Saturday, June 13, 2015

The New Dems And Backward Trade Policies-- TPP


Wall Street and Big Business, usually thought of as an integral part of the Republican Party, finances The New Dem faction of the House Democratic caucus to ensure that they have their fingers in the internal affairs of both parties. Currently there are 46 New Dems in the House and, generally speaking, they tend to be the most conservative Democrats in the House, the ones who back corporate/Wall Street policies and the Republican agenda. Among the 20 Democrats who vote most frequently with the GOP on crucial roll calls are 13 reactionary New Dems-- Gwen Graham (FL), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Brad Ashford (NE), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY), Patrick Murphy (FL), Scott Peters (CA), Ami Bera (CA), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Filemon Vela (TX), Pete Aguilar (CA), Jim Cooper (TN), Bill Foster (IL), and Kurt Schrader (OR).

Yesterday there were 3 votes on the Obama/Boehner/Wall Street trade agenda. First, on Thursday, the House voted on the rule to allow the votes to go forward. It only barely passed, 217-212, only 8 Democrats, 5 of whom are New Dems, voting with the GOP majority for it. Yesterday afternoon's first bill derailed the whole process. This was the one that pushed forward blatantly stealing $700 million from Medicare to pay for job retraining for workers displaced by TPP's job-killing agenda. You'd think no self-respecting Democrats would even consider voting for this massive turd. 144 Democrats followed Pelosi (and their own consciences) to vote NO while 40 Democrats-- overwhelmingly New Dems and Blue Dogs-- followed Hoyer and Israel over to the Dark Side with the 86 Republicans. The final vote against it was 126-302. The 40 Democrats willing to wreck Medicare included New Dem Chairman Ron Kind (WI) plus all 5 of his vice-Chairs, Gerry Connolly (VA), Susan Davis (CA), Jim Himes (CT), Jared Polis (CO) and John Carney (DE). In all, of the 40 walking-dead Dems, over half were New Dems:
Brad Ashford (New Dem-NE)
Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)
Don Beyer (New Dem-VA)
John Carney (New Dem-DE)
Gerry Connolly (New Dem-VA)
Jim Cooper (New Dem-TN)
Susan Davis (New Dem-CA)
John Delaney (New Dem-MD)
Suzan DelBene (New Dem-WA)
Bill Foster (New Dem-IL)
Denny Heck (New Dem-WA)
Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)
Derek Kilmer (New Dem-WA)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Rick Larsen (New Dem-WA)
Greg Meeks (New Dem-NY)
Ed Perlmutter (New Dem-CO)
Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
Jared Polis (New Dem-CO)
Mike Quigley (New Dem-IL)
Kathleen Rice (New Dem-NY)
Cedric Richmond (New Dem-LA)
Kurt Schrader (New Dem-OR)
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
Adam Smith (New Dem-WA)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (New Dem-FL)
Two New Dems missed the vote-- Andre Carson (IN) and Juan Vargas (CA)-- and 17 New Dems were generally too scared of primaries to dare betray their own constituents on a bill with this high a national profile: Pete Aguilar (CA), Lois Capps (CA), Tony Cárdenas (CA), Joaquin Castro (TX), Joe Courtney (CT), Eliot Engel (NY), Elizabeth Esty (CT), Gwen Graham (FL), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Anne Kuster (NH), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY), Patrick Murphy (FL), Loretta Sanchez (CA), Adam Schiff (CA), David Scott (GA), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Filemon Vela (TX).

The New Dems are a cancer inside the Democratic Party. Grassroots voters should annihilate them as thoroughly as they annihilated their spiritual forefathers, the contemptible Blue Dogs. They are the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party and are consistently up to no good. There's a page for people who like seeing toxic Republicans, New Dems and Blue Dogs hunted down and defeated at the polls.

As Charles Pierce pointed out so eloquently yesterday for Esquire, You can't really understand what happened-- or appreciate what may happen next-- without taking into account the transformative effect of the economic collapse of 2008 on our politics. There now is a legitimate progressive power base within the Democratic party that no longer takes the prerogatives of the corporate class as inviolable, and that must be considered seriously by any Democratic president and by any Democratic politician. (I wouldn't have threatened primaries were I Democracy For America, but I'd also be hard-pressed not to admit it might've worked.) This is not a failure of presidential leadership. It's the assertion of political power from another direction. If that unnerves the Green Room consensus, that's too bad. The president got a bad beat, not because he is a bad president, but because, on this issue, on this Friday afternoon, he found himself trying to sell something to a constituency that has changed. I think he has the good sense to realize this and to adjust his strategy accordingly. At the very least, he will realize that what happened to him and to his agenda today was a long time coming."

Zach Carter at HuffPo shed as much light on what happened and may happen as Pierce did:
Supporters of President Barack Obama's trade agenda are searching for a new legislative strategy following Friday's embarrassing defeat. But at least one proposed tactic bouncing around Capitol Hill won't work-- simply jettisoning a key package of aid to displaced workers that Democrats just voted down.

Democrats have long supported that program, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, which provides job training and financial aid to workers who lose their jobs as a result of foreign trade deals. By voting en masse against the program on Friday, Democrats were effectively shooting the hostage. Republicans had tied passage of the TAA package to another much broader fast-track trade bill to streamline trade agreements. The bill for fast-track, known as Trade Promotion Authority, is considered essential to passing a series of trade pacts that Democrats broadly oppose. By knocking down TAA, Democrats derailed a massive trade pact sought by Obama and Republican leaders.

That's led to murmurs that Republicans could simply threaten to pass a trade facilitation bill without TAA. The GOP did, after all, demonstrate Friday that it had enough House votes to pass the fast-track bill as stand-alone legislation with a show-vote following the TAA failure. Threatening to do fast-track alone, the reasoning goes, would intimidate Democrats into voting in favor of TAA, and approving the full package.

But House Republicans don't have much leverage on TAA. If they pass a fast-track bill without TAA, the Senate will have to vote on the package in a conference committee. And supporters of Obama's trade agenda don't have the votes to approve a fast-track bill without TAA.

In May, a combined fast-track and TAA package garnered just 62 votes in the Senate-- barely enough to overcome a filibuster. And many of the few Democratic supporters on the Senate side said at the time that they would not vote for a fast-track bill that did not include TAA.

...The overwhelming majority of Democrats, a bloc of tea party Republicans, labor unions, environmental groups and Internet freedom advocates oppose Obama's trade agenda, while Republican leaders and corporate lobbyists with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support it.

UPDATE: Davos Man Headed For Extinction?

In this morning's NY Times, Krugman labeled the Democrats supporting this sick Republican/Wall Street trade agenda the Davos Democrats. He says the White House tells him that TPP is "about geopolitics, they say-- America has to be in the game here lest others (obviously including China) supplant our influence; meanwhile, they argue that the troubling aspects of the deal aren’t as troubling as they sound (they make a decent case on dispute settlement, less so on intellectual property). And they argue that the deal would actually improve labor protections in poor countries. I’m not fully convinced, but this is a reasonable discussion."
But the overall selling of TPP, to some extent by the administration and much more so by its business allies, has been nothing like this. Instead, it has been all lectures from Those Who Know How the Global Economy Works-- the kind of people who go to Davos and participate in earnest panels on the skills gap and the case for putting Alan Simpson in charge of everything-- to the ignorant hippies who don’t. You know, ignorant hippies like Joseph Stiglitz and Elizabeth Warren.

This kind of thing worked in the 1990s, when Davos Man actually did seem to know how the world works. But now Davos Democrats are known as the people who told us to trust unregulated finance and fear invisible bond vigilantes. They just don’t have the credibility to pull off arguments from authority any more. And it doesn’t say much for their perspicacity that they apparently had no idea that the world has changed.

TPP’s Democratic supporters thought they could dictate to their party like it’s 1999. They can’t.

Will Rick Lazio defeat Davos Man in 2016?

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At 8:48 AM, Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

144 Democrats followed Pelosi (and their own consciences) to vote no.

I'd like more information about that. From Gaius Publius' reporting, Nancy Pelosi did everything she could to whip up enough votes to get Fast Track approved.

Did she really lead, or did she merely realize the parade was about to run her over and turn around?

At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Did she really lead, or did she merely realize the parade was about to run her over and turn around?"


At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You refer to "this sick Republican/Wall Street trade agenda."

Isn't more accurately "Obama sick Wall Street trade agenda"?

There were 158 GOP votes to kill the attempt at "blatantly stealing $700 million from Medicare."
THAT is the story. Anyone care to explain?

John Puma

At 8:42 PM, Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

It was a pretty shitty deal to steal from Medicare to fund it, so good on the Dems for finally shooting it down.

As for the GOP, they have always opposed Federal help for unemployed workers via TAA.

Can't waste any of John Galt's money on the moochers, ya know.


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