The Billings Gazette editorial page rightly gives a "thumbs down" to the IRS sending out a postcard to tell everyone about the tax rebate they will be getting. Well, some people will be getting those checks, but not the people who pay most of the taxes -- but we won't get into that part of it. After all, as Sen. Baucus implies in his postcard, those who make more than a certain amount are "undeserving" of a tax rebate.
Which brings up a criticism of the Gazette. Surely, the Gazette editorial board members also received Sen. Baucus's post-card, crowing about the stimulus package checks that would be coming people's way. That, too, was at taxpayer expense.
So why the selective indignation? Why criticism of the IRS for sending out a postcard, but no criticism from the Gazette editorial board of Sen. Baucus's flagrant abuse of his franking privileges in an election year? Even some folks on the left noticed and were not amused by this waste of taxpayer money.
After all, it is arguably a part of the IRS's job description to inform taxpayers about changes in tax law. What is Sen. Baucus's excuse -- other than the fact that it is an election year, and he's running short on campaign cash (not)?
Sen. Baucus wasn't even a part of the loop in designing the stimulus package (so much for being the 4th most powerful Senator in Washington) and had to add some window-dressing to the legislation after the fact.
Montana Headlines has accepted that there will not be a viable challenge to Baucus this year, barring unforeseen circumstances (which can, of course, always arise.) But the way that the press takes it easy on Baucus is maddening, and it probably contributed to the unwillingness of any higher-profile Montana Republican to enter the race. That's no excuse -- the Montana GOP should have been able to prevail on someone to step up to the plate, regardless of the odds.
But every time we see the Montana press coddle Sen. Baucus like this, it becomes harder to blame the Republicans who chose not to challenge him.