Tag: Mike Baumgartner
State Sen. Mike Baumgartner, a Spokane Republican, is challenging U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell for a U.S. Senate seat, touting an extensive resume of overseas experience that seems to make him a natural for the Foreign Affairs Committee if he pulls off the upset of the century and thwarts Cantwell’s bid for a third term.
His international experiences are so extensive, in fact, that I’m not going to try to summarize them here. If you want the details, read them on Baumgartner’s website.
Suffice to say that since he was 12, Baumgartner has visited 70 countries. Most recently, he has served with the State Department as an economics officer in Iraq, and as an advisor with a private contractor that worked with U.S. armed forces on opium eradication in Afghanistan.
“The U.S. Senate is really the foreign policy advisory board for the country,” Baumgartner said in a recent interview.
As he sees it, too few Senators are qualified for that role.
His experiences have made him skeptical of using American troops for “nation-building” in Afghanistan. He called nation-building “not a realistic goal.”
He described U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East as “confused,” and added, “I think we have too many troops in Afghanistan right now.”
America’s leaders have insulated the country from the cost of the wars, beginning with George W. Bush, Baumgartner said. He faulted Bush for “not taking the country to war,” cutting taxes and urging Americans to go on doing what they were doing while the troops did the fighting. The Bush administration was guilty of a “deficits don’t matter” attitude in cutting taxes and waging war at the same time.
Americans should have been asked to shoulder the financial burden, “even if he (Bush) had just put a penny on the gas tax to remind folks,” Baumgartner said.
But he hastened to add that he is not advocating tax increases today.
Asked if he favors military intervention to shut down Iran’s nuclear program, Baumgartner was skeptical.
“The reality with Iran is that we have a lot of bad options,” he said. “If something’s going to be done, it has to have more chance of success than failure.”
Although — like Barack Obama — he believes that intervention should not be ruled out, he also observed that those who are calling for a U.S. military strike may not have thought it through.
“Presidential candidates have a natural impetus to look tough on these things,” Baumgartner said.
On other issues, he portrayed himself as a friend of higher education in Olympia who wants to take that issue to the U.S. Senate.
In the State Legislature, Baumgartner said he has advocated the creation of dedicated funds to support the university and college system. He suggests a law that would give higher education one cent of the sales tax collected on each dollar.
In the nation’s capital, Baumgartner said he would advocate for strong federal financial support for higher education. He says the U.S. college and university system has been a traditional source of strength for our economy.
“Why we would walk away from that system now is beyond me,” he said.
On energy issues, Baumgartner sounds a bit more like a Republican. He favors more domestic production of petroleum, and wants to see the XL Pipeline built to carry Canadian tar sands oil to U.S. refineries.
He pronounces federal spending unsustainable, and pledges to make reform of entitlement programs a top priority if he is elected.
He believes in a means test for Social Security benefits, meaning that wealthy retirees would get less. He also favors an eventual rollback of the eligibility age for benefits, but postponing that long enough to avoid breaking promises to those now nearing retirement.
Asked if that would be fair to the millions of workers whose jobs involve physical labor, Baumgartner agreed that was a legitimate issue, and there should be a safety net for those who are no longer physically able to continue working.