A Year of (Neoliberal) Action

by lizard

Yesterday, after a reactionary tweet to the news Jon Tester compared Max Baucus to Mike Mansfield at Max’s confirmation hearing, I figured maybe I should get a little wikipedia background on Mike. This got my attention:

After his ambassadorship, Mansfield served for a time as a senior adviser on East Asian affairs to Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment banking firm.

Maybe Mike Mansfield would understand the congressional actions Baucus has been busy with, described in this Truthout piece:

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on January 16 on a bill that would renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for the President, allowing trade treaties to be “fast tracked” through Congress. The measure was introduced by Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) last week, just as far-reaching “free trade” agreements with Asian and European countries are nearing completion.

Shifting to Obama, who called for a YEAR OF ACTION in his state of the union speech last night, the pundits will likely focus on the meager concession of raising minimum wage while ignoring or downplaying Obama’s promotion of free trade—a cherished neoliberal weapon in the ongoing class war. Here’s John Nichols writing for The Nation:

There was nothing robust or exciting about Obama’s free-trade pitch. There was something entirely predictable, almost routinized about it. But like George W. Bush and Bill Clinton before him, Obama embraced an orthodoxy that no longer makes economic or political sense.

After arguing for “new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific,” Obama told Congress, “We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority.”

It is no secret that the president wants to cut the deals that are required to establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping new “NAFTA on steroids” trade pact with eleven Asian and Latin American countries. Nor is it any secret that he would like to clear the way for that agreement by getting Congress to give him the fast-track trade promotion authority that allows negotiations to go forward without congressional oversight or amendments that might address labor rights, human rights, environmental and development concerns.

The problem is that the constituencies Obama is hoping to rally in support of initiatives to address income inequality have come to associate multilateral arrangements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement with the collapse of industries, the shuttering of factories and the elimination of hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs that once sustained middle-class families. The loss of those jobs—in combination with the related weakening of industrial unions and the depression of wages—is well understood to have contributed mightily to the growth of income inequality.

Nichols goes on to point out Obama, the 2008 candidate for president, put free trade agreements like NAFTA in their proper context while campaigning, but now—poof! The deceitful neoliberal in the seat of power actively undermines any shred of credibility when it comes to addressing income inequality by supporting what he campaigned against 5 years ago.

Obama’s selection of Max is more than just a cynical attempt to give John Walsh an edge in the battle for control of the senate—Max is ideologically aligned with Obama’s neoliberal agenda, and will make a perfect spokesperson for the corporate interests Max spent his political career protecting.

Unfortunately American workers don’t factor in these decisions.

  1. steve kelly

    “Unfortunately American workers don’t factor in these decisions.”

    Overly broad summation IMHO about workers trapped in a political duopoly committed to neoliberalism and authoritarian control of political power now firmly in the hands of oligarchs and plutocrats.

    What realistic chance do workers, especially working poor, have to vote for a truly pro-worker statewide candidate in Montana? Zero % chance in 2014 here in the (western) colonies. Half or more will not vote, and for good reason.

  2. Lorene

    max is a traitor to the people of America–wouldn’t let single payer on the table–should NOT be ambassador to China

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