- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003

Attacking Baucus

Some Senate Democrats are so angry at fellow Democrat Max Baucus that they want to strip the Montanan of his seniority on the Finance Committee, Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt writes.

Mr. Hunt, in a column yesterday that excoriated Mr. Baucus for supposedly giving way too easily to Republican demands on the Medicare prescription-drug bill, said the Montana Democrat’s support for the legislation “is generating buzz among his caucus colleagues that he be denied his senior position on the Finance Committee.”

Interestingly, Mr. Hunt made no mention of Louisiana Sen. John B. Breaux, the other Democrat who negotiated and signed off on the House-Senate conference committee compromise.

Even as Mr. Hunt lashed out from the left, his own newspaper attacked the legislation from the right, saying in an editorial yesterday that the Medicare bill is “too expensive a gamble for principled conservatives to support.”

Lieberman’s list

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman attacked several key figures in the Bush administration yesterday, accusing 17 regulators of protecting the corporate interests that once employed them.

“You know the old saying about foxes guarding the hen house,” Mr. Lieberman said in a speech to be delivered to the Commonwealth Club in Palo Alto, Calif. “But George Bush has the foxes guarding the foxes, leaving whole industries less accountable and less protected.”

Mr. Lieberman, the Connecticut senator who has cast himself as a centrist best positioned to challenge President Bush on the issue of integrity, singled out three Bush administration officials, the Associated Press reports.

They are J. Steven Griles, a former mining and oil industry lobbyist who is now deputy secretary of the Interior; John Graham, the director of a White House office overseeing environmental regulation who founded a Harvard think tank that produced studies questioning the need for many regulations; and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt, who was forced to resign a year ago after the Enron collapse and other corporate scandals when Democrats highlighted his connections to major accounting firms regulated by the SEC.

Mr. Lieberman also named other officials, including Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton and three appointees to the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. He said the list illustrated how Mr. Bush had undermined public trust in government.

“He has not just let them inside — he has often put them in charge of the very federal agencies created to protect the people,” Mr. Lieberman said.

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