Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus (D-MT) is becoming less relevant to the health care debate, report MSNBC correspondents Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell.
Baucus, who's been the lead negotiator in the Senate, released his own proposal for legislation earlier this week. But, Todd said, he had quietly circulated the same document to the White House in June. If Baucus had released it publicly then, Todd said, he may have been able to get Republicans Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi to sign on -- but now it's too late.
"How he managed the politics of this has made him less relevant to this process," he went on. "He is still relevant because he is an important committee chair, but he is no longer the person playing point. The president of the United States is playing point. He's drafting, frankly, the legislation with what he says tonight."
As Mitchell said, the White House is passing him by.