Monday, April 27, 2015

Warren Tells Obama To Put Up Or Shut Up On Trade


by Gaius Publius

Your Open Rebellion Caucus at work, featuring Dem-on-Dem violence on trade. As usual, the press is enjoying this, and those opposed to TPP appreciate the spotlight. Thanks are due to President Obama for being so obvious about what he wants, and for not downplaying Sen. Warren's fierce objections to this next-NAFTA job-killing "trade" deal.

First, the setup — President Obama has been unusually aggressive with members of his own party on trade and his eagerly sought TPP deal. My ongoing coverage of TPP is here; click if you'd like some background. Now the latest, per Zach Carter at Huffington Post (my emphasis):
Elizabeth Warren Tells Obama To Put Up Or Shut Up On Trade

Progressive Democrats have been hoping to see a showdown between Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton for years. Instead, they're getting a public feud between the senator from Massachusetts and President Barack Obama.

Obama accused Warren and congressional Democrats on Friday of being "dishonest" and spreading "misinformation" about the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- a trade pact the administration is negotiating among 12 nations. The overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress oppose TPP, while Republican leaders support it.

It was an unusually aggressive attack for the president -- accusing members of his own party not of having misplaced priorities, but of actively working to deceive the public. Obama is rarely so severe even with his Republican opponents. Obama said that the Democratic criticism that "gets on [his] nerves the most" is the notion that his TPP pact is "secret," and went on to insist that the terms of TPP will help American workers.
As many have recently discovered, perhaps to their surprise, when Obama really wants something, he really tries to get it. (Does this give the lie to progressive excuses, that the president wants more progressive policies than he settles for, but is too timid to negotiate for them? I'll let you decide.)

The current battle is between Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown, the once-again leaders of "open rebellion" in the Senate — in-your-face rejection of pro-wealth policies pushed by Democratic Party leaders. Warren and Brown's position? Mr. Obama, you say the TPP deal isn't a "secret." Put up or shut up — show the public the treaty before we vote on Fast Track. Or, as Huffington Post put it:
On Saturday, Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded with a letter essentially telling Obama to put up or shut up. If the deal is so great, Warren and Brown wrote, the administration should make the full negotiation texts public before Congress votes on a "fast track" bill that would strip the legislative branch of its authority to amend it.

"Members of Congress should be able to discuss the agreement with our constituents and to participate in a robust public debate, instead of being muzzled by classification rules," Warren and Brown wrote in the letter obtained by The Huffington Post. ...

"Your Administration has deemed the draft text of the agreement classified and kept it hidden from public view, thereby making it a secret deal," the letter reads. "It is currently illegal for the press, experts, advocates, or the general public to review the text of this agreement. And while you noted that Members of Congress may 'walk over ... and read the text of the agreement' -- as we have done -- you neglected to mention that we are prohibited by law from discussing the specifics of that text in public."
Obama has been aggressive in defending this billionaires' dream, perhaps because of this:

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

Regardless, the next move is his. If past is prologue, it will be coming soon. His robotic OFA forces (that's not an unfair characterization on this issue, unfortunately) are out in number, throwing up Obama's disingenuous defense of this treaty in many progressive forums. (For a prime instance, see comment threads like this at Daily Kos. There are many such examples of OFA pushback in progressive discussion spaces.)

A question for OFA defenders of TPP: You've shown your loyalty — it's to Obama and his future earnings, not your own as progressives in the "Warren wing" of the Democratic Party. What will you do when Obama is off living his future, and you're left behind to seek your own among the progressives you're now disingenuously attacking? Do you think they'll remember you the way Ro Khanna is remembered, for example?

Did "progressive" ex-OFA media shop 270 Strategies help Ro Khanna craft this message? (Click to enlarge; source)

Dem-on-Dem Violence: What Will Happen in the Senate?

Fast Track is coming to the Senate floor. Regardless of what Obama does, Democratic senators are going to have to show, once again, who they stand for — the richest of the rich, or American workers, small business, and, yes, national sovereignty. We've seen a lot of these opportunities for the Democratic Party to define itself. Fast Track is yet another.

Here are your corporate Democrats so far, based on their pro–Fast Track votes in the Senate Finance Committee:
  • Ron Wyden — Ranking Member and lead perp
  • Michael Bennet — former head of DSCC
  • Maria Cantwell
  • Ben Cardin
  • Tom Carper
  • Bill Nelson
  • Mark Warner
The current Senate holds 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats and 2 Independents (Sanders and King, the latter of whom often votes "corporate"). One Republican, Richard Burr (N.C.), voted No on Fast Track in committee. Let's assume all remaining Republicans vote Yes, and Burr holds firm as a No. That makes 53 Republicans plus seven Democrats voting Yes — so, 60 votes for Fast Track on the floor. Enough to break a filibuster, with zero margin for error or defection.

Your questions of the remaining Democrats:
  1. Who will join the filibuster and vote No on cloture, when the TV lights are off?
  2. Who will vote No on the floor vote, when the TV lights are on?
  3. Who will vote both ways — Yes to help end the filibuster, but No in a public-but-losing attempt to prevent the inevitable passage?
The real vote will be on cloture, a vote to end the Warren- and Brown-led filibuster. Any Democratic senator who votes to end the filibuster (where the threshold is 60 votes), yet votes No on the bill (where the threshold is 51 votes) ... is not your progressive friend. A Yes to end the filibuster means a No on the floor vote is "for show." Watch the voting, then make a list.

Watch also for Democrats voting with Republicans even when their votes aren't needed to pass Fast Track. Those could be early applications for corporate funding in their own next election.

After this, the circus moves to the House, where the Paul Ryan–led Ways and Means Committee takes up the Fast Track bill. In the House, many Republicans are opposed. Will it pass? Stay tuned.

What About Wyden?

In my humble estimation, Wyden needs to be dealt with, whether TPP ultimately passes or not. Some votes are regrettable but forgivable, some are very regrettable but forgivable, and some, like this one, should never be forgiven. Similar to NAFTA, TPP will devastate American workers (and line CEO silk pockets) for the next 20 years, after your children have children.

Sen. Ron Wyden, the designated Democratic perp on TPP

Wyden's seat is up in 2016. Many progressives in Oregon will not vote for Wyden, even in the general election. Others are actively looking to replace him in the primary. Care to tell Ron Wyden which side of either of those fences you're on? Here where to send a message:

Senator Ron Wyden
221 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C., 20510
tel (202) 224-5244
fax (202) 228-2717

Be polite, but be honest. And if you're from Oregon, tell him you vote.


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At 12:59 PM, Blogger jo6pac said...

Thank You

At 6:46 AM, Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

and some, like this one, should never be forgiven.

True of Wyden. And even more true of Obama. Remember the 'eleventy-dimensional chess' nonsense his fans floated when he created the Catfood Commission?

Good times. Obama was a bait-and-switch sellout from day one.

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

obamination once again... performing his assigned tasks for the .01%. This time without even a hint of a "Democrat's" façade. This guy is a total lie, his recent moves wrt Iran and Cuba notwithstanding.

It's, of course, understandable about Iran and Cuba when you look at it from the money's perspective. American money lusts after their Caribean Atlantic City after 60 years... and big oil and banking lust for Iran's economy.

TPP and TTIP will be obamination's true legacy. Not ACA, though that WAS his gift to corporate health care (denial for profit)... not marriage equality (he was against it before he was kinda for it)... not DADT nor DOMA (military and courts did those in spite of his positions against)...

Obamination's legacy will be his relentless maintenance of the status quo in banking and bankers... and the freeing of capital to move anywhere in the world to seek easy profit at the expense of everything and everyone else. He already got FTAs with Korea and some other minor-ish ones (costing several 100s of Ks of jobs). TPP and TTIP will be his crowning achievement... and his meal ticket for the rest of his family's existence.

And, please, don't bother to plead for us lowly 99.99%ers to write to Wyden about this. He knows which side his bread is buttered on... and it isn't us holding the butter knife.

He doesn't give a steaming pile whether he gets re-elected or not. He gets this through the senate Ds (NOT such a tall order, btw) and his future is assured by the corporate titans he is enriching.

At 6:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Obama is successful in selling America's birthright for a mess of pottage, no non-white non-male non-Republican will ever again occupy the Oval Office. The GOP will continuously hammer home the message that the Kenyan Democrat Obama sold the nation down the river, and the cowardly Democrats will be too busy looking to grab a piece of the action to care. Add in FOX, and the sheeple will do as they are led to do - keep the corporatists in power.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Prosanto Mukerji said...

we need Elizabeth W. to shut up Obama
I had voted twice for the president.


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