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Congessional Democrats Offer 'Two-for-One' Tax Special

12:23 PM, Apr 17, 2007 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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With tax day here, you'll be glad to know that Congress is changing the way it approaches important tax questions. If you're a lobbyist, you no longer have to buy tickets to two separate fundraisers if you want to support Ways and Means Chairman Rangel and Finance Chairman Baucus. Now you can buy one ticket to support the Baucus-Rangel Leadership Fund:

Whether the business community will buy Rangel's vision for a better America remains to be seen, but its representatives certainly are spending money to spend time with him. Rangel's fundraising has soared since he became chairman of Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over tax, healthcare and trade policy, at the beginning of the year. Rangel raised $761,000, according to a new report he filed with the FEC, by far the most the 76-year-old chairman has ever raised in a three-month period.

Baucus has raised $1 million during the first quarter of 2007, a figure in line with quarterly totals he raised in past election cycles. He has $2.9 million in cash on hand, a Montana record. But Baucus long has been known as a friend to the business community. While some businessmen seem less sure of Rangel, they appear eager to become fast friends with the New Yorker.

One possible reason that Rangel's donations are skyrocketing while Baucus' are holding relatively steady is that as a moderate, Baucus long enjoyed support in the business community. Rangel by contrast, is probably finding many new supporters now that he chairs a committee critical to their interests.

Baucus' Chief of Staff states that the fund is for the re-election of the two officials, but that's certainly not true of Rangel, who won 96 percent of the vote in 2006, and does not face serious re-election challenges. The money raised by Rangel will be used primarily to support other Democratic candidates.

The Democrats ran last year on a promise to change Washington. In this case anyway, it seems that meant a more convenient way to buy face time with two of the most powerful chairmen in Congress.