Tuesday, March 17, 2015

TPP: Why Obama's New Best Allies on the Hill Are CEOs


Obama’s Presidential Library as envisaged by the Chicago firm HOK (view 1). Like Star Fleet Academy, but with corporate funding.

by Gaius Publius

The TPP wars are heating up on the corporate side. As the piece linked below states:
“The history of the business lobby is that it arrives late,” says Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which advocates for free trade. “But when it does, it arrives in full force.”
TPP, the "trade" deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is the next NAFTA, and "full force" time is now. The piece I'm going to quote is from Bloomberg, and it's meant to bolster and rally the "business" (corporate CEO) community to continue their frontal assault to get Fast Track legislation, and then TPP, passed. But there's good analysis and information here as well. Note as you read this the list of corporate names (which I've highlighted).

First, some background from the writer, in case TPP has been off your radar:
Why Obama's New Best Allies on the Hill Are CEOs

Before President Obama leaves office, he wants to complete two major free-trade agreements, one with Asian nations and the other with the European Union. To do it, he says he needs a guarantee from Congress that it will simply vote yes or no on any deal the White House offers, without trying to amend it. “I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair,” Obama said in his State of the Union address.

New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged, uncharacteristically, to push for a vote to give Obama the negotiating authority he wants, known as fast track. “It’s an enormous grant of power from a Republican Congress to a Democratic president, but that’s how much we believe in trade,” McConnell told reporters in early January. “This is an area where we can make progress.”
Without Fast Track, nicely framed as "trade promotion authority," the treaty is dead, since if the treaty itself were published long enough ahead of a vote for the public to understand it, no Congressperson with eyes on the next election would touch it. TPP is job-killing NAFTA on steroids, and more.

Now look who's for it, and also for Obama for being for it:
A group of cabinet members led by Jeffrey Zients, director of Obama’s National Economic Council, meets weekly to plan ways to bring recalcitrant Republicans and moderate Democrats on board. “We now have the whole cabinet involved,” says Michael Froman, the U.S. Trade Representative. “Everyone understands that it’s now an administration-wide effort.”

The White House is also enlisting help from the leaders of major corporations including ATandT, Caterpillar, and IBM. Under the leadership of the Business Roundtable, an association of U.S. CEOs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations—a major donor to Republican candidates in national elections—business leaders have launched a new group, Trade Benefits America, to mount a national campaign to give the White House more trade negotiating authority. In some ways, it reprises the push business groups made more than 20 years ago to persuade congressional Democrats to vote for the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] under President Clinton. “The history of the business lobby is that it arrives late,” says Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which advocates for free trade. “But when it does, it arrives in full force.”

In recent weeks, top officials including Froman, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew have met with dozens of executives to outline the administration’s strategy. “They demonstrated a very strong commitment,” says Tom Linebarger, chief executive officer of Cummins, a diesel engine manufacturer based in Columbus, Ind., who met with Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett at the White House in early January.
This is the neoliberal "Money First" project in high gear. You'd expect Penny Pritzker, holder of great wealth and hater of unions, to be for it; also Treasury's (and Wall Street's) Jacob Lew. But Valerie Jarrett has some of that Michelle Obama–cares about people credibility. I guess it's time to spend that credibility on something that will pay off big, like a down-the-road Obama legacy library and speaking tour.

There's a version of that library at the top of this post. Think this will come cheap? Think taxpayers will fund it? But I'll bet you can think of people who will — people like the ones listed above.

CEOs Are the Corporation; Without Them, Companies Are Just Buildings

Notice that Bloomberg focuses on CEOs as people in its headline, and in large part in the story as well. That's because Bloomberg understands two facts not widely known:
  1. CEOs and their peers, as individuals, as persons, are the corporation — they have all the control and reap almost all of the benefit. The modern corporation is likely the largest single reason we have such wealth inequality in America. Corporations are just the force-extenders; CEOs are the drivers of that force and the most hugely rewarded by it. Their take out of corporate coffers is almost predatory.
  2. If corporate CEOs ever developed real consciences, modern corporations would be 180° versions of themselves. The pathological-seeming Koch Brothers control Koch Industries, literally. They are their own stockholders. What would Koch Industries act like if you inherited total control? How fast, for example, would Koch Industries divest itself of all extractable carbon and start selling 100% renewable energy under your control?
Obama and the CEO class — always natural allies, especially when there's something they both want badly. Corporate CEOs are worth anywhere from $50 billion each (the Koch Bros) to hundreds of millions each. You know what they want. What does Obama want? We can only speculate, but we know what post-electoral Bill Clinton has — $200 million by some estimates. He also has a nice, well-financed library.

I'm sure Obama wants, at least, the library. Here's another look:

Obama’s Presidential Library as envisaged by the Chicago firm HOK (view 2)

Just like Star Fleet Academy, but with corporate funding. I wonder if Boeing will buy naming rights. They're certainly near the front of the Thank You line. (And again, not snark; just transactional politics as big people play it.)


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At 1:48 PM, Blogger Tonto2 said...

Nice building for a library, but doesn't Chicago have any unnamed sewage treatment plants that could be used?

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Procopius said...

Well, on reflection, that's how Thailand got a really great highway network and one excellent deep water port which they later decided to abandon. Back in the early 1950s the U.S. military started preparing the battlefield for their war in Vietnam. They decided to make Thailand their base camp. It hasn't worked out quite the way they intended, since they blew their war in Vietnam, but it's one of the few things the American military has done that actually benefitted people. Didn't work out nearly so well for Laos or Cambodia.

At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The library isn't the point


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