US Politics

Max Baucus: Montana’s Joe Lieberman on Trade?

It’s hard not to admire Senator Baucus waiting until the first week of Congressional session to offer the Bush administration another blank check. In a Wall Street Journal love letter to “free” trade and unfettered Presidential power, Senator Baucus once again has forgotten that the people he represents are more important than the multinational corporations that fund his campaigns.

Senator Baucus does offer the same kind of lip service that allows Democrats afraid of their own party to pretend to oppose this President, noting:

Fast-track authority should be improved as it is renewed, with better trade enforcement capability and better environmental and labor provisions. By making those changes, we can protect American interests, project America’s values, and help to create consumer classes capable of purchasing more U.S.-made goods. And as we address expiring fast-track authority, we must take on — head-on — globalization’s downsides, especially worker displacement and the unsustainable trade deficit.

No matter how many Democratic constituency groups Baucus tried to appease in that paragraph, it’s largely lip service.  Concern for the environment, labor, and consumers are precisely the kind of objections that cause responsible members of the Senate to oppose fast track. The up or down votes that TPA envisions are another example of expanded Presidential authority–authority we cannot extend this, or any President. 

Senator Baucus knows better. If there is any lesson of the past six years, it is that less oversight over this President is disastrous. Rather than abrogate his responsibility yet again, it’s time for Senator Baucus to stand up for the interests of American workers, the environment, and workers under the thumb of multinational corporations in the developing world.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • The story I’ve heard over the years is that when Max first decided to run for office he couldn’t decide whether to run as a Republican or as a Democrat. Whether that’s actually true or not I don’t know. But it always appears to me that he still hasn’t decided.

  • Are you suggesting that the Democratic leadership should “stay the course” on current Democratic trade policy? I am both socially progressive and pro-growth, but as a registered independent voter, I voted for Democrats in the last election because of their forward-thinking social and foreign policy, not because of anti-trade rhetoric. Rather than relying on their out-dated anti-trade policies and declaring “mission accomplished”, the Democratic leadership should seek out new, progressive ideas like those proposed by Baucus. Rather than ignoring the challenges of globalization, Baucus’ proposal, especially that of expanded Trade Adjustment Authority, faces these challenges head-on. Renewed fast-track authority would demand close oversight by Congress while avoiding exactly the type of congressional influence that we all find offensive – bureaucratic red tape and pork-barrel amendments. Your suggestion that Baucus’ proposal is strictly in the interest of multinational corporations would offend the beef and wheat farmers of Montana, any union worker whose job depends on the export of the products he or she makes, even the average working-class mother who depends on inexpensive imports at Wal-Mart to stretch her salary. As the dollar falls and America’s trade deficit increases, America needs trade policies from the Democrats that will open up foreign markets and lead to an expanding American economy. In order to prosper, America needs pro-growth ideas that lead to new job growth from global demand, not retrenched demagoguery and mercantilist protectionism that seek to isolate an ever-shrinking share of global trade.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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