I'm here in Butte, Montana (known to locals as Butte Montana) for the international economic summit that features, among others, Ben Bernanke, Bob Rubin, Bill Gates, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Sen. Jon Tester and Sen Max Baucus. It's something to see such icons here in a place like Butte - as you can see from the photo from this morning, this town is still dotted with the skeletons of industry (in particular, the mining industry). But, as expected, when you bring the captains of industry here, an ideological message dominates. Today, that message is focused like a laser on demanding Congress pass more lobbyist-written "free" trade deals. Every major keynote speaker has hammered away at this theme - all while claiming our current trade policies are helping average Americans But when it came during the presentations, I had a chance to ask a few questions that challenged this orthodoxy.
I'm live blogging the event over at Working Assets right now, and will be covering Bernanke and Rubin's speech this morning. Check out what happened yesterday. I had a chance to publicly ask Bill Gates about how his company has been aggressively outsourcing jobs. I also had a chance to publicly confront the chairman of the Business Roundtable - one of the most staunch Republican organizations in Washington, D.C. The response from both men was telling - they did everything they could to avoid answering the question.
Ok, sorry to cut this diary short, but Bernanke's speech is starting now - and he's said he's going to be talking primarily about "free" trade and he's already started to attack free trade critics as "protectionists" and isolationists." Check back at Working Assets for liveblog updates throughout the day.