense and feel of what to present in markup, what the threshold is.”

Baucus, however, expects some opposition, especially to health provisions that are part of the $775 billion package:

Baucus said he is prepared for some resistance on the spending front. “Earlier discussions with Republicans … last year were a lot lower, a lot lower,” he agreed of the Medicaid provisions. And Baucus conceded that he could face objections as well to expanding the child tax credit as far as the $3,000 threshold now proposed.

But the chairman, who was scheduled to meet with Grassley on Tuesday evening, was upbeat given the political stakes for both parties. “My sense is the economy is in such difficult shape, and potentially getting in worse shape, that there will be a lot of cooperation all the way around,” Baucus said.

Read David Rogers’ full story here.