The Washington Times - April 23, 2013, 03:34PM

President Obama’s statement on the retirement of Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, conspicuously makes no mention of the role he played in shepherding the Affordable Care Act through the Senate.

Instead, Mr. Obama thanks Mr. Baucus for his 3½ decades of service to the people of Montana, his emphasis on helping small businesses and the local economy in his state, and his work on a “broad range of issues” on the Senate Finance and Environment and Public Works committees.

SEE RELATED: Montana Sen. Max Baucus won’t seek re-election

“Max has made small business a top priority, often taking ‘work days’ to visit local businesses across Montana and spend a day working alongside his constituents to gain perspective and help bolster the local economy,” Mr. Obama said. “Max has been a leader on a broad range of issues that touch the lives of Americans across the country.”

“Michelle and I commend Senator Baucus on his career, and wish him and his family well in the future,” he added.

Notably absent was any mention that Mr. Baucus chaired the Finance Committee and played a lead role in crafting the new health care law, Mr. Obama’s signature piece of legislation.

Mr. Baucus caused a stir earlier this month when he warned at a recent hearing with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that implementing the federal health care law would be a “train wreck” over the next few years. The comment upset liberals supportive of the law and conservatives who pointed out that he was the one who did the lion’s share of the work to get the bill passed in the Senate.

He also angered the White House by voting against legislation to enhance background checks of gun purchase, and his “no” vote helped kill the measure.

The business-friendly Democrat was one of the most vulnerable members of the Senate. He will be the sixth Democrat to announce plans to retire at the end of the current term, and his departure clears the way for another competitive Senate election, giving Republicans a chance to increase their numbers in the chamber.

SEE RELATED: Sen. Max Baucus: Health law heading for ‘train wreck’