Tuesday, February 09, 2016

TPP And You And Me... And Hillary


Now that Democrats loudly and overwhelmingly oppose the TPP, Hillary claims that what she once called "the gold standard" of trade agreements is something that she too opposes. Once again, she's rushing to get to the head of a parade that started long ago-- and way after the bloodiest battles were fought. Are people catching on-- and by "people" I exclude those on her payroll or on the list of job-seekers-- to what she is, and always has been?

Now she's an opponent of the banksters who have showered her political campaigns with $39,278,192-- and God only knows how much in speakers' fees and other completely unethical legalistic bribes. When she was a senator, progressives all opposed the GOP's credit card company written bankruptcy bill, which was terrible for working families and wonderful for her corporate and millionaire donors. In September she claimed she voted with the Republicans "to protect women and children"-- a standard excuse she uses for her whole wretched, Republ;ican-lite voting record-- and because Joe Biden (virtually a career-long lobbyist for the credit card companies incorporated in Delaware) told her to. Senate progressives like Paul Wellstone (MN), Ted Kennedy (MA), Russ Feingold (WI), Dick Durbin (IL), Chris Dodd (CT), John Kerry (MA), Tom Harkin (IA), Paul Sarbanes (MD) and John Reed (RI) voted against this awful bill but Clinton was more comfortable voting with notorious Wall Street whores like Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Trent Lott (R-MS), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jesse Helms (R-NC), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and, of course, Chuck Schumer (D-NY). She hasn't changed; that is exactly who she is.

During the 2008 primary Obama delighted in pointing out that her alliance with the Republicans and banksters "put the interests of those banks and financial institutions ahead of the interests of the American people." That's Hillary; it always has been and always will be. Here's little Miss Centrist-- ex-Goldwater Gal, ex-president of the Wellesley College Young Republicans-- with Joe Scarborough when they were pals and before he turned his MSNBC morning show into a Clinton Hate Zone.

In 2015 progressives were fighting tooth and nail to stop Fast Track Authority for the TPP. Hillary was generally supportive of the bad guys of course, but afraid it could harm her in the primary, so she laid low. In the House, Fast Track passed narrowly 218-208-- just 10 votes shy of being defeated. 50 Republicans voted against it, which would have been more than enough to kill it. But then a pack of Hillary allies-- all of them are now on her congressional Leadership Committee today-- led by New Dems Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), Jim Himes (CT) and Jim Cooper (TN)-- came to the rescue and it passed.

Interestingly, last week the Communications Workers of America, one of the more progressive nation labor unions, has stated unequivocally that they're not endorsing Members of Congress who voted for Fast Track authority. They have already targeted Ami Bera (New Dem-CA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).
By voting to Fast Track the TPP, Johnson and Bera relinquished their constitutional responsibility to debate and offer amendments to this destructive trade agreement that was negotiated in secret for more than five years. They sided with corporate lobbyists and big business, instead of the constituents who asked for their help: workers, veterans, environmentalists, community activists and others.

In Texas, Dallas unions won't endorse Johnson. CWA worked with other unions at the recent AFL-CIO COPE conference, making it clear why Johnson didn't deserve the labor movement's endorsement, said CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings.

In California, Democrats are making sure that Bera is held accountable for his vote. First, two local Democratic clubs in Bera's district voted not to endorse his reelection bid. Now, Sacramento County Democratic Party activists have decided not to endorse him, either. By not reaching the 70 percent threshold needed to secure their support-- a huge setback for an incumbent-- Bera will now have to beg for Democrats' nod at the party convention at the end of this month.

"This is an obvious showing that delegates in the district are not happy with Congressman Bera's voting record," Robert Longer, political and legislative director for the CWA Local 9421 told the Sacramento Bee. "Normally, this is a matter of course; normally, he would have received the endorsement no problem. However... about 40 percent of the delegates decided that no endorsement is better than endorsing."

"I think Congressman Bera needs to do some soul searching as to whether he's a real Democrat, or not. If he believes in the district, he will connect with the voters, he will connect with the folks that got him into office. Otherwise, he will have to find another job," Longer said.

Needless to say, both Bera and Johnson are on the Hillary leadership teams in their states. The 700,000 members of the union voted and decided to endorse Bernie for president. Union president Chris Shelton: "Our politics and economy have favored Wall Street, the wealthy and powerful for too long. CWA members, like voters across America, are saying we can no longer afford business as usual. Bernie has called for a political revolution-- and that is just what Americans need today. Bernie Sanders stands with working families against corporate greed, against Wall Street and the big banks, against politics as usual. He stands against the flood of money in politics that’s corrupting our democracy and attacking the right to vote. He knows that we have to take on the rich and powerful special interests to turn around this economy and end the 40 years of stagnant wages that working families have endured. He’s the candidate who can do it, and we are going to help him. When CWA endorses a candidate it is just the beginning. Our 700,000 members are fired up, and we are going to work overtime to elect Bernie Sanders as the next President of the United States."

In 2014 the CWA gave Bera and Johnson $10,000 each towards their reelection campaigns. In 2012 and 2010 they had given Bera $10,000 each cycle and Johnson $6,000 in 2010 and $2,500 in 2012. So far this year the CWA have contributed $459,000 to Democratic House candidates but conspicuously none to Bera, Johnson and other New Dems and Blue Dogs who voted for Fast Track-- no money for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, no money for Kathleen Rice, no money for Ron Kind, no money for Derek Kilmer, no money for John Delaney, Jim Himes, Scott Peters, Jim Cooper, Jim Costa, Kurt Schrader, John Beyer, Gerry Connolly, Henry Cuellar, Rick Larsen, Greg Meeks and Collin Peterson, almost all of whom got thousands of dollars from the union in their last elections. Just hours ago the AFL-CIO released a blistering memo to its members reiterating why the TPP had to be stopped:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a so-called “trade deal” that could cost 448,000 U.S. jobs, suppress U.S. wages, and irreparably weaken our democracy and sovereignty.

Yet U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is trying to get your member of Congress to vote for it. To win the vote, he is uniting with “Republican-friendly organizations” to win votes from the Republican side of the aisle, while ignoring many Democrats who stand with working families.

If this deal is so great for working people, why are labor unions and many environmental, consumer and human rights organizations united against it, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Fashion Industry Association (representing apparel importers) and other business groups are for it?  Can you recall a time when these special interest groups worked hard to create more American jobs and raise our wages? I can’t. So we shouldn’t believe their empty promises this time, either.

The evidence on corporate-driven trade is in: it fails working families. The United States already is a member of an international trade deal known as the World Trade Organization, and a number of smaller deals called free trade agreements (FTAs). In 2015, the U.S. goods and services trade deficit with the world hit a new record high, $531.5 billion. This figure includes goods trade deficits with WTO partner China ($365.7 billion) and trade deal partners Canada ($14.9 billion), Mexico ($58.4 billion) and South Korea ($28.3 billion).

Trade deficits cost jobs. It’s as simple as that. But Congress is being asked to approve another trade agreement that incorporates the same failed trade rules we already have. Instead of falling for another deficit-increasing, job-killing, wage-cutting trade deal, let’s stand up and fight against it.

  Join the fight against TPP today.
Yesterday, during an interview with Real News Network, Alan Grayson pointed out that the TPP is "a disaster for the American middle class. If we do nothing you can kiss this country goodbye. We're already $11 trillion in debt to foreign countries. That's almost $40,000 for every man, woman, and child in this country. What if they came to you tomorrow and said, we want our $40,000 back? What would you do? Most Americans would be horrified by that, but that is the condition we're already in. We're already there. And the TPP takes that bad status quo and makes it that much worse." He pointed out that passage would accelerate "the export of jobs out of the United States... it's not really free trade anymore, it's fake trade. What's happening is that we are buying the goods and services produced by foreign workers. But they're not buying an equal amount of goods and services from America. Instead they're lending us the money, we're borrowing the money, and that drives us deeper and deeper into debt, over $1 billion every single day. Every day we're another billion dollars into debt to foreigners. If we had no trade deficit, that would be a different story. But the TPP would actually make our trade deficit that much worse. It certainly doesn't help to solve the problem. We need to be running trade surpluses, not trade deficits. The world is running a con game on America. And that con game is thank you very much, America, your purchasing power and your willingness to drive yourself into debt is putting tens of millions of foreign workers to work, and to hell with the American worker... It's multinational corporations that are doing this, driving us deeper and deeper into debt. And the endgame is very simple, it's cheap labor. It's debt slavery. And it's national bankruptcy. That's where we're actually heading, unless we get off the fast track to hell called TPP."

Thanks to the fast track legislation the president can force a vote on it before the end of the year. What's happened is McConnell has told him he doesn't want to see it before the election. But between the election and January 3rd is the lame duck session. And if the president lines it up properly, given the fast track legislation, the president can force a vote on this.

Now, I don't know if he really wants to do that, because he may very well lose. Last year during the president's State of the Union address when he talked about this, these trade giveaways, it was the only time during the speech the Republicans got up and cheered, and Democrats stayed utterly silent. You could hear a pin drop on our side of the room. This year, when he talked about it, he lost the Republicans as well. The only people who stood up and applauded him were his own cabinet. You can go to the tape and you can check that out. It was really shocking to see even the Republicans abandoning the president on these giveaways to multinational corporations.

So he brings it up now with every Democrat, and also every Republican other than John Kasich, who is a Republican candidate for president, going against this. It should go down to defeat. You can bet that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, these are all people who are going to understand that it's a device for them, politically, to be able to work against the president, and to be able to supposedly stand up for the working man. Although that's a farce when you're talking about any of the three of them, particularly the one whose catch phrase is “You're fired.”

But in any event, I think that given the fact that all of the three primary Republican candidates, plus the two Democratic candidates for president that remain in the race, all of them are now against TPP, makes it politically impossible to bring it up before the lame duck session.
You can listen to the whole Grayson interview here at DWT late tonight (9pm Pacific Time) or catch it in the morning when you wake up. If you agree with Grayson, you can contribute to his Senate campaign here through ActBlue.

Last week Elizabeth Warren came out strongly against passage. In fact, exactly a week ago today she said "I hope Congress will use its constitutional authority to stop this deal before it makes things even worse and even more dangerous for America's hardest-working families" and said it "would tilt the playing field even more in favor of a big multinational corporations and against working families." This is a real issue for a lot of people and everyone knows that Bernie's been on the right side and the other one hasn't been.
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