Gaius Publius: Nancy Pelosi Got a TPP Talking-To from Her Caucus, Plus Where We Are on Fast Track

Yves here. The vote today on Trade Adjustment Assistance is set to begin in the House at 11:00 AM. The target is to whip against TAA. As Gaius said via e-mail: “That’s where the first vulnerability is, and it’s vulnerable. The ask in all calls … “Vote No on TAA.” This is critical because, as Politico explains (emphasis ours):

Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) plan to bring a package of trade bills to the House floor is proving to be a big gamble, as both senior Republicans and Democrats are privately wondering whether they will be able to pass Trade Adjustment Assistance, a program to help workers who lose their jobs due to free trade, in a do-or-die Friday vote…

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Labor Secretary Tom Perez spoke first, urging Democrats to clear TAA, despite their deep reservations. If the House passes TAA, the chamber would be able to consider legislation that would give Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of his top legislative priorities.

But TAA is unpopular with Republicans, and aides in both parties estimate that only 50 to 100 GOP lawmakers will vote for it. That means Democrats hold the key to its passage — and ultimately to the overall trade package.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said he told McDonough that the White House’s position was “bullshit.”
“Mr. McDonough comes in and he says, ‘It’s all on you. We can’t do anything if you don’t accept this bad (Trade Adjustment Assistance),” DeFazio said, complaining that it would cut Medicare. He said Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) then asked McDonough whether the president could use his leverage with Republicans — who “desperately want” fast-track to pass — to push for a more robust TAA package to help workers…

If TAA fails, the House will not take up Trade Promotion Authority, the key legislation that would give Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Under that scenario both sides would have to regroup and figure out a way forward — or else the 12-nation trade deal could fall apart

It is very important to call your Representative today, particularly if they are a Republican or a Democrat who has said they support it like Don Beyer (D-VA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Jim Himes (D-CT)., and Oregon Democrat traitors, per Oregoncharles:

Bonamici, Dist. 1: this is a swing district – she COULD put herself in danger.
Schrader, dist. 5: Also a swing district.
Blumenauer, dist. 3(?): supposedly liberal, from a blue district (E. Portland area).

ESPECIALLY if you’re in 1 or 3, call them and make politely phrased threats. They should at least be nervous about this.

Gauis singles out some prime targets and courteously provides phone numbers:

Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) — 202-225-2645 (fence-sitter)
Terri Sewell (AL-07) — 202-225-2665 (leans Yes)
Sam Farr (CA-20) — 202-225-2861 (just announced Yes)
Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) — 202-225-4965 (lead perp)

My mother lives in Alabama 07 and I am making sure she calls Sewell.

Even if your Rep is a supposedly committed no, you should make them sweat before the vote. The whip count is very close and this really could go either way. If you have time, enlist family, friends, and colleagues to make calls. They do not need to be long, they just need to make the point that you and your allies are watching this vote and you will never vote for them (and if they are Democrats, for the party) ever again.

You can find phone numbers here.

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, Americablog, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. This piece first appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.

Just In: The Rule as described below — jump to “Where We Stand” — passed the House on Thursday afternoon, 217–212, with eight Democrats jumping in at the last minute to push it over the line. The order of business as defined by the Rule will start soon, perhaps Friday, June 12. First vote will be on TAA. If TAA fails, they close up shop on trade deals for this round. If TAA passes, they move to TPA. See below for the details.

The roll call vote on the Rule is here. Blumenauer was a lead Yes vote, again. With only eight Democratic Yes votes on the Rule, there could be trouble ahead. Note the additional kind words for Nancy Pelosi, this time from New Democrat chair Ron Kind, at the link.

House phone numbers here. Do call today. Leader Pelosi’s phone number is 202-225-4965. Let her know she now owns this bill

Also In: Rep. Sam Farr (CA-20) has declared himself pro-Fast Track. His phone number is  202-225-2861. You might make him aware of your thoughts.

The Fast Track vote in the House looks set for Friday, June 12, or soon thereafter, and there’s scrambling on both sides. I want to look at just a few aspects of this fascinating attempt at corporate wet-dream enabling — (1) the Fast Track vote count itself; (2) newly-announced strong opposition from the right-wing Heritage Action operation; (3) the sudden unraveling of a deal Pelosi had with Boehner to pass the Senate’s TPA plus TAA combo bill — where Pelosi’s playing both sides finally got her a talking-to from her caucus.

We close with a “where we stand” summary and two bottom lines. Scroll down to read just that part. It’s been quite a ride.

What Are the Vote Numbers in the House?

On the vote tally, the most consistent numbers I’m hearing are in the range of those listed below. From Politico Pro (subscription required), this is James Clyburn talking about the whip count:

Clyburn: TAA offset still needs work

… [Assistant Democratic Leader James] Clyburn said during his remarks that he didn’t think Republicans had 198 votes to complement the current 20 Democrats who support fast track. …

I refer you back to this “whip count” post for my earlier speculation about the numbers. To review, if all members vote, it takes 218 to pass a bill in the current House (since they are now just one member short). There are 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats as of June 2. Most of the numbers coming out (some aspirational, some not) say that 50 to 70 Republicans could vote No on the combined TPA-TAA bill that came out of the Senate, and that something like two dozen Democratic Yes votes would be needed.

Clyburn’s statement is close to many reports. There may be more than 20 Democrats who are pro-Fast Track, but not many more. I count just 22 announced Democratic Yes votes — including the 18 named by Alan Grayson, plus Jim (“Air Force One”) Himes, Kathleen Rice, who just switched sides, Don Beyer, and Sam Farr, noted above. There is also speculation about undecided Democrats, but the number is no more than six and probably a lot less.

If you’d like to make a call or three, consider talking to these fine people:

  • Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) — 202-225-2645 (fence-sitter)
  • Terri Sewell (AL-07) — 202-225-2665 (leans Yes)
  • Sam Farr (CA-20) — 202-225-2861 (just announced Yes)
  • Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) — 202-225-4965 (lead perp)

Do it now though, literally now. The first two might be swayed. The third might be re-incentivized. And Leader Pelosi needs more of the talking-to mentioned above and described below. You might bring up the phrase “your legacy” as you speak with her.

Note that Clyburn is in House leadership (meaning he’s likely pro-Obama and pro–Fast Track if he can get away with it); also that Clyburn is in the Congressional Black Caucus, whose members have been heavily lobbied by Obama to stand with him. I would also count Pelosi (see here) and Hoyer as quiet Yes votes, but only if they have to be. It seems they’d rather see Fast Track pass while they vote No — Fast Track and TPP are that toxic in the Democratic House caucus.

All this means that the number of Republican No votes on Fast Track must be quite high. Subtract 50 from 246 (the number of total Republicans) and you get 196. If2 (or so) Democrats can’t pass the bill, there have to be more than 50 Republicans opposed. If they force a vote on Fast Track on Friday (or soon thereafter), it’s going to be very close.

Whenever that occurs, watch the TPA (“Fast Track”) vote — H.R. 1314 — which will happen if TAA passes. Do more than 22 Democrats vote Yes, or fewer? If so, who? Do more than 50 Republicans vote No? If so, who?

Heritage Action Will “Score” the TPA Vote

Heritage Action, the action arm of the Heritage Foundation, has now come out strongly against the TPA bill, and will score a member’s vote in evaluating the member for future support. reports:

Heritage Action Will Score Fast-Track Vote

Without promises from House and Senate leadership that the Export-Import Bank will not be reauthorized, Heritage Action is urging Republicans to vote against a top Obama trade agenda item.

The conservative group is warning that it will be scoring the upcoming vote on whether to provide President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals.

“Absent ironclad public commitments from Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that the Export-Import Bank will not be reauthorized, Heritage Action will key vote against H.R. 1314,” the group warns.

Heritage Action argues that while it supports trade, the recent effort has become another vehicle for welfare spending.

“The bill combines President Obama’s request for fast track authority or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) with a stimulus-level extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program and, as mentioned
above, has become inextricably linked to the passage of the Export-Import Bank,” Heritage Action explains.

“Free trade benefits the economy and all Americans. Congress should not shy away from promoting free trade at every opportunity. However, The Heritage Foundation’s Ambassador Terry Miller says this particular ‘TPA has gotten bogged down in the politics of protectionism and welfare spending,’” it adds.

The group stresses that it is a “free trade organization” but that the addition of TAA makes support for TPA even tougher for conservatives. In the end they are calling for conservatives to oppose the bill, H.R. 1314, and warn it will be included as a “key vote” in their legislative scorecard.

“Heritage Action has always been a free trade organization, but free-market conservatives are understandably split on this president’s request for fast track authority,” the group explains.

Heritage and much of the right hates the Export-Import Bank, which selectively benefits exporters and mainly benefits Boeing, by the way. (Alan Grayson concurs in opposition to the bank.) They also hate the worker assistance provisions in TAA.

Will Heritage peal away enough Republican votes to defeat TPA? We’ll find out soon.

Why Is the Vote So Close? The Medicare Poison Pill

This explains the meat of the problem — for the bill and also for Leader Pelosi, who is reportedly working “almost daily” to oppose the wishes of the vast majority of her caucus. That opposition has now spilled over into intra-caucus conflict.

There are more corporate Democrats in the House than any of us would like there to be, and all are potential pro–Fast Track (pro-TPA) votes. But the bill reported out of the Senate is two bills rolled into one — Fast Track itself, called “Trade Promotion Authority” or TPA, and a bill that pretends to offset the damage to workers from the coming job-creating “trade” bills, called “Trade Adjustment Assistance,” or TAA.

Democrats need both bills to pass in order to make it look like the party as a whole cares about workers. All you need to know:

  • The Senate reported both bills out as a single piece of legislation.
  • If the House votes Yes to the exact language of the combined Senate bill (TPA plus TAA), it goes straight to the White House. No more votes.
  • The House will vote on each part of the combined Senate bill separately, however. (A move to get different members to vote Yes on different parts.)
  • Therefore, both bills must pass separately for the combined Senate bill to pass.
  • If the House changes any of the language of either bill, it goes into conference instead of to the White House, which means more delay and more voting.
  • If either the TPA or TAA bill fails, the whole Senate bill fails.
  • There’s a poison pill in the language of the Senate TAA bill.

Somehow, the Senate put language in the TAA bill that said, in effect, “Yes, we’ll allocate money for (some small number of) workers who need ‘assistance,’ but that money will come out of Medicare.”

Oops. Here’s why:

  • Even corporate-loving Democrats have to appear to be pro-worker. So they need to pass TAA to make their voters swallow their Fast Track vote.
  • Even corporate-loving Democrats need to appear to be pro-Medicare. So they can’t vote for TAA as it’s currently written.
  • You can’t cast a vote against Medicare and not expect to get killed in the next election. The ads write themselves.

So Pelosi and Boehner came up with a plan on Tuesday to “get to yes,” as reported by several sources. Four trade bills are going to be voted in this session, TPA, TAA, a “customs” bill and an African assistance bill. Only TPA and TAA matter, since Fast Track authority is all Obama and the CEOs care about. Obama can veto everything else and still get Fast Track authority for himself and the president who follows him.

The Pelosi-Boehner Tuesday plan was initially this: A sufficient number of Democrats would vote Yes for TAA — the one with the anti-Medicare language — then vote Yes for one of the other bills (initially the “customs” bill), which would have language canceling the anti-Medicare language.

Tuesday night, Boehner thought he had a deal with Pelosi. Tuesday night Pelosi thought she’d put together a way for her caucus to pass “TPA plus TAA” with Senate language intact (which tells you she’s a firm but quiet Yes, right?).

Tuesday night, however, progressives figured out that the Democrats were being had. How? Consider — You’re a Republican candidate fighting a Democratic incumbent in 2016. That Democrat voted against Medicare by voting Yes on TAA. If you say this in campaign ads, what’s the Democrat’s response?

These ads are easy; they write themselves. Here’s one now, against Democrat Jim Costa. If a Republican puts up that ad, what’s conservative Democrat Costa going to say in response?

“Yes, technically I did vote for TAA with the anti-Medicare provision, but then I took it back with my other vote for this other bill which cancelled the anti-Medicare provision. It’s technical, but it’s all good. You get that, right?

“Besides, it’s not my fault that the President signed the bad Medicare bill and vetoed the good Medicare bill. Not my fault at all. Still love me?”

With that story to tell, conservative Mr. Costa will close his electoral history book and open as a brand new lobbyist in January 2017. He and everyone else who took that vote.

Nancy Pelosi’s Tuesday Night Deal Was a Trap

On Tuesday night, based on the following Politico report, Nancy Pelosi had agreed to deliver Democratic votes to say (1) Yes to TPA; (2) Yes to the anti-Medicare but otherwise worker-friendly TAA; (3) Yes to the “customs” bill that was originally planned as the vehicle to cancel out the anti-Medicare language.

On Wednesday morning she got wise, got religion … or got a talking-to from her suddenly freaked-out caucus. Here’s part of the report on which this is based:

After vote set, Dems threaten to derail Obama’s trade bill

Nancy Pelosi and her allies are objecting to a procedural side issue involving Medicare money.

On Tuesday night, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) thought he had an agreement with Pelosi to drop that approach and use money from more stringent tax enforcement instead.

But Democrats raised an objection that night and the issue boiled over at the party’s weekly conference Wednesday. [Earlier language: “But on Wednesday, Democrats raised a new objection.”]

They said under the voting procedure Republicans are planning, a vote would still be taken on the plan using Medicare funds, but it would then be overriden by a subsequent vote. That strategy would avoid directly amending the TAA bill, thus reducing the differences between the package of House trade bills and the one the Senate already passed. Trade supporters are intent on avoiding sending the trade bills back to the Senate for further action, lest even more problems arise.

Now here’s Mr. Clyburn to explain the problem simply (same source):

But Democrats say they want no part of a vote to cap Medicare spending, even if it would be fixed by a subsequent vote.

Why should I be recorded as voting to take $700 million out of Medicare in order to get something to put it back?” South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, told POLITICO on Wednesday.

But it gets worse for Pelosi. There’s now a report from inside the Wednesday caucus meeting.

Pelosi’s Progressive Talking-To

Pelosi’s pro-TPP deal with Boehner unraveled ugly in the Wednesday caucus meeting. Via this report from Vox:

Pelosi “misread” Democratic Caucus on fast-track bill, friend charges

The fight over President Obama’s trade agenda has gotten so ugly that one of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s closest friends in Congress accused her of subverting the will of House Democrats at a closed-door meeting of top party leaders on Wednesday, according to five sources.

“With all due respect,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro said to Pelosi, you’ve “misread” the caucus. It might not sound like much, but that’s a stiff charge. It suggests that Pelosi, the best vote counter of her era, is either slipping or intentionally undermining her colleagues. That was a bridge too far for Pelosi. Her aides began clearing the room of staff to limit the number of witnesses while she told the lawmakers who remained in the meeting that she’s been trying to get the best possible deal for American workers.

Ultimately, DeLauro has become the point of labor’s spear in trying to defeat a bill that would give Obama fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals. And Pelosi, who is claiming neutrality, has become a shield giving space for the White House and Speaker John Boehner to shepherd the trade bill through the House floor.

Read the rest; it’s fascinating. This not only happened — it was reported as happening. Pelosi’s careful cover story — she’s widely described as “neutral” or “silent” — is blown, and her caucus is now talking about the trap.

Where We Stand

That was Wednesday and we’re ages beyond that. The Pelosi-Boehner trickery has moved on. The “pay-for” to offset the anti-Medicare provision in TAA was put into the “Africa aid” bill (retitled “Africa Aid and Repeal Medicare Offset”), and the Africa bill passed in the House.

In addition, the anti-Medicare provision has been separated out of the TAA bill — “rendered moot” per Kevin McCarthy’s latest leadership memo, because the Africa aid bill has passed — but it will be put back in by the Rule after the voting is done. (Yes, really.)

McCarthy (click carefully; that’s the Weekly Standard):

After passage of the trade preferences bill tomorrow, the House will consider the Rule to bring up the TPA/TAA bill and the customs bill.  Instead of dividing the bill into two questions (TPA & TAA), the Rule will divide it into three questions (TPA/TAA/sequester). Since the House will have already spoken on the sequester provision, the Rule will consider as adopted the question of the sequester [anti-Medicare language] with no further vote since it has been rendered moot by the preferences [African aid] bill. This will leave the House to vote only on the remaining issues under the Rule: TPA, TAA and customs.

“Sequester” means “cuts to Medicare,” and as I said, language reversing that was put in the “Africa” bill and passed. The trick is that the Rule now means there will be no direct vote on the offending TAA language.

But a vote on the Rule is still a vote on the Medicare provision — it’s a vote to hide the anti-Medicare language in TAA, then reinsert it if TAA and TPA both pass.

McCarthy again:

On Friday, the House will begin with debate on a motion to concur on the TPA/TAA bill. The House will then debate the motion to concur on the customs bill with a House amendment. As I mentioned at Conference, the House will then request to go to conference with the Senate on the customs bill.

After debate on both motions on Friday, the vote order will be as follows:

  • Question 1 – TAA. If this vote fails, no further action will be taken on the remaining trade motions. If this vote passes, the House will proceed to:
  • Question 2 – TPA. If this vote fails, no further action will be taken on the remaining trade motion. If this vote passes, the House will proceed to:
  • Motion to concur on the customs bill with a House amendment.

Do you see the other tricks? If TAA fails, no one has to take a vote on TPA (which pleases those frightened by Heritage Action, among others). Also, a vote on the “Rule” plus a vote on TAA is still a vote for the anti-Medicare provision, since the anti-Medicare language has to be restored (by the Rule) into TAA if that bill is to be identical to the Senate version.

Will this pro-TPP trickery (thank you, Leader Pelosi) be enough to assuage enough frightened Democrats so they can comfortably vote their contributors’ wishes instead of their constituents’ incomes? If the floor speeches preceding the vote on the Rule are any indication — including from Rules Committee Ranking Member Louise Slaughter — many Democrats recognize that the Rule vote and/or a vote on TAA could be deadly in the next election. That’s apparently why only eight Dems voted Yes on the Rule, and only near the end, when the Republicans couldn’t pass it alone.

In addition, there’s a long list of other things wrong with the “customs” bill (formally, an amendment to H.R. 644, if I read things right). House leaders have larded it up with lots of bad
provisions, like forbidding the U.S. Trade Representative to address climate change in a trade agreement (discussed here). There are many more like that.

The customs bill is so changed that it will have to go into a conference committee, but it’s a giveaway bill anyway. It can take any form, and Obama can still veto it if and as he chooses. If TPA and TAA pass intact, he can sail into his “Bill Clinton future.” His next golden era is assured.

Bottom Lines

First bottom line — Despite McCarthy’s maneuvering, nothing has changed. The package still has a poison pill. But will enough Democrats think it’s now OK to vote for it? Those “she voted against Medicare” ads still write themselves. It’s going to be interesting. Stay tuned, but let your voice be heard first.

Second bottom line — Nancy Pelosi owns this bill, and that needs to said publicly. Without her ceaseless effort, Fast Track is doomed. Do remember that; Fast Track is her last strong act before she enters her own golden era. Her office phone number is above.

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  1. Kokuanani

    Thank you so much for this, Yves & Gaius.

    I’ll be at the phones as soon as offices open in DC, and will send e-mail & links to my pals until then.

    This weekend I talked with my daughter who’s studying in Africa. She asked me for info on TPP, and I added several NC links to her Facebook page, which then went out to all of her friends. Thanks to the wonders of social media, your information reached a ton of “Millenials,” and thanks to the wonders of the internet [and your valuable links] THEY can all reach out and touch THEIR Reps. Her friends are all over the globe, domestically and abroad, but they’re registered voters in a wide range of districts. [Even if they’re not REGISTERED, who’s going to know when they make that call or e-mail. They’ve got the in-district zip code.]

    I’m off to “whip” them now. Thanks again for providing these valuable resources.

  2. hemeantwell

    As a sidelight, I’ve been surprised at how strongly MoveOn has campaigned against the TPP. But then, I shouldn’t be surprised, since it quells fissile potential. Setting it up as a move by the Rs to be blocked by the Ds, they continue to deny out the central responsibility of the Democratic leadership and the way the TPP reflects the near-complete acceptance of neoliberal hegemony by the Democratic party. Their alarum, while calling attention to the potential output of ISDS panels, doesn’t specifically address them, and skirts the sovereignty erosion issue that is the mark of the beast. MoveOn serves as a regulator of the speed at which corporate sovereignty is achieved, not a means to defeat it.

    House Republicans will force a vote on Friday morning on a set of bills that would:
    – cut $700 million from Medicare,
    – make it easier to pass job-killing corporate trade deals, and
    – undermine financial regulations, environmental protections, and consumer rights.
    The centerpiece of this package—the Trade Promotion Authority or “Fast Track”—is not about trade. Not really. It’s about enabling a massive corporate power grab.

    But Friday’s vote isn’t a done deal, thanks to passionate and growing opposition, including hundreds of thousands of MoveOn members from coast to coast. And Democrats have the power to stop it.

    1. hemeantwell

      “Mark of the beast” can be toned up. How about “the plebiscitary self-cancellation of plebiscitary democracy”? Too Hegelian?

    2. Brindle

      I removed myself from MoveOn’s email list a few years ago—around the same time I quit daily visits to DailyKos—peas in a pod….there bottom line is “Dems good—GOP bad”.

      1. hemeantwell

        Agreed on both. They remind me of those large fish that dangle a lure and then swallow the unwary. DK has quite a range of opinion on particular policies, and some of their contributors have pounded Obama on the TPP. But there is no attempt to discuss significant political options and so the inclination is to slide back into smug bashing of the Rs. I’ve been listening to Perlstein’s Nixonland — a very mixed experience, espeically as you go through the pain of long Agnew quotes — but the point he makes about the snippy dismissal of the white working class by many McGovern supporters is applicable to DK. Perlstein’s emphasis on Nixon’s adeptness at identifying wedge issues is a lost lesson to the DK smirkers. It’s like crappy fallout from the Daily Show approach to political combat.

  3. Tom Hammett

    I sent this to my Representative who is in a safe district on June 11 in the AM:
    Dear Representative Kathy Castor:

    Please vote NO on Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)!

    ■ The six (6) year term for Fast Track will carry it through the first term of the next President. I do not trust our current President to do the “right thing” for the American people much less some future President.

    ■ National security secrecy may be appropriate to protect us from our enemies; it should not be used to protect our politicians from us. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being negotiated in secret, through classifying the TPP drafts as purported “national security” information. This is a total failure of Obama’s transparency. The TPP drafts are being negotiated, in secret, by lobbyists for Wall Street and the large multi-national corporations. The TPP is the legal system designed to authorize plunder with impunity. When you allow CEOs’ and their lobbyists to secretly draft a deal and then make it impossible through “fast track” for the public or our representatives to vote down even the most despicable of these acts of CEO plunder you make it certain that the law will bring plunder rather than “free trade.”

    The New York Times reported yesterday (June 10, 2013) about a newly leaked section that covers pharmaceutical and medical devices of the proposed trade accord and shows how ‘Big Pharma’ is employing “an aggressive new form of transnational corporatism” to increase profits at the expense of global health.. “It was very clear to everyone except the U.S. that the initial proposal wasn’t about transparency. It was about getting market access for the pharmaceutical industry by giving them greater access to and influence over decision-making processes around pricing and reimbursement,” said Deborah Gleeson, a lecturer at the School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University in Australia.

    ■ TPP gives away U.S. and other nations’ sovereignty to a kangaroo court dominated by lawyers for Wall Street and the large multi-national corporations.

    In a set of recent decisions, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled against the United States on country-of-origin labels on meat, dolphin-safe labels on tuna, and the ban on sweet-flavored cigarettes designed to combat youth smoking. These are the policies we rely on to allow us to protect children’s health and make informed decisions as consumers.

    The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a powerful global commerce agency, and one of the main mechanisms of corporate globalization. Under the WTO’s system of corporate-managed trade, short-run corporate profits dominate social, environmental, labor and other values. The WTO even places limits on our ability to rein in the Wall Street banks that wrecked our economy.

    Joe Oliver, the Finance Minister of Canada, is now claiming that the Volcker rule, implemented as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and the Consumer Protection Act of 2010, violates NAFTA. How long will it take for the WTO to rule against the United States again?

    ■ American Presidents have a very bad track record on trade agreements for American workers and trade balance. Between Barack Obama’s U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) and Bill Clinton’s NAFTA, please do not do the American worker any favors!

    Today’s market fundamentalism is not much different from Robber Baron capitalism from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. Robber baron capitalism describes the unscrupulous industrialists and stock speculators, who like the Germanic robber barons of the twelfth century, enriched their own pockets without adding to the common good or adding value.


    Tom Hammett

    On June 11 at 5:15 PM, I received this response from Congresswoman Kathy Castor:

    Dear Mr. Hammett,

    Thank you for contacting me regarding a number of trade proposals that are currently being debated and negotiated. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

    As you may know, the President has asked Congress to reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as “fast-track.” Since 1974, TPA legislation has set forth Congressional definitions and priorities for U.S. trade negotiations. This legislation sets forth Congressional consultation and notification requirements that the administration must adhere to while negotiating trade agreements. At the end of the negotiation and consultation process, Congress is presented the entirety of the trade agreement negotiated by the administration. The agreement is put up for a straight up or down vote, with no amendment. The most recent reauthorization of TPA, the Trade Act of 2002, expired for new agreements on July 1, 2007.

    Currently, United States Trade Representatives are negotiating two expansive trade agreements. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement is a trade agreement, which would give corporations the ability to challenge federal law. As it stands, the TPP touches on everything from investment and service-sector regulations to government procurement, financial regulation, and patents. TPP would include 11 trading partners throughout the Asia-Pacific region including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Similarly, the Transatlantic Trade and Investments Partnership (TTIP) is a comprehensive trade and investment agreement that is currently being negotiated between the United States and the European Union.

    It is crucial that the TPP and TTIP agreements create a new, sustainable trade model, and it is important that there is sufficient opportunity for Congress and the public to weigh in on the issues addressed by TPP.

    You may be glad to know I signed a letter in November 2013 to President Obama expressing concern with the ongoing negotiations over the TPP Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as well as the push for Trade Promotion Authority, and I will continue to work to ensure that our trade policies are fair and do not undermine critical labor, environmental, consumer, and other protections.

    Thank you again for sharing your opinions with me. I would like to invite you to visit my website at for updates on issues important to you and your family.


    Kathy Castor
    United States Representative
    Florida, District 14

    1. Uahsenaa

      I always marvel at the great lengths to which people go to say almost nothing. That response letter could just as easily justify the TAA (and thus TPA) as indicate opposition to it. I often tell my students that one of the most deceptive rhetorical strategies is one in which you describe what has happened or is happening all the while failing to take anything resembling a position on those events. This is a stellar example.

      1. Tom Hammett

        I agree. I do believe that politicians are groomed to consume the maximum amount of time that they can and say absolutely nothing.

        What surprised me was the 8 hour turnaround in the response. That has never happened.

        1. different clue

          What would happen if you sent a civil polite reply right back saying that you are gratified and impressed with the fast response . . . howEVer . . . you can’t tell from the response whether the Representative actually opposes Fast Track and TPP or supports them, and restating your hope that she visibly and clearly reject them.

  4. Carla

    “It is crucial that the TPP and TTIP agreements create a new, sustainable trade model, and it is important that there is sufficient opportunity for Congress and the public to weigh in on the issues addressed by TPP.” — Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-14)

    There is NO acceptable version of TPP or TTIP. These are not trade agreements at all, but toxic deals written to create world government of, by and for corporations. BURY them, and start over.

  5. tim s

    CNN has a front page story that actually doesn’t make my blood boil. This type of story will hopefully result in more calls for NO from people who otherwise may have known nothing about the TPP. That this story made it on that site of typical obfuscation must mean that opposition to the deal runs deeper than imagined among the ruling class.

    Of course, CNN provides no comments section. I thought that that was their general weaselly policy, but then I see that a Seinfeld PC issue story had a comments section. Pitiful.

    1. Ulysses

      “That this story made it on that site of typical obfuscation must mean that opposition to the deal runs deeper than imagined among the ruling class.”

      Good point! I have the misfortune to be related to a few ruling class people– who are, sadly, pretty committed to drinking the neoliberal Kool-Aid. It has been heartening for me to see that even some of them are moved to want to slow down the TPP/TISA/TTIP multinational power grab– even if their motivation may be the belated realization that the new regime could allow foreign billionaires, who aren’t part of the Euro/American elites, to more easily sue the government that they (the Euro/American elites) have bought and paid for.

  6. JerseyJeffersonian

    Just made the call to the office of my Congressional Representative, Donald Norcross (D – NJ).

    NO on TAA, which steals funds from Medicare for spurious retraining of workers who would lose their jobs from “trade” bills advocated by Obummer on behalf of his corporate pals.

    NO on Trade Promotion Authority. Was told Congressman Norcross was already opposed to TPA, reemphasized that the way to kill TPA (for now at least – we’ve all seen too many horror movies where the monster is reanimated to wreak more havoc), is a NO vote on TAA.

    Also fervently advocated for the removal of “Fancy” Nancy Pelosi and all of her henchmen such as Steny Hoyer from leadership positions. We are sick and tired of their Third Way treachery.

    Let him know that my wife and I will be following the votes; she is a librarian at the University of Pennsylvania, and I serve as clerk of government documents at the law library at Rutgers in Camden, so we both know how to, and will, access this information.

    That is all. We shall see.

    1. Gaius Publius

      Good work.

      Donald Norcross is connected, as I understand it, to a notoriously corrupt political family in the state. Donald has an excellent progressive challenger in Alex Law.

      More on Alex Law here:

      You could easily tell Mr. Norcross you know he’s got someone at his heels.

      Then you could work to unelect Mr. Norcross. More at that link.


      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Thank you. That is potentially useful information. I will further investigate.

        Yes, his brother is a big-time political operator in our region, and I do mean region, as his reach is at least bi-state – New Jersey and Pennsylvania – through connections in the Delaware River Port Authority, which is infamously politically unaccountable owing to its bi-state nature.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The TAA is such bad strategy *and* bad policy rolled into one it makes me really wonder about the American body politic. “Let’s pay workers to stay at home because we want to level the labor playing field with countries like Vietnam and Malaysia”.

          So let me get this straight: we want to borrow money in order to import a lower standard of living? That’s it, that’s your final answer?

          Nothing a couple of neutron bombs wouldn’t cure, leave the Capitol building in place, maybe some village idiots will wander in and get to work, it would be a huge improvement.

  7. Dave

    placed calls to Fitzpatrick(district where I live) and Fattah district where I work to voice my displeasure with this piece of legislative betrayal. Fitzpatrick rep answering phone was ambiguous in response to query so I was forceful in response, Fattah rep on phone stated he did not support legislation and I was very happy and thanked him profusely.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      The other 2 Dems that cover the city and some of the burbs, Brady and Boyle, are also NO votes. They, along with Fattah and Sen Casey are in unison as opposition to fast track and trade pact negotiations. The negative job impact is undeniable. Calls to Brady and Boyle’s office gave me live contact which listened to my shpiel and then affirmed their opposition to fast track and other trade pacts in the works for the Pacific Rim and Europe. Nancy Pelosi’s office cut me off as soon as I respectfully urged a NO vote and to review any support for any trade pacts until a much later date. I was sent to voice mail where my shpiel was recorded in its full glory. The good news is that entire PA dem Conressional delegation, 5 Congress and 1 Senator, are in unison in OPPOSITION to fast track and TPP. Casey even took out full page ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer explaining his oppo.

  8. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

    Great analysis, GP, and great explanation too. it will be essential for beating these slugs in primaries next year.

  9. Jerome

    Thanks Gaius for being the “public whip” on this issue! I called my representative Robin Kelly in the 2nd Congressional District in Illinois, and found out that she has been openly against the bill. Relieved, I next called Nancy Pelosi’s office, and I was told to leave a message. I urged her to vote “no” for two reasons. First of all, the Investor State Dispute Settlement provision would allow corporations to regulate governments, rather than the other way around. Secondly, fast track authority on this bill would not only cede authority from the legislative branch to the executive branch, but it would cede authority from the U.S. Government to corporations. Does she really want that to be her final legacy as a leader of that government? Thanks for the assistance in framing the arguments!

    1. different clue

      Yes, she really does. She just doesn’t want to be publicly exposed for it. Your question forces her to face the possibility of her cover being blown. Maybe shame and humiliation can be used to paralyze and confuse her pro-TPP efforts? The question usefully implies a threat.

  10. Gaius Publius

    Alan Grayson has a Tumblr account with all of his sends to his email list. His latest entry lists anti-TPP arguments to make and additional phone numbers for good House members to call.

    The Tumblr post is here:

    Here’s his list of additional phone numbers. If you have a Democratic Congressman who “gets it” on Fast Track, then you can call one of these undecideds instead:

    Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) – (202) 225-3341
    Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) – (202) 225-2040
    Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) (202) 225-2861
    Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) – (202) 225-2645
    Rep. John Carney (D-DE) – (202) 225-4165
    Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) – (202) 225-8020
    Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) – (202) 225-3236

    Costa has declared Yes and he’s getting pushback. Perlmutter is wobbling all over the place as I hear it. Sam Farr has just declared Yes (see my piece above) but might be moved back…not sure.

    Anyway, have at it. As Grayson wrote, “It’s time to burn up the phones.”


  11. Unrequited Narcissist

    Kathleen Rice’s DC office is not picking up the phone, and has a full voice mail box. Representative government in action!

  12. Deloss Brown

    I have called Nancy Pelosi’s DC office twice this week.

    As soon as you tell the staffer why you’re calling, you get switched to the answering machine.

    Yesterday the answering machine was not taking any messages–it was full. So I called back, pointed out that the machine was full and yelled “No to TPP!” before the staffer could again switch me to the (still full) answering machine.

    I doubt that anybody has listened to the machine yet, but maybe she’ll get the message anyway, so to speak.

    1. Elizabeth

      I’ve had the same frustrating experience with Pelosi’s office – once you mention TPP, the receptionist immediately cuts you off and you go to voicemail. Yesterday, I asked the receptionist if Pelosi listens to her “comment line” – no answer, except “do you want the comment line”?

  13. Sanctuary

    “Do you see the other tricks? If TAA fails, no one has to take a vote on TPA (which pleases those frightened by Heritage Action, among others). Also, a vote on the “Rule” plus a vote on TAA is still a vote for the anti-Medicare provision, since the anti-Medicare language has to be restored (by the Rule) into TAA if that bill is to be identical to the Senate version.”

    Am I missing something? The above paragraph seems to me to make it less likely that TAA or TPA passes. It sounded like to me that all the games and ploys used to get these passed has made them more unattractive and politically toxic and thus more easy to vote no.

  14. mitzimuffin

    I called Bonnie Watson Coleman’s office (NJ 12th Congressional Dist.-safe seat). The woman who answered asked me why I was calling. I said I wanted to find out where she stood on the tpp, et al.

    Her reply was: Oh, no no no, she doesn’t like any of those bills. She is a definite NO.

    1. jrs

      I have asked several times and been unable to find out where my congressperson stands. I suspect they are a “no” really, but we never know who will stab us in the back.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Keep calling. Or they’re holding out for some sausage. Make it clear to them that it’s not just their career, but their entire party that’s at stake, because when they surrender our national sovereignty, they will be hounded to the ends of the earth.

        1. craazyboy

          Mine’s on the Homeland Security committee, so I’m a little worried who it is that will be hounded to the ends of the earth. Gotta be careful who gets a hold of your phone number.

          1. different clue

            Perhaps there is a politer way to say that. Something like ” at least vote NO on TAA if you can’t vote NO on all three. If Fast Track (TPA) ends up passing, that means the Democratic Party has let me down and I can’t be a Democrat anymore.

  15. marym

    CSPAN reporting vote to start at 1pm Eastern (9 mins ago).


    Marilyn Geewax ‏@geewaxnpr · 1m1 minute ago
    .@NancyPelosi praises @POTUS econ leadership, but questions why his priority is to #fasttrack #trade. Says “slow down” may be needed.

    If you don’t have access to CSPAN2 tv or live stream, that twitter account is a livetweet.

  16. phred

    Sounds like Nancy has heard you loud and clear Gaius, she is struggling mightily in her speech right now to get that albatross off from around her neck.

    I think DDay has it right, she couldn’t get the votes and is now trying to extricate herself from taking the blame.

  17. Paul Tioxon

    “Sadly”, Nancy Pelosi will VOTE NO on TAA to slow down fast track. From her just completed live speech on c-span.

  18. Brindle

    Don’t know what Pelosi’s no vote on TAA means as far as vote count, we’ll find out shortly.

  19. Paul Tioxon

    Absolutely bi-partisan crushing defeat of TAA HR1314, Republicans out voting the dems against, as of now, 158 Nays – R and 144. 302 nays.

    Now voting on TPA. 5 minute vote.

    1. grayslady

      The R’s were either very clever or very stupid to tie TAA to Medicare cuts. What congresscritter wants to run on having voted to cut Medicare? The D’s were correct to tell Pelosi they didn’t trust the “we’ll fix it later” language. When has that ever happened?

      1. hunkerdown

        “Question 1 – TAA. If this vote fails, no further action will be taken on the remaining trade motions. If this vote passes, the House will proceed to” TPA.

        Point of order? Or is “failed vote” a term of art?

    2. phred

      Sadly, TPA itself got enough votes to pass, so still plenty of members of Congress ready and willing to betray their oaths of office and the country. That said, the support of TPA is a moot point thanks to those Dems who saw the light and took down TAA.

  20. theadr

    Called my Rep. Hunter (R-CA). The staffer said he will vote against fast track because of lack of transparency. I told her that I agreed and thank you.

  21. phred

    Seeing comments on Twitter saying Boehner plans to reconsider TAA next week, so looks like it’s not dead yet…

  22. different clue

    What would happen if significant and successful DOS attacks were made against all websites and addresses related to the pro TPP/Fast Track Democrats, and kept in place long enough to paralyze the efforts of these Democratic traitors to co-ordinate anything about anything which requires the use of a computer or a device?

    Not that I am encouraging such an illegal thing. No one should encourage anyone to break the law. But what if law-flippoffers like Anonymous and others were to do such a thing anyway?

  23. John Yard

    My representative is Adam Schiff ( D-Pasadena ). He has been a charter ‘blue dog’ Democrat , taking conservative positions for many years. He is on the House Intelligence committee. To my suprise/shock ,
    he has been taking good stands on tpp and surveilance, and on other issues too obscure to mention here.
    My sense is that he has been getting a lot of feedback from his voters , and he is responding. Remember,
    contact them with your opinions, but also when they vote positively, contact them and thank them.

  24. Tom Hammett

    House of Representatives Roll Call Vote 362 Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
    Ayes 219, Noes 211, Not Voting 4
    The 28 Democrats who voted for Fast Track
    From the House of Representatives Directory
    Ashford, Brad – Nebraska 2nd (202)225-4155
    Bera, Ami – California 7th (202)225-5716
    Beyer, Don – Virginia 8th (202)225-4376
    Blumenauer, Earl – Oregon 3rd (202)225-4811
    Bonamici, Suzanne – Oregon 1st (202)225-0855
    Connolly, Gerald E. – Virginia 11th (202)225-1492
    Cooper, Jim – Tennessee 5th (202)225-4311
    Costa, Jim – California 16th (202)225-3341
    Cuellar, Henry – Texas 28th (202)225-1640
    Davis, Susan – California 53rd (202)225-2040
    Delaney, John – Maryland 6th (202)225-2721
    DelBene, Suzan – Washington 1st (202)225-6311
    Farr, Sam – California 20th (202)225-2861
    Himes, Jim – Connecticut 4th (202)225-5541
    Hinojosa, Rubén – Texas 15th (202)225-2531
    Johnson, Eddie Bernice – Texas 30th (202)225-8885
    Kilmer, Derek – Washington 6th (202)225-5916
    Kind, Ron – Wisconsin 3rd (202)225-5506
    Larsen, Rick – Washington 2nd (202)225-2605
    Meeks, Gregory W. – New York 5th (202)225-3461
    O’Rourke, Beto – Texas 16th (202)225-4831
    Peters, Scott – California 52nd (202)225-0508
    Polis, Jared – Colorado 2nd (202)225-2161
    Quigley, Mike – Illinois 5th (202)225-4061
    Rice, Kathleen – New York 4th (202)225-5516
    Schrader, Kurt – Oregon 5th (202)225-5711
    Sewell, Terri A. – Alabama 7th (202)225-2665
    Wasserman Schultz, Debbie – Florida 23rd (202)225-7931

  25. knowbuddhau

    I hope Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA 2nd) is one of those of whom Jim Dean speaks. Voted for both. On his Facebook, casts voting for TAA as voting to protect a 40-year old Democratic program to help people hurt by trade. To help. people. hurt. by. trade. Thanks to my NC ninja training, hit him with the stats.

    In claiming credit for TAA helping out 17,500 Washingtonians, he didn’t say out of how many. So I looked it up. According to BLS, 28,818 of us have lost our jobs (such a vast understatement when extra employment nulla sallus) in the NAFTA-WTO era. Leaving at least 11,300 unaccounted for.

    I suggested that rather than repeating the same pattern of putting thousands out of work and then paying to “help” (whatever that might mean) many but still leave many thousands forseeably out in the cold by the actions of their representatives, stop putting us out of work in the first place.

    I didn’t say it but I never like asking for jobs. Jawbs aren’t the answer, I’ve got 5, I don’t need another thanks. What we need are livelihoods. I’ll bring that up next time.

    1. knowbuddhau

      “It gets worse. I was in a hurry earlier. TAA has helped 17,500, you say? The rest of the article says, “In Washington, there are 72,192 such workers certified as having lost their job due to imports or offshoring under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. (Note: This program is difficult to qualify for, and this figure only includes those workers who were certified.)” That leaves over 64 thousand Washingtonians out of work and out of luck due to the actions of their own representatives. “Trade” didn’t put us out of work, our public servants did. And then it turns out the promises of help are hollow. The last time we went through this, under Clinton I’ll remind my fellow Democrats, there were ample warnings about job loss, and all the corporate Dems said, don’t worry, trust us, we’ve learned. it’ll be different. Well it wasn’t. And this time, there’s that whole undermining our sovereignty problem you can’t sweep under the rug so easily. We’re just trying to do our thing over here, expecting you all in Washington to be setting the conditions for our success, not selling us out and offering crumbs to a lucky few. Over the same 40 years we’ve seen productivity go up but wages stay flat while the 1% get fat. I know, you say, this time will be different! No sir, it won’t. Please rethink your position.”

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