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Democrat Max Baucus' really, uh, passionate Senate speech about healthcare, asbestos and more

December 28, 2009 | 10:08 am

Montana Democrat Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, one recent mid-afternoon spoke forcefully and sometimes repetitively about healthcare in general.

He seemed especially aroused over the uncooperative role that he perceives his Republican colleagues have played in his party's struggle to get the measure through Congress. (See video below.)

But, as a point of personal privy, er, privilege, Baucus also got going about Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) suggestion that a massive new healthcare bill of more than 2,500 pages shouldn't be larded up with special provisions for a tiny logging town in northwest Montana in a county named for the first Republican president, if you can believe such a thing exists.

Baucus, whose sixth term, if he completes it, ends in 2014, is a graduate of Stanford University and a former member of both the Montana and U.S. House of Representatives.

He came under fire most recently for admitting that he was romantically involved with a woman he put on a nomination list to the White House as a candidate for U.S. attorney.

By the way, members of the Senate were paid $6 for an entire term back in the nation's early days, way back even....

...before Joe Biden became a senator, which was when Barack Obama was in sixth grade. Today, these congressional folks are paid 29,000 times more than that -- $174,000 a year for vital work such as Baucus is seen performing here on Dec. 22.

Since the middle of 1991, members of Congress have given themselves about a $4,000 raise every year, including this year when so often they mentioned how tough economic times were for many Americans.

These folks do their own increases very cleverly: They pass raises scheduled for several years out to take effect unless they unvote them later, which never seems to happen. That way they can -- truthfully -- claim during the upcoming midterm election campaigns that they did not vote for raises this year. The pay boosts just come. Who can stop that?

At this rate of salary increases, however, it won't be very long before members of Congress will qualify as rich people subject to these special new rich people taxes they want to assess on others to pay for all these new programs they're voting to spend more money on.

Unless, of course, members of Congress vote to exempt themselves from that coverage too.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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