Thursday, Jul. 16, 2009

Max Baucus

Democratic Senator from Montana

The longtime, low-key Democrat from Montana is not a household name or face, but his chairmanship of the Finance Committee and his centrist leanings make him both an ally and a potential problem for the White House, where his former top aide, Jim Messina, is deputy chief of staff. Some early skeptics have been surprised by Baucus' effective dealmaking with elements of the business community and his focus on getting a workable deal. He has emerged as the most likely Democrat to bring aboard meaningful — or token — Republican support for a bill. Critics from the left, however, question his commitment to broad-based reform and wonder if he is too focused on trying to win the backing of his GOP colleagues. That has led him into a delicate tango with majority leader Harry Reid over how much to push and compromise for the sake of bipartisanship.