Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)

The chances of Congress working on tax reform next year have gone from very unlikely to effectively zero with the decision by President Obama to name Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) ambassador to China. Baucus is chair of the extremely powerful Senate Finance Committee.

Despite the long odds, Baucus has been working towards creating a comprehensive tax reform plan with House Ways and Means chair David Camp (R-MI). The plan has faced resistance from many fronts but the pair has between trying to make something work for almost a year

Obviously, if Baucus is in China there is no way he can push for tax reform next year. It is also likely Baucus wouldn’t be entertaining taking this appointment unless it was clear his goal of tax reform was basically dead anyway.

Tax reform can be added to the growing list of legislative goals that appear dead on arrival in Congress next year. Don’t expect this Congress to be any more productive in the second half of the term.