BEATING UP BAUCUS
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee who has collaborated in a bipartisan compromise tax cut, was beaten up by colleagues for the second straight week at Tuesday's conference of Democratic senators.
Freshman Sen. Mark Dayton of Minnesota two weeks ago attacked Baucus for compromising. "I've listened to your driveling; now listen to me," Dayton told the 22-year Senate veteran. Baucus attempted a defense, but he was put down by Senate Democratic Leader Thomas Daschle.
At last Tuesday's meeting, Sen. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey defended Baucus. But Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts upbraided Baucus and other Democratic compromisers -- including Torricelli.
NO SENATORIAL COURTESY
Senatorial courtesy collapsed Tuesday night when Republican Sen. Phil Gramm audibly guffawed over remarks of Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia during the Senate Finance Committee's markup of the tax bill.
Aiming at oil companies, Rockefeller proposed a 100 percent tax on profits that exceed 20 percent. He cited a study that, while failing to find collusion in the industry, discovered a desire to maximize oil profits. That provoked Gramm's laughter and derogatory remarks.
The comments amused Gramm particularly because they were coming from the great-grandson (John D. Rockefeller IV) of oil buccaneer John D. Rockefeller. Sen. Rockefeller complained that Gramm should wait until he finished speaking, and Chairman Charles Grassley admonished the senators to be courteous.
After meeting at the White House Monday with representatives of 22 labor unions, Vice President Dick Cheney requested and conducted a private meeting with two of them: Teamsters President James P. Hoffa and Carpenters President Doug McCarron, both of whom supported Al Gore for president last year.
Hoffa and McCarron back President Bush's proposed oil drilling in Alaska and expansion of nuclear power. But Hoffa urged a change in the administration's policies on ergonomics and U.S.-Mexican trucking regulations. Cheney was non-committal.
McCarron has told the White House that the Carpenters Union is more interested in job training for its members than in playing politics. That implies criticism of AFL-CIO President John Sweeney's bond with the Democratic Party.
MISSED DEMOCRATIC BOAT
Prominent Democratic operatives complained that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) missed a great opportunity by not intervening vigorously in Tuesday's Pennsylvania special election.
Auto dealer Bill Shuster won by only 8,500 votes in an overwhelmingly Republican Pennsylvania district to succeed his powerful father. House Transportation Committee Chairman Bud Shuster resigned from Congress after being elected to a 15th term last year. Bill Shuster was unusually vulnerable because of inexperience and the fact that his father in 2000 was cited for misconduct by the House Ethics Committee.
But Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, the new DCCC chairman, was informed by the committee staff that the Democratic candidate, County Commissioner Scott Conklin, had no chance. The DCCC provided him no money and little encouragement. The National Committee for an Effective Congress (NCEC), not connected to any official Democratic organization, gave Conklin $5,000 from its limited resources.
Rep. Charles Rangel of New York has renewed his drive to become House Ways and Means Committee chairman with a fund-raising letter to Washington lobbyists and other supporters, asking them to "consider joining my Advisory Council and becoming a partner with me in the effort to restore the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives."
Rangel, 70 years old and a 30-year veteran of Congress, was heartbroken last year when failure by the Democrats to win back the House denied him the tax-writing committee's chairmanship. His letter requests $2,000 for the Rangel for Congress Committee. Since Rangel needs no re-election help in his Harlem district, the money will be given to "House candidates nationwide."
Rangel hosted a private breakfast on Capitol Hill Thursday morning with business lobbyists who contribute to him. He assailed President Bush's tax plan, claiming that it will end up costing $3 trillion over 10 years instead of the $1.6 trillion listed by the administration.