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October 5th, 2009 10:48 am
Shopping with Max Baucus
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Over the weekend, I had the misfortune of shopping in the same grocery store with the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus.  Senator Baucus is currently front-and-center in the debate over health care reform, and the bill that passes through his committee could be the final version that the President signs.


This was regrettably my second encounter with the senior Senator from Montana.  The first was on a flight out of Minneapolis.  The Senator, not surprisingly, was seated in first class.

During the Senator’s shopping experience I passed him in the wine section.  Chairman Baucus, like many shoppers, was in the French wine section of the store.  As capitalists, we can all appreciate the value of choice.  Senator Baucus believes that French wine is the best value for the price and no one should stop him from making that choice.  “Buy American” means little to Senator Baucus, even though his voting record might indicate otherwise.

For example, even though the Senator prefers choice in his wine purchasing, last week he denied Senator Ron Wyden’s health care free choice amendment from coming up for a vote in committee.  Senator Wyden’s amendment would have allowed consumers to shop across state lines for cheaper insurance.  For Senator Baucus, “choice for wine: yes; choice for health care: no, unless you’re paying me to vote otherwise.”

In addition, although Senator Baucus prefers foreign wine, he evidently doesn’t like foreign sugar.  In 2005, Senator Baucus voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).  CAFTA would have normalized trade relations with the Dominican Republic and other Central American countries, driving down prices for American consumers.  Yet, Senator Baucus chose to vote with the sugar industry in his home state of Montana (sugar beets) and deny consumers a chance to purchase lower-priced foreign imports.

So, when it comes to choice and competition, Senator Baucus enjoys the freedom of the market in his personal life, but he’ll do his best in Congress to ensure that you don’t have it in your life.  That’s hypocrisy, pure and simple.

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