Editor’s Note: The U.S. Senate is voting on fast-track today. Call your Senators, Representatives, and sign the petition to say no to fast-track. Listen to Kevin Mahoney’s interview on the Rick Smith Show about Obama’s attack on progressives HERE.
Last Friday, President Obama went to Nike – the poster-child for abusive, sweatshop labor conditions overseas – to give his hard sell for the mother-of-all-corporate-free-trade-agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
On Thursday night, Rachel Maddow was banking on Obama having “something up his sleeve,” by choosing Nike as the high-profile location to push for the “very controversial” trade deal that has the president pitted against progressives in his own party – progressives such as Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sherrod Brown (OH), and Alan Grayson (FL). Here’s how Maddow previewed Obama’s visit:
President Obama’s visit to Oregon tonight is because he is going to Nike. Nike. Nike is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon. Nike is a very large company. It has about 26,000 employees in the United States. But, the number of employees they have over seas just completely dwarfs their workforce at home…They’ve got a million people working for them over seas in contract factories where the pay and the labor standards are generally terrible. And, that kind of business arrangement – where even iconically American products get made over seas because it’s more profitable to have the work done in places with terrible wages and terrible labor standards – that age-old dynamic, which has killed off huge swaths of working class and middle class American jobs over the last few decades, that dynamic, many people worry, will get even worse than it is now if this big twelve country Asia trade deal goes through, which the president favors…
President Obama, mark my words, clearly has something up his sleeve here…He is going to Nike headquarters tomorrow and it is at Nike where he is going to give his speech tomorrow about why people should support his very controversial Asia trade deal. Nike is the poster child for why people are freaked out about that deal. Nike is the poster child for why labor and Democrats and people on the left and people in the center are opposed to that trade deal in considerable numbers.
There must be something up his sleeves. This is too obviously counter-intuitive, right? It would be like him announcing the approval of the Keystone Pipeline at the site of a pipeline spill. It doesn’t make sense for him to go to a company that has sent all of its jobs to Vietnam to make the case for a trade deal that will make it even easier for American companies to send all their jobs to Vietnam. So, it can’t be what it seems like.
Listen to Kevin Mahoney’s interview on the Rick Smith Show right here:
So, perhaps Obama’s visit to Nike was to reveal some concrete details about how we would not repeat the mistakes of past trade deals like NAFTA or the Colombian Free Trade Agreement? Or maybe he was going to provide evidence that TPP will not repeat the mistakes of the World Trade Organization of allowing secret tribunals to allow transnational corporations to run roughshod over our nation’s (and other nation’s) democratically enacted laws? Maybe Obama was going to finally let the world know, specifically, why he’s so in love with the TPP?
The purpose of Obama’s visit to Nike was to provide a forum to bloody his progressive opponents while they are gagged with their hands tied behind their backs. Obama’s visit to Nike was a glitzy public relations stunt to try to persuade all the armchair liberals our there that this is a “new kind of trade deal” and all his critics are “just wrong.” I mean, why else would Obama be making his case from Nike? “We’re designing a different kind of trade deal,” Obama said is his speech. Obama gave five reasons why his critics are wrong:
- The criticism that the TPP will cost American jobs is based upon “some past experience, looking at what happened in the 90’s, over the last 20 years.” But this is a “different kind of trade deal.”
- Critics “just say NAFTA” when asked why they oppose the TPP. But, Obama contends, “this agreement fixes some of what was wrong with NAFTA by making labor and environmental provisions actually enforceable.”
- Critics say “it’s a secret deal.” Obama says “that’s not true.” It will be posted online “for at least 60 days” before he signs it.
- Obama said that critics who say the TPP “would undermine American regulation – food safety, worker safety, even financial regulations” are simply “making this stuff up.”
- And, finally, Obama says that those people focused on “currency manipulation” as the real problem, as basically not paying attention to what his administration has done.
So, that’s Obama’s case. What’s his evidence? Evidence? C’mon. Just “trust me,” was the whole point of his performance. No need for evidence when you can stand up in front of hundreds of Nike employees and make them all laugh at just how snarky you can be to progressives.
Here’s the thing. Obama is asking all of us – everyone who cares to pay attention – to just trust him and everything will be OK. But, really, his Nike speech was really political blood-shedding to push just enough of his critics over to his side to get them to pass “fast-track authority” this week, so they can bring his corporate-free-trade-baby into being. As Public Citizen has said, fast-track was and is “an extreme and rarely used procedure originally created by Richard Nixon to get around public debate and Congressional oversight.” By voting in favor of fast-track, Congress basically hands over its Constitutional authority to “regulate commerce with foreign nations” (knows as the Commerce Clause) to the president. Giving fast-track authority to the president would mean that Congress’s role in approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership is limited to a yes or no vote. They have no ability to alter the agreement – just vote yes or no.
What are they voting yes or no on? Sorry, can’t say. You see, the deal is being negotiated in secret, dominated by over 400 corporate lobbyists and hand-picked, pro-corporate-traders. We the people – you know, those first three words of our Constitution – are cut off from the deliberative process. Democracy is reduced to an on/off switch.
The “critics” that Obama is so keen on belittling have been pretty consistent in their message: If this really is a “different kind of trade deal” that does not repeat the devastating mistakes of NAFTA and every other free-trade agreement since, well, Mr. President, release the text of the agreement for all Americans to read. If’ it’s so good, what’s to hide?
Oh, I forgot, “trust me,” is Obama’s response.
In a weekend interview with the Greg Sargent of the Washington Post’s Plum Line blog, Elizabeth Warren was not playing ball.
WARREN: The president said in his Nike speech that he’s confident that when people read the agreement for themselves, that they’ll see it’s a great deal. But the president won’t actually let people read the agreement for themselves. It’s classified.
PLUM LINE: But don’t you get 60 days to review it after the deal is finalized, with the authority to revoke fast track?
WARREN: The president has committed only to letting the public see this deal after Congress votes to authorize fast track. At that point it will be impossible for us to amend the agreement or to block any part of it without tanking the whole TPP. The TPP is basically done. If the president is so confident it’s a good deal, he should declassify the text and let people see it before asking Congress to tie its hands on fixing it.
You got that? Obama is asking Congress to sign away their rights before being allowed to publicly discuss the agreement – and, more importantly, before any of us get to see it. You know, “we the people,” and all.
The first vote on giving Obama fast-track authority is taking place in the U.S. Senate TODAY. And, Obama has some pretty powerful allies. Republican allies. You know, those folks like Mitch McConnell – the very people who have been doing their best to scuttle any progressive legislation since Obama took office. You know, the party of “no.” The Koch Brother lap dogs that have been distorting our national politics for 7 years. Yeah, they are all on-board the Obama train for fast track. How does Obama explain his new-found affinity for Mitch McConnell and his anti-Obama cronies?
“Trust me,” says Obama.
Sorry. We’ve been down that road before. Not gonna happen.
Call your Representatives and Senators today and tell them “NO” to fast track. If Obama want’s this thing so bad, release the text and let’s have an open and honest debate about what’s in the TPP. Then we’ll think about a vote on fast-track.
TAKE ACTION NOW:
Sign the petition – say no to fast-track: RIGHT HERE
Find and contact your Senator: RIGHT HERE
Find and contact your Representative: RIGHT HERE