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Baucus says goals include more help for vets

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 10, 2013 at 5:37 pm •  Published: January 10, 2013

Baucus also renewed his call to bring the troops home from Afghanistan. Speaking to reporters after the speech, Baucus said also said he thinks there will be more pressure from the Senate to do so this year.

Baucus criticized the intense partisanship that has led to gridlock in Washington D.C. But he also touted successes like the highway bill, which brings millions to the state, and the recent fiscal cliff deal.

And the Democrat, who chairs the influential Senate Finance Committee, defended the fiscal cliff deal's tax extensions for large corporations. Critics say the tax breaks continue giveaways to some of the wealthiest corporations.

Baucus argued that the breaks, which originated in his committee, had bipartisan backing and got rid of some of the breaks in the previous round of "tax extenders."

The Democrat said the tax deal, overall, is a big improvement because it makes permanent estate tax relief, important to farmers and ranchers, extends many breaks used by middle-class and small business tax breaks and solved other issues.

Another part of the deal that has drawn criticism axed a temporary reduction in the Social Security payroll tax. Baucus said that was a necessary measure.

"Montanans also need a strong Social Security trust fund, too," Baucus said.

He said the coming year will include battles over spending as Congress debates the delayed sequestration cuts, the nation's debt limit and writes new spending bills.

"We are going to have to work hard to make sure we appropriately reduce the debt," Baucus said.