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IMF democrats.

In March, the Senate voted 84-to-16 to approve $18 billion for the International Monetary Fund.

This is the institution that usurps economic sovereignty from Third World countries.

This is the institution that drives down the living standards of the majority of the people in these countries.

This is the institution that at the same time lines the pockets of foreign banks and corporations.

From Caracas to Jakarta, from Santiago to Seoul, the IMF has caused riots to break out when people wake up and find that the price of bread or rice has doubled overnight.

As a condition of accepting the IMF's money, Third World countries are forced to devalue their currency, lift the subsidies on basic food items, freeze wages, open their economies to foreign companies, and pay off debts to foreign banks as a first priority. The consequences are jarring in country after country.

Many Democrats still claim to belong to the party of the people, so you might expect Democratic Senators to oppose the new infusion of U.S. tax dollars into the IMF's coffers. But you'd be wrong.

Of the sixteen Senators opposing this IMF bail out, only two were Democrats: Paul Wellstone of Minnesota and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin. All the other Democrats--among them Boxer, Daschle, Dodd, Feinstein, Harkin, Kennedy, Kerrey, Kerry, Leahy, Levin, Mikulski, Moseley-Braun, Moynihan, and Murray--came to rescue the bagman of international capital.

The Republicans split between the enlightened servants of big business, who supported the IMF, and the gonzo capitalists and nativists, who want nothing to do with the IMF.

The gonzos congregate at the American Enterprise Institute and read their daily prayer on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal: They think the IMF is an impediment to maximizing profits. They want countries to go bankrupt and to come crawling not to some stern intermediary like the IMF but directly to Citicorp, Chase Manhattan, Exxon, GM, and ADM.

The nativists, like Jesse Helms and James Inhofe, just don't care what happens to people in the Third World.

Feingold and Wellstone do care. "What the IMF does over and over again is make matters worse," said Wellstone on the Senate floor on March 25. "I look at the record in some of these countries, and I see no evidence whatsoever that IMF policies have led to an improvement in the living standards of people in these countries. For the bankers, yes; for the investors, yes; and for some of these governments which are all too often corrupt, yes, but not for the people."

Feingold, for his part, said in a statement that the legislation protects "risky international investments by giant financial interests," and it does not address the "political oppression" that exists in countries receiving IMF loans. He specifically mentioned Indonesia's "despotic government" as being unworthy of IMF aid.

By voting down the IMF funds, Feingold and Wellstone offered a vision of a progressive internationalism. The rest took a walk.
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Title Annotation:Democrats who support the International Monetary Fund despite its victimization of Third World countries
Publication:The Progressive
Date:May 1, 1998
Previous Article:Negative action.
Next Article:The year of that woman.

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