Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Votes Have Consequences: Greens Take On Blumenauer over TPP


"Progressive" Rep. Earl Blumenauer gets a Fast Track talking to

by Gaius Publius

As we reported, TPP lost its first major vote in the Senate when Fast Track enabling legislation (formally, "Trade Promotion Authority") failed to clear the 60-vote barrier:
Senate Democrats on Tuesday delivered a stinging blow to President Obama’s trade agenda by voting to prevent the chamber from picking up fast-track legislation.

A motion to cut off a filibuster and proceed to the trade bill fell short of a 60-vote hurdle, 52-45. Sen. Tom Carper (Del.) was the only Democrat to back it.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) switched his vote from yes to no to reserve his ability to return to the measure at a later date. ...

The opposition included Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and other pro-trade Democrats who back the fast-track bill.

“The group is concerned about the lack of a commitment to trade enforcement, which is specifically the customs bill,” Wyden told reporters in explaining his opposition. ...

Wyden was joined by Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Mark Warner (Va.).
There's a lot to focus on here. I recommend you click through to get the ins and outs of the "procedural" issues. As you do, though, keep in mind that any attempt to add currency manipulation restrictions to TPP will kill the treaty. McConnell, in his post-vote comments on the floor, said Obama will veto such a bill.

Now notice the names. If you look back at our whip list piece, you'll see that all of the Democratic Yes votes except Carper switched to No. It also looks like every Republican, even those leaning or declared No, voted Yes. At least for now.

So what's going on? The short version — this is an extremely unpopular "trade" deal. Once you say "NAFTA" it gets simple fast:

"It's like NAFTA."
"I hate it."

"It's not like NAFTA."
"Did you just say NAFTA? I hate it."

That's all it takes to explain it. And every Democrat named above is walking a line, trying to pass a bill that people hate but their funders love ... trying to turn this NAFTA-like "trade" bill into something they can explain, while not destroying it. That task is impossible, and I suspect Harry Reid, the hero in this story, understands that.

All you need to know — any attempt to tie Obama's hands and the hands of the CEO class who are writing TPP will doom it to failure. Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch said as much in discussing an early bipartisan currency manipulation amendment (my emphasis):
In the most contentious [committee] vote of the day, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) lost their bid — on an 11-15 vote — to include an amendment in the legislation that would have required the White House to include enforceable currency manipulation provisions in international trade agreements. ...

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) went as far as to say if the amendment passes, “you could kiss TPP goodbye.”
There is no way "pro–free trade" Democrats can thread this needle, and the White House is swinging "all or nothing" wood as part of their pressure. They're in a real bind, these Democrats, but they'll keep trying until the White House gives up on this legacy dream and moves to the next one. For once, though, Democrats voted with their constituents — mainly because their constituents are swinging some wood of their own.

"Progressive" Earl Blumenauer Targeted by Oregon Environmentalists over Trade

Case in point, "progressive" Oregon House member, bow-tie-wearing, bicycle-riding Earl Blumenauer. Normally considered a "progressive" — though not a reliable one by any means — Blumenauer played Wyden's role in the House, the role of "lead perp." Blumenauer put the bipartisan stamp on Fast Track when it exited Paul Ryan's Ways and Means Committee.

Oregon environmentalists made sure he knew they noticed:
Greens Turn Against Longtime Ally Earl Blumenauer Over Trade Deal

Bike pin or no bike pin, environmentalists are attacking the progressive Democrat for supporting “fast track.”

Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and Food and Water Watch launched a television spot Tuesday criticizing Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon for supporting so-called "fast-track" trade legislation swiftly moving through Congress.

That's Earl Blumenauer—the congressman who wears fluorescent bicycle pins.

"You might think congressman Earl Blumenauer always fights to protect our environment, but you would be wrong," a narrator's voice intones during the ad. "Blumenauer just voted to fast-track a trade deal that would devastate our environment and contribute to climate change."

Blumenauer boasts a 95 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, and has earned a reputation as an opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline and as a champion of climate action.

But for green groups, Blumenauer's record is the reason they believe it is important to go after him. At a time when many high-profile Republicans disdain the idea of taking action on climate change, environmentalists fear that Democrats will take their support for granted. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and Food and Water Watch want to make sure that even their friends understand that support for fast-track won't go unpunished.
"Support for fast-track won't go unpunished." The way to punish a careerist is to interrupt his career. Just a thought. You can give him your thoughts here:

Rep. Earl Blumenauer
1111 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4811

If you vote in Oregon, be sure to say so. He'll be glad to know that.

Fast Track Will Be Back

This isn't the end. Fast Track will return. The White House is already calling this a "procedural snafu" and they're gearing up for more. But unless pro-TPP Democrats win in the next round ...
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who rallied his caucus to reject the fast-track measure on a procedural vote, has already floated a plan to find a way out of the impasse by offering to drop anti-currency manipulation language in a customs bill from his party’s list of demands.

While his initial overture likely won’t settle the issue, and top Republicans said they were skeptical of Reid’s proposal, Democrats’ willingness to return to the bargaining table suggests the trade measure may not be dead. And pro-trade Democrats huddled with the White House on Tuesday evening, as the administration looked for a way forward.
... momentum has swung and will continue to swing towards the people opposed.

Of all the fights in DC, this is most like the fight over Social Security cuts. Obama and Boehner failed multiple times to win that one — too many people "got it" and were opposed. Obama and McConnell will try again with TPP, but it seems people "get it" on these phony trade deals as well. They're clearly opposed.

"Obama and Boehner" ... "Obama and McConnell" ... Are you sensing a pattern?


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At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, at least Oregonian voters still give a shit.

Too bad that Oregon is a unique, special case among us states/voters.

TPA (thus, TPP, TTIP and, ultimately, a worldwide FTA) are in my childrens' and grandchildren's futures. Oregon is a tiny minority of the us electorate and they, too, will probably reach their betrayal limit, like everyone else, and quit voting.

And SOME of us have been sensing that pattern since the dems formed their DLC official corruption clique... and Clinton started taking the wrecking ball to the New Deal.

It's pointless to contact elected on this or SSI or any damn thing. They already know... and they couldn't give less of a steaming shit.

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take the TPP (and/or TTIP); get The Obamanable $HAFT !

At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never ever ever trust anyone who wears a bow tie. When will people ever learn that simple lesson?
OK, so who do we support to primary Blumenauer? (And Bonamici, and Schrader.) It's the whole Oregon delegation that is owned by Nike. Who is left that is not owned?
And Nike is is not an exporter, it is an importer. All their crap is made in Vietnam and other places often by the equivalent of slaves. And for the little bit of work they do in Oregon, instead of hiring Americans, they hire Idians on BS visas (the area west of Portland where Nike is headquartered is called Little Dehli).
To the extent this TPP is even about trade, it is about shipping more manufacturing jobs overseas and more low wage tech workers to the US to undercut Americans' pricing power with respect to wages and working conditions.

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

when you reach your betrayal limit, you vote Bernie Sanders in 2016!


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