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Baucus chief of staff joins Obama team (slightly old news)

It's old news, but seems to have flown under the radar a bit. Courtesy of WaPo's The Fix: "Jim Messina, who is currently serving as chief of staff to Montana Sen. Max Baucus, will join the presidential operation of Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in a senior advisory role -- the latest addition of a longtime party operative to the Illinois Senator's political inner circle."

What to make of this? Baucus, of course, is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. In the Senate, Finance has jurisdiction over trade. This is, shall we say, inconvenient for fair trade activists since Baucus deep down (and not so deep down) thinks the NAFTA-WTO model is just fabulous (with a few labor and environmental carrots thrown in). For instance, at a speech he gave to the centrist New Democrats last year, he said:

I have long called for negotiations with commercially significant economies.  The Korean Free Trade Agreement is a good start.  But we should not be afraid to think bigger.  We should continue to pursue negotiations with Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, and Japan.  We should not shy away from more daunting measures like regional agreements with ASEAN or APEC.

...Behind every American strength and success are American ideas.  We should take ambitious measures to enhance their protection and enforcement domestically and globally.  We should begin to negotiate a plurilateral intellectual property agreement in the World Trade Organization that goes beyond our existing TRIPS obligations.

More NAFTA expansion! More protectionism for pharmaceutical companies! Hooray!

So, the appointment of Baucus' chief of staff to a high-level position within the Obama campaign should rightfully put fair traders on their toes just a little more.

Disclosure: Global Trade Watch has no preference among the candidates.

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