Inside the collapse of the year’s biggest tax deal

By Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post – December 11, 2014

It was a rough few weeks for Sen. Ron Wyden (AP Photo - J. Scott Applewhite)

It was a rough few weeks for Sen. Ron Wyden (AP Photo – J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Ron Wyden has so many knives in his back, it’s a wonder he’s still walking around upright. But as his tenure as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee draws to a close, Wyden (D-Ore.) remains relentlessly cheerful.

“I understand how sharp the elbows are and how easy it is for negatives to get on out there,” Wyden said. “But when people tote up whatever it is we’ve accomplished over the past nine months, I hope what they say is we came to play.”

Play, yes. Win, not so much. Since he claimed the gavel from Montana Democrat Max Baucus in February, Wyden has struggled on the most important issues, failing to pass his plans to fix the highway trust fund and the Medicare pay schedule for doctors — in the latter case, after vowing to “pull all the stops out” to get it done.

His latest defeat has unspooled over the past month like a slow-motion car wreck. Since setting out to negotiate the revival of more than 50 expired tax breaks through the end of 2015, a relatively modest goal, Wyden has been shoved aside by his majority leader, snubbed by his House counterpart and handcuffed by his president.

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