Give the Democratic Trade Turncoats Hell Over Fast Track Vote

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After a rare show of spine yesterday, Senate Democrats blocked the Administration plan to bring the Fast Track authorization, which would effectively secure passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, to a debate. This was a bloody nose to Obama. Knowing that the House had the potential to be a battleground for the bill, the Adminstration chose to originate it in the Senate, with the idea that they’d get swift passage with a comfortable majority which would help persuade fence-sitters and weak opponents. Instead, the fight in the Senate went much better than the trade deal’s opponents dared hoped, tuning into a high-profile drama and showing how deep-seated opposition to the bill is.

Today, Obama got ten Democratic senators to flip their votes without giving them the concession that they had wanted, that of passing a set of other trade-related provisions along with Fast Track authorization. As we indicated yesterday, one of the changes they had wanted, putting more stringent sanctions in place against foreign government currency manipulation, was anathema to the Administration. So after what appears to have been no more than a dressing down, ten Democratic party senators relented, giving Obama a clear path to moving Fast Track authorization to a vote in the Senate.

Now do not forget that the key vote was and remains in the House. As Lori Wallach of Public Citizen, which has done impressive, sustained work on trade deals over the years, said on Democracy Now yesterday morning, before Obama won over his Judases:

But it’s not over. It’s going to come back up for another repackaging. It was a very important signal, because the whole point in going to the Senate was to show, oh, fast track has momentum, because in the House it’s in real, honest-to-God trouble. In the Senate, it’s more like skirmishes, that show how extremely well the public has done in making their senators, as well as their House members, wary of doing this trade vote. But in the Senate, eventually they will get the vote. In the House, different piece of business. And so, folks who don’t want to see fast track, the House is the place to focus. But for the next couple of weeks, call your senators, because it’s an interesting food fight.

It is important to let the ten turncoat Senators know that their constituents tell them that they are supposed to represent their interest, and not carry water for the President. As Lambert noted in comments yesterday:

One of signs that the Roman Republic was in terminal decay was that the Senate stopped insisting on its institutional prerogatives. Ceasar Augustus, being very smart, stabilized the imperial system by restoring the forms of their institutional power, but never the substance.

So if the Senate wants to stay the Senate, they need to whack Obama on this, hard. That’s why Warren pointing out the absurdity of (substantively) passing the bill by approving Fast Track, and then (formally) passing it without the power to amend it, is such a powerful argument.

Therefore, in addition to calling your Representative (contact information here) be SURE to call your Senators if they are one of the traitors whose sellout was critical to Obama expecting to pass Fast Track later today. As reader Ulysses wrote:

These are the ten Senate Dems who were in a White House meeting, earlier today, and enlisted to assist the GOP with giving President Obama fast-track approval tomorrow: Tom Carper (Del), and Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).

I appeal to anyone who lives in any of these Senators’ states to contact them and urge them not to give fast-track authority tomorrow!! Carper and Wyden are probably lost causes, but the rest of them may be susceptible to constituent pressure.

Actually, a Congressional source recommended concentrating on Wyden, since he is up for reelection in 2016 and a lynchpin player. While he indeed is not likely to flip, he’ll should be made to feel (correctly) that he is at risk for doing the President’s bidding. Here are the Senate contact details. Please call as early in the day as you can, and keep calling daily as long as the bill is being debated. If you Senator was and remains on the right side of Fast Track, as in against it (see the roll call here), it would be good, as reader John Yard pointed out, to thank them and urge them to take a tough stand in the debates (forceful statements against the bill will help with the House fight).

And it is also important to remember that the game is more complex than just the US votes, and the realistic possibility of defeating Fast Track in the House. Even this one-day drama has has dented the momentum Abe has been trying to generate for the TPP in Japan, which is critical to getting the pact finalized. If Japan is out, plenty of other countries will pass as well. The more the opponents can do to make the bill look in doubt in the US and delay passage, the more it make the uphill battle Abe has in Japan to garner support for the TPP even more difficult. As Clive wrote:

The fast-track was pretty much essential for Japan to continue in negotiations for the TPP in anything like a serious manner. The Japanese negotiationg team had signalled that, to cut to the chase, no fasttrack-y, no deal-y.

From today’s Nikkei (subscription required for full article, but the high-level intro gives the gist):

The participating countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) will have seen the passing of the TPA bill as essential to conclusion [of the negotiations], so the delay of the bill is likely to also have the effect of [delaying] those TPP negotiations.

Ignore all those “will have seens” and “likely tos” — without fast-track authority, the USTR cannot keep his face straight in claiming to be negotiating with any sort of authority if whatever he says has to now be picked over by a — demonstrably — cynical and willing to be obstinate Senate. While the TPP is certainly by no means deceased in terms of the participating countries, they won’t be rushing to invest serious impetus in the negotiations until they believe that Obama can swing a deal on the terms which his team is actually negotiating around.

In keeping with Clive’s long-standing observation that the Japanese press is keenly attuned to whether Obama can get the TPP through Congress (and whether the process is contested), the Japan Times, which tends to be more pro-US than other Japanese publications, today ran an editorial, No need for haste on TPP deal. The Japanese are masters of using caution and delay as cover for opposition. The Nikkei and Japan Times articles are proof that the Japanese are aware that their options are still open.

Please share your messages to your Congresscritters and their responses in the comments section. They help make it easier for other readers to make calls and also to craft cogent arguments to persuade family, friends, and colleagues to join them. We’ll do a “Hall of Shame” post if readers provide us with enough examples of rancid defenses of Fast Track.

One reader recommended using the Facebook page for your alma mater to help educate a broader circle that might not understand that these deals are not about trade and are direct attack on national sovereignity and consumer and environmental protection.

And again, thanks for your efforts so far in this important fight, and keep the pressure on!

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  1. Downunderer

    I second the headline, even though the post is still incomplete.

    If the turncoat senators who are representing megacorps rather than the people get enough hell from constituents, it may make it easier for any swing votes in the House to swing the right way when that battle comes. I take it as a mark of Yves’ sincerity and depth of feeling that she must have hit a ‘publish’ key prematurely here, and I urge readers who have even a trace of influence (I can’t even vote there anymore) to communicate that sense of outrage and urgency where it will matter the most.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It launched prematurely. I have to schedule posts as the best way to work around WordPress bugs and was unduly optimistic as to when I’d wind up completing it. Hopefully this sort of thing will not happen often.

    2. Oregoncharles

      It’s working – Wyden’s phone is busy. Couldn’t get through, will try again later. I’ll call Merkley, too; he still hasn’t committed to anything.
      I plan to thank Wyden for the huge present he’s giving the Green Party; this may swing the unions our way, a huge deal. And it’s such rich campaign material.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I took the liberty of sending about half your article, with a link, to most of the lists I’m on. Wyden will be hearing from a LOT of people.
          And thanks for your work.

          1. edmondo

            And after they complain to him, they will all mark their ballots for him next November. He must laugh at you people.

            1. Oregoncharles

              We shall see. The Pacific Green Party normally gets around 2% on state-wide positions, just for appearing. If, for instance, we get the unions behind us (and they’re furious), it could be a lot more than that.

              2% can swing an election – ask Gordon Smith, our last Republican senator. Double that, and he could be in real trouble unless the Republicans throw it (as they did for Merkley and the Gov. last year.)

              I’m sure Wyden feels as safe as you say – but there’s still a wait to get through on the phone, and a very cheerless intern answering it. If you make people mad enough, all bets are off.

            2. different clue

              Maybe not. If enough Dparty voters can be brought to feel enough deep-seated hatred for the Obamacrat traitor Wyden, then even if they can’t quite bring themselves to vote Green or Republican as effective means of revenge against Wyden, they may find themselves unable to vote for Wyden. They may leave the Senatorial section unvoted-on.

              And of course bitter Democrats can always try to primary Wyden before his election. Perhaps that can generate enough bitterness and hatred to destroy Wyden’s election even if it doesn’t replace Wyden as Dnominee.

  2. Kevin

    I know a lot of people think Obama is in league with the devil, but merely mentioni

  3. Paul P

    These guys never sleep. They are back already, working things out.

    Senate Dems Float Compromise After Rejecting Obama’s TPP
    By Alexander Bolton and Vicki Needham, The Hill
    13 May 15

    ALSO SEE: Behind the Scenes of the Failed TPP

    enate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D) are proposing a compromise to move forward on President Obama’s trade agenda, which suffered a serious setback Tuesday.

    Reid and Schumer are proposing to pull language addressing currency manipulation from a customs and enforcement bill that Democrats insist must be included in a package of legislation along with fast-track authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance.

    In return, they want the Senate to hold a vote on stand-alone legislation cracking down on currency manipulation before moving to the larger trade package, which would include fast-track, TAA, a pared-down customs bill, and a package of trade preferences for African nations, according to a Democratic leadership aide.

    Reid and Schumer floated the idea, and Schumer suggested it to Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) late Tuesday afternoon.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) did not respond directly to the Democratic offer in remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. He urged Democrats to allow the debate on the package he and other Republicans favor, which includes only fast-track authority and TAA.

    “Hardly anyone believes there is a serious policy leg for these folks to stand on,” McConnell said of Senate Democrats who blocked the start of the trade debate.

    McConnell said attaching the customs and enforcement bill to the fast-track and TAA would derail those measures, but did not comment specifically on a customs bill stripped of currency manipulation language.

    “The demand to merge four separate trade bills, including a customs bill into one trade bill isn’t a strategy designed to pass better trade legislation but a poison pill designed to kill it. So we certainly won’t be doing that,” he said.

    Senate Democrats dealt Obama’s trade agenda a blow Tuesday when the entire caucus, with the exception of Sen. Tom Carper (Del.), voted to sustain a filibuster on the motion to begin the trade debate.

    They refused to let the trade package come to the floor unless it included all four bills passed last month out of the Senate Finance Committee.

    Obama met with a group of pro-trade Democrats at the White House Tuesday afternoon in an effort to secure their support. He sat down with Carper and Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), the senior Democrat on the Finance panel and co-author of fast-track legislation.

    Lawmakers have pushed for several years to include currency manipulation provisions in trade deals that would increase the likelihood of penalties against trading partners engaging in the practice.

    Right now there’s no way to use trade rules to stop a country from lowering the value of their currency to gain a global advantage. Companies such as Ford want a mechanism that would halt the practice when it’s discovered.

    The Democratic leadership aide predicted a stand-alone currency manipulation bill would pass the Senate. The House would then decide whether to attach it to the larger trade package.

    “It would then be up to the House,” said the aide. “It could be a condition of what people demand to vote for the trade package.”

    The White House, leery of a possible trade dispute with China, has urged lawmakers not to attach currency manipulation language to fast-track authority. Many Republicans also oppose doing so.

    “What we have indicated is that we believe that there’s a better way for us to resolve concerns related to currency,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters this week.

    “The concern that we have about some of the approaches that are currently being discussed on Capitol Hill is that they could be used to effectively undermine the independence of the Federal Reserve,” he added.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      I’m surprised people clung so quickly to Harry Reid’s “not only no but he’ll no” declaration on TPA. Reid always bends like a reed in the slightest current, and it seems almost as if the more emphatic his principled stand, the more vociferius his protests, the more quickly he concedes. It’s odd to have such an invertebrate leader.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        It’s a misnomer to call the Dems “turncoats”, which is defined as “a person who changes to the opposite party or faction”. Dems have not turned or changed in the slightest, they continue to steadfastly represent their sole constituents: global multi-nationals engaged in spying, war production, financial market manipulations, and offshoring American manufacturing jobs as fast as they can.
        It’s nice to imagine we could have a political party that would represent the actual people in the country in a functioning representative democracy…but the Dems are most certainly not it.
        The recent train wrecks are the perfect metaphor for America: $411 million for a single fighter jet that doesn’t work and is completely mismatched for its mission to bomb goat herders on the other side of the planet, while the trains, bridges, highways, airports, and power grids that keep the actual country working completely fall apart.

  4. cwaltz

    3 of those 10 are up for re election this year. Bennet, Murray and Wyden should all be challenged for their seats if they vote for this. I’d also send a letter to the DNC letting them know that you’ll be making a donation to the Green Party instead of them since their position is that selling us all out is a good thing.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Kaine too, and it’s next year. Considering Kaine polled 20 points below Warner, he isn’t going to find a welcoming atmosphere.

      1. cwaltz

        He was elected in 2012- his seat isn’t up until 2018. Not that I won’t remember his stance.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Oh my…it’s seemed longer.

          I guess Hillary is cooked in Virginia without a Senate race.

  5. W. Connolly

    The senate democrats supporting the fast track should be ousted at the earliest moment.They are undermining the integrity of the United States.

  6. Chauncey Gardiner

    When phoning one’s legislators, it is important to keep the focus on the substance of this secret TPP agreement, at least on what little We the People know about its egregious terms, such as ISDS.

    As Elias Insquith observed in a very instructive article at Salon yesterday, the argument over TPP and fast track is being deliberately and intentionally diverted and reduced by the Obama administration to a contest of personalities, specifically between Obama and Warren, but also other Democrats opposed to these so called trade agreements. The substance of the TPP is being pushed far into the background by the Obama administration. This is part of the Obama’s strategy, to make support of the TPP into a litmus test of loyalty that nukes the chance for substantive debate on the contents of the agreement itself.

    … “Perhaps that shouldn’t shock us, considering the very nature of the TPP’s drafting is itself profoundly cynical. Not only is it being driven almost entirely by corporate lobbyists and insiders, but it’s being hidden from the public for as long as possible, lest the ignorant masses offer their two cents and ruin this delicate, immaculately constructed neoliberal machine. It is, in other words, exactly the kind of policy many less-informed Obama supporters assume he would reject.” …

    “As Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy told Politico — for the subtly-titled piece, “Barack Obama’s war on the left” — Obama is “not using any different rhetoric here than he has on other issues.” The only difference now is that “he’s speaking to Democrats,” who, unlike Republicans, aren’t as used to distinguishing between criticism of Obama and criticism of his policies. The political tactic that Republican partisans have long described as Obama’s narcissism is now being wielded against liberals; and if Brown’s charge of sexism offers any hint, they’re taking the bait.”

    1. James Levy

      Something happened. The idea that Obama talked meant to these people and they folded holds no water. He’s a lame duck, and a weak one, who has shown no coattails and no one wants him to campaign for them. I want to know what happened. Ten senators don’t cave because the president is in a snit. They cave out of fear or greed. I want to know either what they were afraid of or what bought them.

      1. John

        He told them nothing and no one was standing in the way of his billion dollar payoff.
        And he would do whatever it took to make sure of it.
        He is numeral uno of the NSA, the CIA, the FEC, etc.
        Pretty sure it was a threat.
        Then again, maybe they are going to get their payoff too.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Warner is as right wing as they come. His popularity is largely due to claiming credit for the efforts of 3 state senators. Kaine was a prominent supporter of Joe Lieberman. As Governor, he cut taxes on the wealthy, slashed money for schools for his pet projects, signed every public-private partnership he could find, destroyed mountains on behalf of coal, and raised taxes on the poor. It’s no wonder Kaine and Obama became such bffs.

      3. sleepy

        Maybe nothing happened in the way of deals or pressure or threats. Maybe those senators who flipped were entirely in favor of fast track from day one and Reid’s little game was just that–a ruse to provide some sort of highly attenuated populist cover: “By gosh! We did our best to stop it, but ultimately we failed!”

        I have no idea what happened, but I suspect that scenario is as likely as anything else.

        1. ian

          That was pretty much my take.
          It was a foregone conclusion that they would ultimately vote for it but needed something to mollify their more liberal constituents. Hence the kabuki ‘revolt’ plus some toothless measures extracted in return.

          1. hunkerdown

            Liberals are pro-market, pro-trade, anti-socialist. Only a RWNJ would try to call them leftist.

      4. hunkerdown

        “Hmm, the audience doesn’t seem to be buying the kabuki drama, so let’s cut to the chase scene…”
        “Ron Howard pops the clutch and tells the world to Eat My Dust!”

        Though, being as well-connected as he is, he might have simply lined up nice sinecures for them at some white-shoe firm… if they comply. Considering that “moderate” Democrats are sooo 2006, the reserve “proxy Executive” squad probably couldn’t run and win on the merits again.

  7. Cassiodorus

    The way you gain power within an authoritarian system like the one we have now is through a three-step process:

    1) Form a voting bloc
    2) Threaten to withhold your votes from ;your favorite politicians if they fail to carry out your agenda
    3) Withhold votes from those who fail to carry out your agenda

    Liberal Democrats will never do any of these three things. Whenever you hear any of them complain of a lack of “unity,” it is because a few dissidents among their ranks actually want to carry out this sort of process. Most of them want to vote for the “lesser of two evils” because the next election is always the one which will save the world from the eternal nightmare to be experienced if the Republicans (who are in fact only slightly worse, given how bad the Democrats have become) gain access to public office. This explains their enthusiasm behind Hillary Clinton, who will give us the TPP even if Obama fails.

    They were all warned back in 2012 that what they would be getting if Obama won re-election was the TPP. They continued to sneer at those of us who explained how bad this was. We are getting the TPP.

    1. jrs

      Unless the Republicans were going to launch all the nuclear missiles in the stockpile, it’s hard to see HOW they would be any worse (worse that permanent corporate dictatorship?).

      It was bad enough to focus on the past with O. He has a kill list, he’s just repealed habius corpus, this is the guy you are cheering in 2012. Noone listened or cared.

      1. different clue

        It is easy to imagine how Rs could make things worse without launching all the missiles at once. If Obama secures an agreement with Iran the Rs can run and win on disavowing that agreement and going to war with Iran. They can install a Palinesque vice president ( maybe Palin herself) to help get the campuses ragind and revolting, and then send in the National Guard to kill demonstrating students. Two, three, many Kent States.

        If New Deal Reactionaries really want to purge and disinfect and decontaminate the Dparty, or else exterminate it in hopes that a legitimate party can be built on the space from which the Dparty is exterminated, then New Deal Reactionaries will have to credibly demonstrate that they are willing to accept the pain of Republican Rule as part of the medicine we need to take in order to decontaminate or exterminate the Democratic Party.

    2. hunkerdown

      If they want to embody the Party in their person, they can pay the price for that too. Whatever you can do to make them cry, short of assault-and-battery, is absolutely 100% our duty right now. That Aeon article about internal vs. external discipline roughly sums it up.

  8. Chief Bromden

    Using the word turncoat implies that these corporate PR operatives were at some point “representing” you and then suddenly double-crossed you. Does anyone here still believe that? Put another nail in the coffin that is pseudo-representative democracy… a sham of a mockery of a sham.

    It’s a fact of life that to the extent you empower the dollar, it will rule your elections and politics. That’s why electoralism is inherently pro-corporate, elects pro-corporate representatives, and brings pro-corporate policy. If you want to break the corporate tyranny, it follows that you must seek an alternative politics outside that system.

  9. geoff

    So I was listening to Rush Limbaugh in the car at lunch yesterday (know your enemy) and he was ranting against the TPP and (to my astonishment) said that his main problem with it was its secrecy. He even mentioned having to go to Wikileaks in order to read any of the wording, at which point my head exploded. (I guess what they say about stopped clocks is true!) When you hear Rush Limbaugh AND Barbara Boxer opposing TPP on the same day and for the same reasons, it’s hard not to be a little hopeful.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If Rush is against it, the GOP senators might become more hesitant. GOP voters don’t want their electeds joining Obama. This could be better than TPP being delayed. It will force Hillary to deal with it.

      I applaud your intestinal fortitude. The last few times, around 09, I heard Rush he seemed really unhinged. He was always a jerk, but at least, he wasn’t drooling on air as late as the 90’s. Maybe he’s off the oxycotin.

      1. Demeter

        I cannot share your optimism. As far as I can tell, Bill Clinton is the only person who EVER forced Hillary to “deal with it”.

        I don’t really understand marriage…American style. Probably why I divorced my own personal psychopath.

        1. hunkerdown

          Most things American style are just goofy appetizers designed for ongoing purchase and adrenal stimulation. Marriage is certainly one of them.

          That said, I’m almost certain the Clinton marriage is open, to the right people.

      2. different clue

        If Limbaugh can turn a Republican officeholder against TPP for every Democratic traitor who supports it in order to get a share of the Obama payoff money and every Congressional Black Racist Pig Caucus Representative who supports Obama’s TPP for racist loyalty reasons, then Limbaugh is to be congratulated, thanked, and actively assisted in his efforts to bring down Obamatrade.

  10. Kokuanani

    As I’ve posted elsewhere with regard to contacting your Senators and Rep., NUMBERS COUNT. The staff members reading e-mails and answering the phones are only reporting the volume of incoming communication and which “side” it supports. Your fabulous essay on the evils of the TPP and Fast Track will never reach the voting member. So don’t waste your time writing it.

    Pick one or two arguments [e.g., “secrecy”] and make them. Briefly. Like a sentence or two. Spend the rest of your time getting friends and family to contact Senate offices. The e-mail forms [links provided by Yves] make this ridiculously easy. All you need is a zip code showing you’re in the state. You can walk your pals through the process.

    I don’t know how effective contacting the DNC would be, but it can’t hurt, and can alert them that they can’t rely on you for fund-raising or votes.

    1. different clue

      If one is prepared to tell the D-party Apparatchik Organs that we will never vote for any national Democrat for any office ever again if Obamatrade is allowed to pass, and convince them that we really mean it, then contacting the Party Apparatchik groups could help. A way to convince them you mean it is to say “yes” when they ask you if you are really prepared for a Republican president to name the next Supreme Court Justices.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Well, that’s a no-brainer. A sovereign country with a Republican Supreme Court is better than a non-sovereign country controlled by multinational corporations.

  11. washunate

    This round of legislation on “trade” has felt quite a bit like other efforts from EESA to FISAAA to PPACA to PATRIOT. Democrats claim to support a set of principles that they just don’t actually support.

    It’s going to be really interesting when a critical mass is reached of people who are fed up with how things work

    1. jrs

      They ran on the being opposed to war thing to death as well, all during the Bush administration. They never were opposed to war in the middle east or elsewhere. But it gave a party noone would otherwise vote for (the Dems) a reason to claim they should get votes.

      1. washunate

        Joe Biden is definitely one of my favorites, from Clarence Thomas and the drug war right on through literally chairing the foreign relations committee in the Iraq war effort.

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Good point, washunate. I would go back even further. Looks and feels to me a lot like the templates that have been used dating back to Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force; the lies, obfuscation, and attacks and arrests of opponents of the ramp to war and occupation of Iraq; and, as commentator Mark Shields pointed out on PBS weeks ago, is reminiscent of TARP.

      I also agree that with you that as representative democracy is aggressively pushed aside and we are left with a mere facade, I expect that at some point the lack of “Consent of the Governed” will come into play.

      1. washunate

        Agreed. That’s part of what confuses me so much talking about TPA/TPP/TTIP in particular. We had these debates over two decades ago now with Ross Perot and the giant sucking sound and all that.

        My personal favorite incident from ancient history is probably the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and FCC endorsement of media consolidation. If I remember right, public comments were running against media consolidation at something like 97%. Everybody was against relaxing cross-ownership rules.

  12. Jim Simmons

    Three of the infamous ten Democratic Senators are from MD and VA. A partial explanation may be that a lot of military/national security government funding funnels into these two states. The fourth US Senator, Barbara Mikulski is not running and thus, presumedly, can vote her conscience.

    1. cwaltz

      Warner figures that we’ll (Virginia) be doing more business at our ports. Kaine is just a Democratic lackey, he was a no vote last week when we called.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Kaine practically danced on Emily Couric’s grave. Don’t fall for his routine. If Couric (Katie’s older sister) didn’t become ill, she would have become the lt. gov in 2002 and governor in 2006 not Kaine. Emily may not have been a wahoo, but I won’t hold it against her.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      They also represent wealthy enclaves which have enjoyed mic prosperity. If you don’t go down state, the economy is booming, and population growth has brought growth to Virginia.

      Mark Warner gave one of the worst and inappropriate speeches I’ve ever seen in 2008. He drowned on and about striking it rich with cell phones and his inheritance. The Chamber crowd might like it, but perhaps Terry Mac fired Warner because he really is a lazy dolt.

    3. diptherio

      The fourth US Senator, Barbara Mikulski is not running and thus, presumedly, can vote her conscience.

      I think you mean “post-Senate resume” here, not “conscience”…

      1. hunkerdown

        Don’t tell me you still believe that rot about equality from a bunch of oligarchs and slavers? Preserving the Great Chain of Being weighs far more heavily on their conscience than the irrelevant individuals suffering under it.

  13. TG

    I wouldn’t put much much hope in another country scuttling the TPP. I mean, if Japan backs out, so what? Conceivably the United States could sign the TPP with just Brunei. Because it’s not about trade, but primarily about rewriting American laws. So why can’t Goldman Sachs-Brunei sue the United States for a hundred billion dollars? Isn’t it the case that the secret TPP courts are also the ones that determine standing? If TPP is signed surely the big multinationals can do whatever they want?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The Japanese were asked to join late and are critical to the deal. No Japan means no deal. And there are plenty of trade deals that fail. Look at the Doha round as an example.

      As Clive (who reads the Japanese press) has reported at some length, the Japanese had been pretending to go along with the US while not being on board (the Japanese are world masters of feigning cooperation while engaging in sabotage). Obama recently gave Abe a big gimmie he wanted, free military rein in the South Pacific. But that does not bring the Diet along. And I’ll look for Clive’s continued reading, but the initial reactions to the Fast Track food fight in Japan are negative. If the opponents can merely delay approval in both houses to after the ministerial meetings at the end of this month (less hard than it would otherwise be due to Memorial Day weekend holidays coming up) that is a huge embarrassment to Obama and derails the momentum he was trying to build with his counterparties. Multiparty negotiations are very complex, and loss of the perception that a deal is going to get done is far more damaging than in two party negotiations.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Thanks, this is a nice glimmer of hope. Doing something bad to your people across multiple countries at the same time in coordinated fashion apparently is pretty tricky, I guess invariably one of the cats in the herd gets frisky.

      2. TG

        OK I hear you – but really, why is Japan so important? Is it because without a large economy like Japan there won’t be enough political cover for our representatives to sell us out? Why can’t we sign the TPP with just Brunei and Vietnam?

        And again – I am no lawyer, but the issue of ‘standing’ has always seemed critical. Will the secret TPP courts be in total control of ‘standing’? I mean, they are not bound by any precedent or any other codified body of law… Could these tribunals arbitrarily and without appeal decide who can and cannot file suits under the TPP? Could they give standing to a company that technically is not even covered by the TPP, and there would be nothing we could do about it? How unbounded is this power going to be anyhow?

  14. Splashoil

    My Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have both acted like deer in the headlights for years as they have sought to conceal their contempt for those they represent. The first clue was when they voted for cloture ending the debate filibuster on Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Then they voted against the nomination to go on record knowing votes were there to approve his nomination. There have been other odious votes such as their votes to kill Senator Dorgan’s drug reimportation amendment very important to a border State. Time to remind them once again, though both have been on the other team for years.

    1. edmondo

      Congrats!!!! You managed to exchange “the Senator from Boeing” with two senators ‘from Microsoft and Boeing”. Change you can believe in.

  15. TedWa

    Here, I’ll make it easy for you. this link is to call your reps and senators about the Patriot Act renewal and section 215, this link is to call your reps and senators about the Patriot Act renewal and section 215

    Sen Murray’s aides just took my opinion.

    Sen Cantwell’s aide asked me why I call fast track and TPP an abomination and evil and she actually took notes as I spelt out the threats to our national sovereignty and monetary sovereignty and how the entire text needs to be shown to the press and the people and that there needs to be an open discussion in Congress. She said will let the Senator know

    1. TedWa

      EDIT : Here, I’ll make it easy for you. this link is to call your reps and senators about the Patriot Act renewal and section 215, BUT THERE’S NO REASON YOU CAN’T USE THE LINK FOR FAST TRACK AND TPP. I DID. It’s pretty good, they do all the dialing for you.

  16. TedWa

    First one is in moderation.

    Sen Murray’s aides just took my opinion.

    Sen Cantwell’s aide asked me why I call fast track and TPP an abomination and evil and she actually took notes as I spelt out the threats to our national sovereignty and monetary sovereignty and how the entire text needs to be shown to the press and the people and that there needs to be an open discussion in Congress. She said will let the Senator know

  17. m toro

    A less obvious danger is that the TPP cannot be repealed if it is passed, because it’s a TREATY.

    And only a tiny number of treaties have ever been terminated.

    So if TPP passes, it can FOREVER undermine our laws.

    So as soon as we begin to experience what Obama calls “hypothetical” effects of the TPP, it will be too late to undo them.

    1. Calgacus

      A less obvious danger is that the TPP cannot be repealed if it is passed, because it’s a TREATY

      This is not true. It is uncontroversial that the US Congress can repudiate treaties, and in effect, the President can too (Carter did with a treaty with Taiwan). The USA cannot travel through time and unsign & unratify the treaty, so the international obligation may remain in force, but that problem is much realer for smaller states than for the USA. Wikipedia’s Treaty Clause article is pretty good on this.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The TTP and TTIP have language in the leaked sections that basically says you can’t escape unless all signatories agree. So it is designed to be impossible to exit.

        1. Calgacus

          That TPP language doesn’t matter, especially to the USA. I made the relevant distinctions in the comment above. In US domestic law the Constitution is supreme and it cannot be amended in such an essential, substantial way by the TPP or anything but the amendment process. Especially, such devices cannot remove what has always been recognized as a power of the US Congress. What would happen is that if the USA repeals/denounces/repudiates the TPP or whatever, the treaty would lose any domestic enforceability, become a dead letter domestically.

          The international obligation would usually remain, but considering current realities, this would be close to meaningless for the USA. John Yard below is not exactly right, for (a) it might be meaningful for a small country, and more importantly (b) the world is not a jungle, or at least is less of a jungle than it was 70 years ago.
          Didn’t see any replies until now, my apologies for the late reply.

      2. John Yard

        A treaty is an international agreement. It is in force, until a nation state decides it is not in force. To break a treaty, you notify the other powers that signed the treaty. No obligations ‘remain in force’ if a treaty is renounced. Of course, the world is a jungle, and their are consequences to all actions.
        What treaties do is clarify and formalize agreements. This makes misunderstandings of intent more unlikely.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Perhaps, but even if true, that information will not be widely known to the public and should fast track become law, and thus the noxious “trade” deals, the legislature has effectively dismantled itself as a viable component of the US sovereign nation state. They will soon be figure heads only. They will come to exist only for the purpose of protecting current and future poisonous international heists of assets and law in the form of “trade deals” as well as the meme that the treaty was signed and there is nothing we can do about it now. And while “the good times” last, they will be well paid for their treason.

      3. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

        The TPP is NOT a treaty. It is a Congressional-Executive Agreement, an ordinary law. It can be repealed by future Congresses and Presidents if they choose.

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    The stand all politicians take on the “Trade Treaties”, the TTP, TTIP, TISA — and all new-and-improved flavors-of-the-month that will come — and any laws which introduce enforcement mechanisms like the ISDS — and its future flavors — should become an acid test. After a Roll-Call vote is taken, the names of all who vote in favor of “free trade” should added to a list of names for politicians never more to receive our votes for any office. Let their names forevermore draw an undercount vote or a vote for a third party candidate — if there is some candidate of special merit. These “Trade Treaties” and enforcement mechanisms are deadly poison to the sovereignty of the American people and to their government of this nation, its states, and its municipalities and should be deadly poison for all politicians who vote in favor.

  19. Tom Hammett

    I believe that the Senate vote is scheduled for 2:00 PM EDT.

    sent May 14, 2015
    Dear Senator Bill Nelson:

    Please vote ‘no’ on this new vote on Obama’s Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track) language in H.R. 1314.

    Remember that this is a 6 year agreement so it will include the first term of the President elected in 2016. The way that Obama and the Senate democrats are treating the American people, a Republican could be elected in 2016. As Barney Frank said on March 29, 2015: “There is this problem, unfortunate, in America; when many on the left get mad they march, when people on the right get mad they vote.” From the standpoint of influencing Government, voting beats marching!

    First we need to put transparency into the process. Not Obama’s National Security secrecy on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement or any trade agreement.

    We need “fair” trade agreements that provide protections for American workers, from currency manipulations and prohibiting the importing of goods that used child or forced labor among other considerations.

    Obama lied about the leaked 2008 memo to the AP that described a meeting between Obama’s senior economic policy adviser Austan Goolsbee and officials with the Canadian consulate in Chicago. Goolsbee’s told officials that Obama’s NAFTA-bashing is merely campaign rhetoric, and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Obama is nothing more than a front man for his rich and powerful supporters, not the American people.


    Tom Hammett

  20. Doug Terpstra

    This reversal was imminently predictable, and the yesterday’s jubilation, right as the curtains closed on Act One, was clearly premature. The speed of the betrayal is surprising, probably because less pretense is required as to who really owns the theater and writes the script and because, as with the breathtaking reversal of the failed WS bailout bills of 08, time is of the essence for USTR negotiators, and the usual niceties of manufactured “democratic” consent must be foregone. I suspect that ten senators were introduced to a combination of bribes and sticks, including summaries of key NSA dossiers to ensure their prompt compliance.

    As Yves and others have noted here before, the TPP, TTIP, and TISA are only superficially about trade but primarily about rendering the US Constitution irrelevant and ending the pretense of national sovereignty and democracy. This is consistent with the stated Neocon doctrine of full-spectrum dominance, which includes neutralizing potential power rivals, and establishing global hegemony under American Empire (and one (digital) world currency). This consitutes a plausible universal theory that explains many seemingly disparate events: the conspicuous exclusion of Russia and China from theses pacts, the remilitarization of Japan, the new semi-cold war against Russia via the coup and civil war in Ukraine, the Syrian “civil” war, the continuing threats against Iran, the oil price collapse and any number of seemingly chaotic events in the ME.

    The powers imposing these treaties, that run the Obama regime and own most of Congress are not about to be deterred by quaint, provincial notions of democracy. This is a must win for empire and they will do whatever — whatever it takes to complete this coup. By all means, let’s petition, call, and suplicate Congress, but let’s not hold naive illusions that the will of the people matters to the powers that be, or that popular will will have any more effect on policy than Occupy protests, or protests against police murders, against the ACA farce, or overwhelming opposition to the Wall St bailouts. Such hopium-free realism is not disempowering. It is essential to truly effective opposition to the formidable powers that now control this country.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, you are wrong on this. It really dents Obama’s plan to bring Fast Track to the House with the argument, “this bill has lots of support and you should just trust me.” The fight is going much better than the opposition hoped. And Obama’s black eye creates much more media interest (why is a “trade” deal controversial?) which gives the opponents another chance to tell their story.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        I do hope you are right, Yves, and that this spells the ultimate defeat of TPA for TPP and its correlates. I’m not sure if you mean I’m wrong about about the real intent of the “trade” deals, the predictability of the Senate reversal, the illusions about democracy, or the determination or power of “free-trade” promoters over the process, but the whiplash speed of the reversal should dispel any illusions about what we face. I’m not saying that’s a reason to surrender, but to understand clearly the determination of those intent on imposing this tyranny. The ability to turn ten Senators In 24 hours is impressive and enlightening.

        Also, ultimately, even if the US pushers succeed, I think there’s still hope from abroad, from other members of the scheme and from key players outside of it — Russia and China.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I think she means the defeat o nthe cloture vote is non-trivial, especially because it wasn’t expected. She’s made the same point elsewhere. At the least, it breaks the momentum – and it also brings those 10 senators yet more opprobrium.

  21. Parker Dooley

    Paraphrase of today’s telephone contact to Kaine & Warner:
    I am extremely disappointed at the Senator’s decision to reverse his vote against fast track authority.

    Considering the consequential nature of the legislation, secrecy of the process and the lack of input from any labor, environmental or progressive stakeholders, this entire proposal needs to be made fully public and every word, line, sentence, paragraph, period and comma subjected to a full debate in both houses after a lengthy public comment period.

    Even ignoring the ISDS and intellectual property provisions, the fast track authority in and of itself is an atrocity, a subversion of the constitutional process and an excuse for legislators to avoid doing their job — which is to represent the best interests of all their constituents.

    (Feel free to plagiarize. Actual language was considerably less kind).

  22. Jeremy Grimm

    I went to trying to find for myself what the roll call vote was for the TPP related Senate vote. I eventually found the roll call vote — but wait a minute — the vote was on “H.R.1314 – Ensuring Tax Exempt Organizations the Right to Appeal Act”. I found that H.R.1314 will be the legislative vehicle for Trade Promotion Authority in a note associated with H.R.1314. I went to look at the text for H.R. 1314 — nothing there regarding trade. H.R. 1314 was some exceptionally dull and vague changes to the tax code. I played dungeons and dragons for a while to locate 15 pages of extremely dense text detailing the “Trade Promotion Authority” — text of one of the two amendments to H.R. 1314 — SR 1221 — reported in the pdf capturing a section of the Congressional Record which contained the TPA. Is this how we do “transparency?” [Not to mention the secrecy of the TPP, TIPP, TISA and other trade regulations the TPA relates to.]

    The vote for and against H.R. 1314 looked like it split along party lines with three Senators who didn’t vote including one of my Senators. Every Democrat who voted, voted against an amendment lobbied for by their Democratic President and every Republican who voted, voted in favor. Today I hear of a bunch of Senators rethinking their votes against and a new vote coming very soon. This isn’t even good Kabuki theater. Not only do the trade deals reek, so does the entire process in play to get them enacted. This isn’t sausage making and what they’re making isn’t fit for human consumption. Is this our “democracy” in action?

    1. jrs

      They Fast Tracked the Fast Track.

      You are of course right. Fast Track has it’s own sub-bills with their associated numbers but has passed the Senate and will be submitted in the House under “H.R.1314 – Ensuring Tax Exempt Organizations the Right to Appeal Act”.

      The Senates already passed Fast Track by the 13 treasonous Democratic Senators (and ALL Republican Senators).

      It was passed in cloture. What the holy heck is cloture anyway? It means it can pass quickly with little amendment and debate. And it did. Like that. Fast Track has passed the Senate. “Cloture is a motion or process in parliamentary procedure aimed at bringing debate to a quick end.” WikiPed (you can see the details)

      So let’s get this straight:

      1) FAST TRACK itself is to prevent amendments and thus debate on the actual TPP, TPIP etc. bills and to rush them through. To make it a straight up/down vote with no amendments, and to force a vote on the legislation between 60-90 days of it’s introduction
      2) Meanwhile the Senate passed the Fast Track bill ITSELF under cloture, which means with little debate and few ammendments and within less than 2 days (it Fast Tracked the Fast Track if you will)
      3) Meanwhile of course the text of the TPP itself is secret to the people and Congress

      How illegitimate is our government. 100%.

      As for this moving forward under another bill I have no idea if that’s typical procedure or not.

      1. hunkerdown

        “amendment in the nature of a substitute – An amendment that would strike out the entire text of a bill or other measure and insert a different full text.” It’s a very typical maneuver, actually.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        @jrs and hunkerdown — Thanks for further explaining what is going on here. This is so far away from the baloney they fed me years ago in High School Civics I have trouble understanding how anyone could call what is being taught education. Maybe it were better for our children if they were left behind in some subjects.

  23. Ian

    Has the vote come out yet? I keep trying to google it but I get nothing but older stuff.

  24. TedWa

    For those interested, CSPN2 has the arguments in the Senate going on now. Repubs of course are all for it.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Which tells you everything you need to know. I’m against anything that doesn’t result in GOPers literally flinging feces.

  25. TedWa

    For those that are curious, the arguments in the Senate are going on now on CSPAN 2

  26. Citizen-Patriot

    My Dear Senator and Fellow Citizen Bill Nelson,

    You’ll have to excuse the frankness and dramatic flair of this letter, but I am afraid no other words, or subtleties will reach you. May it not detract from the severity of the matter, or the grief which you are ushering.

    Your turn-coat vote on the TPP Fast Track Authority was shameful.

    Absolutely shameful.

    Given the weight and substance involved, Trade deals SHOULD be difficult to pass; and all the more so when the terms of their negotiation are hidden from public view and comment. If 60 Senators cannot fully agree on the benefits of legislation that impact the very Nature of our National Sovereignty, then it SHOULD NOT PASS.

    Canada is already challenging US regulations (Dodd-Frank Reform Bill) through NAFTA, and the TPP is opening the doors wide open for any national investor to hold PROFIT as a sacred right above the wellbeing of CITIZENS. Of PEOPLE. Of mothers, fathers, children, families; the old, the in-firmed, the poor, and the weak.

    Shame on you.

    Next time, side with True-Patriot Senator Elizabeth Warren, who shows unyielding courage in fighting for the values of Citizens, instead of the interest of International Bankers, and Corporations.

    I pray Freedom, Liberty, and JUSTICE, captivate you once again; and that God have Mercy on you, a FOOL, who greased the skids of this monstrous, pathological, traitorous, Corporate Orgy of GREED that you, Bill Nelson, are helping unleash upon our Country.

    For all that is good and worth protecting in this World,

    California Born-Resident of Florida, and Citizen-Patriot of these United States of America.


  27. TedWa

    Both Murray and Cantwell were turncoats and voted yes. I told their aides they were wrong and just sold out America’s national sovereignty and monetary sovereignty to the kleptocrats and the evisceration of the middle class will continue unabated. I said they lost my vote and they probably lost a lot of votes in their districts. Traitors. What was so bad about allowing the press, the public and Congress to read the entire treaty out in the open? A majority of Americans are against fat track and these trade agreements but they went ahead and voted for them anyway. They have stopped listening and even caring about those in a lesser social status than them.

  28. Brooklin Bridge

    So the filibuster preventing debating the fast track bill has been defeated with the compromise that the two bills the Democrats wanted (child labor and currency manipulation) were voted on (both passed) independently of fast track; no longer amended as part of any fast track vote.

    Is it fair to assume this is a complete fig leaf or do these independent bills have any chance of being used in the House to help defeat fast track.

    1. hunkerdown

      More likely, they have every chance of being left to die in the House in the name of satisficing the base with the token appearance of the expenditure of effort. “We triiiiiied” is the usual refrain.

  29. TedWa

    This thing was written in the dark and that’s where it’s going to take us. Bernie Sanders voted against this and he gets my support.

    1. cwaltz

      I love Bernie however, this actually tells us how much work we have ahead of us in the Senate.

      At least 3 of the 13 are up for re election in 2016. Bennet, Wyden and Murray and since they kissed the ring of the DNC I’d suggest that the challenge come from outside the party primary. Today is a good day to find out how to make a donation to the Colorado, Washington or Oregon Green Party. Personally I’d start by making an example of the entrenched Wyden.

  30. Kurt Sperry

    The notion that the entirety of the show of opposition to cloture was kabuki (imagine better word there please) strikes me as naive in its cynicism. Those sitting insecurely in their places of power don’t want to see cracks in the TINA narrative forming. Shows of dissent are only useful as opportunities for displays of punishment.

    The party discipline on the GOP side is creepy but impressive, I’m sure a large segment of the base isn’t crazy about another job killing multilateral trade deal. Military discipline in politics is a force multiplier, like voter ID laws and gerrymandering, but it doesn’t grow the force. Both parties pissing off their bases? No problem! TINA

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Please explain further. I really don’t understand what you mean by your comment.

      If viewing the “show of opposition” as theater is “naive in its cynicism” are you suggesting the “show of opposition” was genuine? OR

      Are you suggesting thinking of it as theater is “naive in its cynicism” in the sense that “theater” misapprehends the true nature of what is going on which is “naive” in implicitly accepting some naive underlying assumptions and mechanisms, and therefore failing to perceive an even more cynical explanation for the true nature of events?

      “Shows of dissent are only useful as opportunities for displays of punishment.” This really has me confused within the context of your first sentence. Displays of punishment for whom? — President Obama? Are you suggesting that the Democrats who voted ‘no’ then switched back to ‘yes’ were spanking Obama, possibly to punish his incompetence in handling the TAP maneuvers?

      Your statement, “Those sitting insecurely in their places of power don’t want to see cracks in the TINA narrative forming,” What “cracks in the TINA narrative” do you see forming? Are you referring to the 33 Senators who remained steadfast in their opposition? If so, were the 33 steadfast due to conviction or some lingering democratic process in the Senate? Do you believe that all opposition of this sort shows “cracks in the TINA narrative?”

      You really have me befuddled and I am genuinely curious about your opinion. Please don’t take offense at my confusion.

  31. Russell Scott Day/Transcendia

    While Nationalism is bad, Corporatism is worse. Of course it is all about balance. The people with power will take more. More money, bigger bills. They feel justified. They must have more. Little hand outs and then they take everything.
    Nations are used to the idea that they are supposed to share some of the spoils with the people. Then it is some of the people. Then it is the people with all the money.
    It looks like Obama is betraying his oath to defend the nation with what we know of this deal.
    Corporatism, for those in the corporation must pay big since the individual is a some body who is not a citizen, but an employee who can be fired.
    You can join the nation, or be born into it. In fact to be stripped of your citizenship is a big deal still.
    How to present the choice? The Choice is Corporate employ as opposed to National citizenship. The people of the US have seen their pensions and 401 Ks and been the reinsurers with little recompense as their enemies the Russians saw privatization take what was theirs given to cronies of the big guys.
    Statehood for Russia would have been a better end to the Cold War, but Nationalism makes that impossible. So Corporations enabled by play capitalists, now, makes the great play in secret with a President who believes he is the best King ever.
    What went wrong?

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