Joe Firestone: TPP – Fast Track, the Next Rounds In Congress

Yves here. A Beltway source says that the Administration’s loss on the TAA vote last week was an abject humiliation for Obama, given that he had whipped for Fast Track personally and even deigned to make one of his rare visits to Congress to make a pitch. He also said that corporate interest and support for the TPP and Fast Track was far less than the media would have you believe. He’s seen far less in the way of lobbying than is normal for Administration priorities. The reason, apparently, is that the bill really does not do much for multinationals. They recognize that trade is substantially liberalized, and while that having better rights to protect their interests in Malaysia might have some economic value, they don’t see it as worth much to them. In other words, this bill is narrow and inefficient looting, with the meaningful beneficiaries comparatively few in number.

Nevertheless, it is very important to keep the pressure on. The TAA victory had many fathers, and the push by labor was a big factor, but another was the number of calls made by concerned citizens.

The Administration is expected to make another try this week. The procedure they used last week was “splitting the question” in which they sought to pass Fast Track by severing the bill into three constituent parts and having each passed separately. That’s why the failure on TAA scuppered that effort.

The Administration can try again on TAA alone to see if it can push it over the line (which seems unlikely given the magnitude of defeat) or it can try for a vote on the full Fast Track authority. The Administration had been loath to go that route since they’d have to go back to the Senate, and they are loath to do that ((I’m not clear on how the last week device of splitting the question solved that issue, but I am told it would have).

So please call your Representative today! Here is the roll call on TAA and on the Fast Track vote. Please tailor your message to how they voted (thanks if they voted against both and a reminder you expect them to do the same again, clear disapproval if they voted for Fast Track and/or the TAA). If you need to reprimand your Congresscritter, give a short reason or two why you opposed these deal, and make clear that a vote for either bill will cost them your vote. Enlist as many people as you can to make calls.

You can find phone numbers here.

By Joe Firestone, Ph.D., Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director of KMCI’s CKIM Certificate program. He taught political science as the graduate and undergraduate level and blogs regularly at Corrente, Firedoglake and New Economic Perspectives. Originally published at

The roll call 126-302 vote (Roll call 361) defeating the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill was a result worth a little celebrating on Friday, since it was a very decisive victory on that particular vote, and also stopped the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) fast track bill from being sent to the President’s desk for signature. If the vote on TAA hadn’t failed, it would have been far more difficult (I don’t say impossible as many do) to defeat all manner of “free trade” agreements (aka multinational sovereignty agreements), including the currently scheduled Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services (TiSA) agreements over the next year or so.

Everything we know about these agreements is that they would have been a disaster for all but an extremely small segment of the people of the United States. So, we ought to be overjoyed that, for now, fast-track is stalled in the House, and may get pigeon-holed there for quite some time to come, if the re-vote on TAA fails. Still as Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, and Bill Black say in their recent posts, this stall may be short-lived if we don’t keep up the pressure and make sure that the Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with the President are, unsuccessful in reversing Friday’s vote on the TAA.

Our first job is to defeat the TAA in the House. It is unlikely that things will end there, but if we don’t, then the House’s package created by the Republican leadership, becomes law, including, most importantly, the TPA, will reach the President’s desk where he will, joyfully, sign it.

On the other hand, if the TAA, isn’t approved in the re-vote, then the House is likely to try to work out a compromise with the Senate to align their differing TPA bills and then return the result to each of the Houses for a vote on the compromise. So, first of all, what is the likelihood, that the TAA bill will be approved in the House? And if it is, then what is the likelihood that a compromise bill will be agreed upon in conference committee, and then approved In the House and the Senate?

Likelihood of Approval of TAA (and Consequently TPA/fast-track) In a Re-vote in the House

I’ve read every post-mortem on Friday’s TPA result I could find since Friday’s TAA vote. And while there’s a lot of speculation on what will happen if there is a re-vote of TAA on Tuesday, very little of the analysis seems to depart from an explanation of the actual roll call results of roll calls 361 and 362 by Party. Here are the results of these roll calls. Roll call 361 (the TAA Vote):

For: 126, 86 Republicans, 40 Democrats;
Against: 302, 158 Republicans, 144 Democrats.

Roll call 362 (the TPA vote):

For: 219, 191 Republicans, 28 Democrats;
Against: 211, 54 Republicans, 157 Democrats.

Since, on Friday, the TAA was perceived as the key vote on both the TAA and the TPA, why was roll call 361 so decisively against both, while roll call 362, on the TPA alone was narrowly in favor of the TPA?

In other words, why were these votes so at variance with each other? No post-mortem I’ve seen has really considered this carefully, and tried to explain it. But plainly, one’s explanation has to be the foundation for projecting how any re-vote in the House on the TAA/TPA is likely to come out.

So, what does the TAA/TPP vote mean? From a Republican point of view I think it means that by and large the Republicans in the House hate trade adjustment assistance much more than they like giving the President fast track authority. In fact, they pretty much don’t like that choice either, but since the Republican establishment wanted TPA, a majority of them might have gone along with that if they didn’t have to swallow TAA too, and defy lobby groups, such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action and various talk show hosts, as well as vote against their own ideological aversion to approving welfare programs, which is what TAA is from their point of view.

In addition, TAA, as finally structured in the House bill, had gotten rid of the Medicare cut “pay-for” and replaced it with a tax enforcement and loophole closing one. This, too offended the Republican rank and file members who probably thought of this as a tax increase breaking their promises never to vote for one.

In short, even though the mainstream view of the maximum limit of Republican opposition to the TPA was 57, roll call 361 shows 158 Republican votes against it, an entirely unexpected result showing that the Republican leadership has lost touch with their members when it comes to gauging the extent of their resentment against leadership attempts to force trade adjustment benefits and a small tax increase down their throats for the sake of the interests of Wall Street and the multinationals. Republicans might generally support corporations and view small business as one of their important constituencies, but that doesn’t mean they love foreign multinationals and the lemon socialism they are bringing to the table.
On the Democratic side, the Party’s traditional support for trade adjustment assistance was overcome with 144 votes against, because Democrats realized that a vote for the TAA was a vote for the TPA, and the vast majority of them were against that passionately. Not just out of principle, but because 1) Democratic leadership was obviously divided on the issue with the Administration wanting it badly; 2) the formal leaders in the Houses were seemingly neutral, and many other influential Democrats, as well as the rank and file strongly against it; 3) the Democratic Party in the House was probably recognizing that the Administration had lost them the key election of 2010, and made them weaker in 2012 and 2014 then they otherwise would have been, with its insistence on passing and supporting a neo-liberal health care “reform” bill, bailing out the health care insurers, that couldn’t possibly begin to be effective until 2015; 4) the Administration had tried to lead them down a primrose path of more electoral failure with its failed “Grand Bargain” effort to cut the entitlements so important to Democratic constituencies and the identity of the Party; 5) the Administration’s determined effort to pass the potentially very unpopular package of the TPA, followed by the TPP, TTIP, and TiSA agreements would very likely also seriously erode their electoral support with their core constituencies; and 6) in the end, most of the Democratic members may have realized that there was no percentage in them voting against their own perceived interests for the sake of the President’s “legacy” and may, just perhaps, even gotten very angry over being asked to secure this legacy over their potentially very dead political bodies, in return for a TAA bill that would provide some $463 million in such assistance to be divided among a likely one million people and very possibly many more, that projections seemed to show would be put out of work by the contemplated trade agreements. Such Democrats might be forgiven for thinking that an attempt to buy them off with an average of $463 per unemployed person was not a very handsome offer from those wanting to pass the TPA and the subsequent likely trade agreements.

For many of the House Democrats this choice was probably a hard one, because they probably recognize the possibility that Republican challengers against Democratic incumbents will not hesitate to use their vote against TAA against them. But ultimately they probably decided after weighing the comparative political risks that, of the two risks, opposing TAA was far less risky than voting for TPA would have been.
So, why did 86 Republicans and 40 Democrats vote for the TAA/TPA? Well considering all the monied interests pushing the TPA on both sides of the aisle and also that the Republican leadership in the House was 100% in back of the TPA, while the President was constantly lobbying for it, it would have been amazing if there were even fewer votes for TAA/TPA. So, I think the reason why there were as many as 126 votes for the TAA bill, isn’t much of a mystery, and I’ll rest now with these explanations of both the negative and the positive sides of the way both parties voted on roll call 361.

Why Were the Votes So At Variance with Each Other?

So, why was there such a reversal of the vote count in roll call 362 on the question of the TPA itself. First, I think there was probably confusion about this vote. The Republican leadership had let it be known earlier than the vote that it had no intention of going ahead with the TPA if the TAA vote were to fail, because a failure in the TAA vote would render the TPA vote ineffective in sending it to the President’s desk. So, the occurrence of the TPA vote was a surprise that coalitions in neither party were ready for, and also only 5 minutes had been scheduled between the two votes. So suddenly the TPA vote, which was considered meaningless, was thrust upon the members of both parties without them having the chance to be clear about the possible implications of the vote.

Democrats, for their part improved their vote total against the TPA when voting on the clean TPA, gaining 13 votes on their previous 144 people. However, they didn’t reach previously predicted opposition totals of perhaps 164 to 168 against the TPA. Had they done so, TPA would have failed in the House on a close vote of 216 – 218, assuming the Republican opposition would have been constant at 54. So why did Democrats produce 28 votes for the TPA, rather than the 20 – 24 that were the most common predictions?

I think the explanation for this is that, probably, since TPA had already been stalled by the failure of TAA, this second vote didn’t seem as significant to them as the TAA was and some Democrats probably wondered why they had to further anger the Administration by voting down the TPA directly after it had already been blocked. The Republicans, too, probably had a similar motivation. 158 of them had collaborated with 144 Democrats to vote down the hated (by the Republicans) TAA, which vote also blocked TPA, so why did they have to anger their leadership and the various pro-TPA lobbying groups that had already lost over a “meaningless” vote. After all, expression of their anger and resentment was already fulfilled by the TAA vote, so why should they pour it on.

One thing is certain, the TPA vote in the House wasn’t a true test of the relative strength of the pro- and anti – TPA sides in conflict over TPA approval and one can’t project from this second vote to the likely result of a re-vote. In particular, the anti-TPA forces on both sides were not fully focused on this vote and its outcome, since the Democratic leadership was clearly not enforcing discipline as it would have been if this were the decisive vote, especially since this vote was unexpected.

On the other hand, for the pro-TPA forces on the Republican side, there was a tendency to go along with the leadership, since by the very act of scheduling the unexpected vote it was expressing a desire to have that vote and to have most Republicans give them something, even if that something was a small meaningless victory.

Implications of the Explanations for a Re-vote

I think the explanations suggest that the likely result of any re-vote on the TAA will be similar to the first vote for a number of reasons. First, for Democrats, their will be resentment over the fact that the Republican leadership, with the obvious encouragement of the President isn’t respecting the decision taken by the House on Friday, and is trying to make them go on the record again in rejecting their TPA program. I think they will view this as adding insult to the injury that the Administration has done them by putting them in the position of having to vote on these trade issues in the face of their obvious desire to forget about NAFTA-like trade agreements that have already caused the Party so much grief in the past.

They must be thinking, “why did this insufferably arrogant President push these deals for years when most of the Party wanted nothing to do with them, and why has he pushed them at a time when he is no longer vulnerable to voter retaliation while all of them retribution’? They may even be asking: “what right does he have to subject us to this risk of a major new “free trade” agreement, when he is all but a “lame duck” who can no longer help them, but only hurt them if he pursues an agenda that runs counter to the Party’s branding and likely 2016 populist orientation?”

Also, second, comes now Hillary Clinton, who just today responded to the constant calls for her to take a position on the Trade deals. Of course, she straddled the fence to some degree by refusing to declare either for or against the TPP and the other contemplated trade deals. However, she said:

”The president should listen to and work with his allies in Congress starting with Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers to make sure we get the best strongest deal possible” . . . And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.

This isn’t a complete repudiation of the fast-track legislation, but it is hard to see how the President could respond positively to this statement except by making the TPP and the other deals public, and negotiating their terms with the various stakeholders in Congress and elsewhere who are now opposed to the TPP, and the other deals based on leaked information about them. It is especially hard to see how he could do that without releasing the draft texts of the agreements, since he can hardly work with them if they don’t know what is in these drafts or cannot discuss them with their staffs.

How will this statement by Hillary Clinton affect pro-TPP Democrats in the Clinton wing of the Party on Tuesday? How will people like Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Jim Himes (D-CT), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Scott Peters (D-CA), John Delaney (D-MD), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Derek Kilmer (D-Wa); and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) vote for TAA/TPA when there hoped for future leader is providing no support for TPA fast-track and may not have their backs?

With Pelosi, now publicly on the anti-TPA side and Clinton certainly tending toward that definite position, how many of the 40 Democrats who voted for TAA/TPA will stick with their position? What’s in it for them to support their lame duck president, while remaining in seeming disagreement with their most likely choice for the top of their ticket in 2016? Anyone for those 40 Democrats suddenly becoming 20, or even 5 or 6, come Tuesday?

And on the Republican side, with 158 of them in opposition to the TAA/TPA on Friday, and 54 of them still in opposition to the TPA even when they had a chance to vote on a clean TPA bill which was purely symbolic and did not require them to vote for the hated TAA “welfare,” how many of them do you suppose will now vote for TAA/TPA on the re-vote? They too, will be angry at Boehner and Ryan for making them vote again on the combined TAA/TPP.

So why would that initial 158 Republican votes in opposition suddenly be less than in the first TAA vote? And even if were, and that number fell to say 146 or so in opposition, which is the other side of the coin of Boehner’s statement that he doesn’t think he can produce more than 100 votes for the TAA in the re-vote, even if there still were 20 Democrats who remain in support of TAA, then we would still have 146 Republicans + 168 Democrats or so against the TAA on Tuesday, a vote of 314 against and, at most, 120 votes for.

Implications If the TPA Goes to a Conference Committee

So, then TPA could not go directly to the President. It would have to go back to square one in the House, or be sent to a Conference Committee, where a compromise bill would be produced. That compromise bill would then face the following pitfalls.

1. To hold the TPA Democrats in both Houses, the compromise bill would have to have more generous Trade Adjustment Assistance than the House came up with.
2. It would also have to have a “pay-for” that did not cut Medicare for House Democrats in order to have them sign on.
3. In addition, it could not “pay for” the TAA with increased taxes, or it would be unacceptable to the Republican rank-and-file in the House.
4. Nor, could it have TAA provisions that would in the least bit soften the impact of coming unemployment for Democratic constituencies, since if it did then House Republicans would likely balk.
So, there is a very fine line to walk between the Senators demanding trade adjustment assistance who are needed in the Senate to overcome a filibuster and the Republican House members who hate TAA. That’s going to be a tough one to handle.
5. Also, there is the climate issue. Paul Ryan inserted some last minute changes in the Republican customs enforcement bill coming out of the House constraining the President from agreeing to obligating ”the United States with respect to global warming or climate change.” This will make some of the Senators on the Democratic side such as: Ron Wyden (D-OR); Patty Murray (D-WA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) very unhappy indeed. On the other hand, not having that kind of constraint in fast-track will make the tea party side in the House equally unhappy.
6. Alongside all of these difficulties, the pro-TPA forces now have to face the obstacle of time. Tuesday is June 16. The President’s time schedule called for TPA to be completed by the end of this month. That is still possible to do, if the bill doesn’t go to a Conference, but if it does, then it is hard to see how the issues discussed above can easily be compromised before recess at the beginning of July, and then our erstwhile representatives in the House and the Senate will have to go home and face their constituents on the issues of the TPA, and the other agreements.

They will have to explain both the noxious content of the agreements that have leaked, and also why the President is insisting on secrecy and on getting the Congress to bias voting in favor of the agreements before they and their staffs have had a full opportunity to deliberate over these agreements with their colleagues, staffs, and the public. These matters won’t be easy for our representatives to explain and they may find themselves encountering fury on the right whipped up by pundits and also very vocal opposition among more progressive constituencies over why Democrats are exposing them to great risks so that the already wealthy can make more money.

Expect the kind of long, hot summer we enjoyed a few some years ago when the Affordable Care Act was moving through Congress, except that now there will anger coming from all sides directed at TPA proponents who will undoubtedly explain to us why their determination to do the bidding of the wealthy and powerful must be seen as a demonstration of extraordinary courage and integrity by the rest of us. Long past time for the pitchforks, I’m afraid.

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  1. Blue Meme

    I’ve both written and called my congresscritter, and will reach out again.

    I have my fingers crossed that TPP will stay dead. And if it does, this may be beside the point. But here’s what I don’t understand: to me, the strongest argument against granting fast track was always the fact that the underlying agreement was secret. The public (thinks it) supports free trade. But nobody wants to buy a pig in a poke. If I had a platform to shout from, that would have been how I would have talked about this thing every chance I could: no blank checks for a sight-unseen deal. And I would have openly speculated about the reason for the secrecy: if proponents thought we would LIKE the deal, they wouldn’t have gone to such pains to hide its terms.

    1. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      I like the secrecy issue, and the jobs issue, and lots of other issues for opposing TPP. In fact, there are so many negatives that reading through them all makes on tired. But the issue I think is most important is the sovereignty issue: national, state, and local.

      It is not so much that I can’t see benefits to uniting with other nations and creating a world government. I’ve always been for that. But it has to be done through democratic processes and people have to give it up with the active participation and consent of the vast majority of the governed for something better that increases their freedom and delivers more, not less, democracy.

      I doubt that can happen during the lifetime of any of us alive today And I am absolutely opposed to manipulating people into supranational unions controlled by wealthy elites bent on re-creating feudalism. The United States should never give up its sovereignty for that fool’s gold!

      1. Blue Meme

        My point was that issues like jobs are ineffective because the pro-TPP shills insist that it will create jobs, and the press will never, ever call them on it. All of the other substantive arguments are too damned complex for your average business reporter, let alone the nightly news viewer.

        But what can they say to the argument that we should never approve a deal we aren’t allowed to even see? Even a Fox viewer can understand that one.

        1. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

          I think the sovereignty issue is really pretty simple, as well. It works like this: “You know these TPP, TTIP, and TiSA agreements establish these corporate-run “courts” and they can fine our governments if the Courts think that our governments have cost multinational foreign corporations operating here profits they expect to earn in the future.

          The decisions of these “courts” are above the decisions of our Congress, our President, and our Supreme Court, since our authorities, who are accountable to us, cannot countermand the decisions of these Courts, according the the agreements the President and Congress are now negotiating, because they are agreeing that the decisions of these courts will be above US law.

          Do you think that the President and Congress have the right to give these courts that kind of authority over our governments without passing a constitutional amendment authorizing that first? Or do you think this is the kind unconstitutional turnover of our sovereignty that motivated the first American Revolution in 1776?

          See? What’s so hard to understand about the above that it can’t be explained over a glass of beer?

        2. Spring Texan

          I don’t understand why no one is pushing point of the higher drug prices (both here and worldwide) that will result. That’s why Doctors without Borders is so opposed and yet it’s not mentioned. It’s a big Pharma enrichment bill that will literally KILL many people.

          I did notice the generic drugs people being quoted and that they are bitterly opposed in the below article in the NY Times on business reaction, but that’s practically all I’ve seen:

          Mark Grayson, a spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry trade group, said that the group was hopeful “that the House will pass the bill so it can get to the president’s desk.”
          He declined to comment on the group’s position on the overall pact, saying it was still being negotiated. But he made clear that the pharmaceutical industry was hoping for what he called “strong” intellectual property provisions to be included in the trade pact.
          He dismissed concerns that the pact could limit access to generic drugs, noting that the overwhelming majority of prescriptions filled in the United States were for generic medications, despite strong intellectual property laws in this country.
          Generic drug industry officials hailed the vote, however.
          Heather Bresch, the chief executive of Mylan, a generic drug maker, applauded the defeat on Friday by the House, saying it would give her more time to lobby against the trade pact.
          She and other leaders in the generic drug industry have argued that the pact goes too far in protecting the patents of the brand-name drug industry and would block access to generic drugs around the world.
          “I think it’s scary and dangerous that the president is looking for this kind of authority on a trade bill that I think has serious flaws in it,” she said. “It’s setting the global generic industry back 30 years.”
          “I’m thankful for this reconsideration, and I’m going to use this window to try and educate and let our voice be heard,” she said.

        1. frosty zoom

          hell, yeah!

          one currency, too.

          countries are just fictions created by rich men to serve their needs.

              1. Lambert Strether

                Like permaculturalists, our elites believe in stacking functions, so there will be many potential benefits from introducing a single change into a system. “It’s a two-fer,” three-fer, four-fer… n-fer….

    2. Twinny

      These trade agreements will OFICALLY, create a REAL OFFICAL fascist government in EVERY CONUTRY that signs onto these agreements. Philip Morris Tabaco Co is SUING URAGAY because their non-smoking campaign, designed by their oncologist president, adversely effected their corporate profits and guess who is hearing their “case”? THE TRIBUNAL CORPORATE LAWERYS FOR THE MULTINATION CORPORATIONS, they are the “JUDGES” !!!!! How’s THAT for democracy????? URAGAY’S NATIONAL LAWS ARE SUPERSEEDED BY THE TRADE AGREEMENTS THEY SIGNED FAVORING THE MULTINATIONALS. This is the CLASSIC definition of FASCISIM!!!! People need to wake the hell up before it’s too late and we are all FURTHER enslaved BY THESE CORPORATE AND BANKING PIGS!!!! Here’s the BEST explanation of these trade agreements I’ve heard so far…..Bernie Sanders in the US Senate….

  2. Carla

    I think Pelosi implied she was only against TPA until she gets her highway bill. Didn’t she?

    1. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      That’s true. She’s looking for a deal sweet enough to buy her caucus for Obama, and she thinks the only think that can work is a big job creating program!

      Jeff Sessions has more integrity underlying his opposition to TPP than Nancy Pelosi has. Not really much of a surprise.

  3. ChrisFromGeorgia

    I’m wondering if the House version of TPA included the Menendez anti-human trafficking amendment.

    If not, wouldn’t that be enough to force it back to conference? Or can they fudge that somehow?

    My big worry would be the GOP members holding their noses and changing their votes from NO to YES on TAA. Paul Ryan seems almost desperate at this point.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Yves’ introduction to this post addresses this at least partially (Fast Whack would have to go back to the Senate (to re-insert promotion tolerance of slavers and child prostitution – as long as it’s profitable) unless TAA got passed – and how passage of TAA obviates need to go back to the Senate remains unexplained).

      The Administration can try again on TAA alone to see if it can push it over the line (which seems unlikely given the magnitude of defeat) or it can try for a vote on the full Fast Track authority. The Administration had been loath to go that route since they’d have to go back to the Senate [to remove protection against slavery/prostitution], and they are loath to do that [go back to the Senate] ((I’m not clear on how the last week device of splitting the question solved that issue, but I am told it would have).

    2. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      I think that was handled in the Customs Enforcement Bill. That will need to go to Conference wth the Senate. But the Republicans have good reason to believe they they can compromise that with the Dem neoliberals in the Senate. However, the TAA and other issues mentioned above are not so easy to get around.

  4. hemeantwell

    The reason, apparently, is that the bill really does not do much for multinationals. They recognize that trade is substantially liberalized, and while that having better rights to protect their interests in Malaysia might have some economic value, they don’t see it as worth much to them. In other words, this bill is narrow and inefficient looting, with the meaningful beneficiaries comparatively few in number.

    I don’t follow the logic of this. If ISDS establishes and entrenches a claim to future profits against state action, what’s the downside? Aren’t all multinationals interested in guaranteeing investment profits against state action? Some MNCs might have more reason to anticipate problems, but wouldn’t they all, just to be on the safe side, see this as a good thing? To the extent that’s so, one wonders if the MNCs think they’ve overplayed their hand and are backing down or, to add a twist, want to appear to be disinterested, or democracy-friendly.

    Today’s link to the David Malone talk is very useful, I’d add.


    1. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      I think the ISDS part is fundamental and that the multinationals absolutely want that. Also, they have worked hard to get this done through the STR. They never expected to have too much trouble with this. They just thought it could be done quietly, and I think they’re not lobbying as heavily now as perhaps they should be because they don’t want to make it too obvious that they are behind this whole effort!

  5. Tom Hammett

    Nancy Pelosi was so uncomfortable on Friday giving her speech about her not supporting the Trade Assistance Adjustment (TAA) and the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA or fast track) that I can see her switching to supporting it on Tuesday June 16.

    Nancy Pelosi with a net worth of $26.4 million as of June 2012 and a salary of $193,400 as minority leader meets the income threshold, including capital gains*, for the top five-tenths of one percent (0.5%, $ 589,250) if not the one-tenth of one percent (0.1%, $1,669,100).

    Where did all of the socially moderate but fiscal conservative republicans go when the Republican Party kicked them out? It appears that they moved to the Democratic Party which explains why the party has been moving to the right over time. The very rich Davos Democrats look as if they are attempting to bring back Feudalism as the economic system where they are the nobles and everyone else is a serf.

    The Declaration of Independence proclaims that all men have a right to “the pursuit of happiness.”

    The perfect example of a Davos Democrats is billionaire Jeff Greene who flew his wife, children and two nannies on a private jet to Davos for the week of the World Economic Forum. Jeff Greene unsuccessfully ran to become the Democratic Senate candidate in Florida in 2010.

    When speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, this is what Greene said about American expectations.

    America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence.

    We need to reinvent our whole system of life.

    * The income thresholds including capital gains, or the income levels, is from Alvaredo, Facundo, Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, The World Top Incomes Database, March 1, 2015 update.

    1. Praedor

      I agree with Greene, the US does live labret than it should, consumes vastly more resources than it should…but I’ll be damned if I go along with the “little people” having to cut back and live simply workout also forcing bazillionaires like Greene to cut WAY back too. EVERYONE, not just real people.

    2. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      Pelosi was uncomfortable, and that’s probably because she just wants to get to “yes.” However, if she hadn’t expressed her opposition to TPA she would have gone against most of her caucus and that may have jeopardized her future leadership status. So, she came home, for the moment.

      Now with Hillary saying she wants these negotiations to be more public and collaborative, Pelosi will be further cross-pressured and, I think, will throw Obama under the bus, some more.

  6. James Levy

    Obama, as usual, seems to elude me here. Why is he wasting the last ounce of his Presidential influence on what has been looking like an unpopular and hopeless cause? He’s going to get his $10 million book advance, his pension and diamond healthcare coverage for life, his massive speaker fees and endowed Presidential Library. People want to make that the issue, but I can’t see it. As for legacy, does anyone run around saying that Bill Clinton was a terrific president because of NAFTA? Does Obama think that historians are going to see NAFTA as some kind of triumph? Then how could he imagine that TPP is going to cement his “legacy”? And if Yves’s source is correct, then the majority of American corporations aren’t even interested in expending money or influence to get this nonsense passed.

    We ourselves may be indulging in a form of 11 dimensional chess here in thinking that the actions in Washington have anything more behind them than hubris, stupidity, and dick-waving. I know at times the rich are angling for advantage down there, and that that matters. But often what I see are a bunch of ignorant clowns posturing, preening, and trying to settle scores or show who’s boss.

    1. craazyboy

      The only thing that really makes any sense is that it really is not a trade bill – it’s the next logical step after Citizen’s United and gets pesky, argumentative and time wasting things out of the way like national legal systems and interference by governments in things that detract from corporate profitability.

      It may take time for a broader swath of corporations to figure out what is in it for them – it’s like having a cool new toolset , but you need your lawyers and MBAs to figure what you can build with it.

      Besides, if you are a company that merely exports lawnmowers to Malaysia (why doesn’t Malaysia buy our lawnmowers now????) , you may find out the bill gives you stronger legal protection to put a lawnmower factory in Malaysia – plus enjoy tariff protection from Chinese lawnmowers in Malaysia. But the big payoff is in selling your subsidiary’s lawnmowers in the big US market because you will have “become competitive” with Chinese lawnmowers.

      Corporations play 2 dimensional checkers all the time. It’s easy.

      1. nippersdad

        “….and gets pesky, argumentative and time wasting things out of the way like national legal systems and interference by governments in things that detract from corporate profitability.”

        Bingo! Also, it is not just money. As we have already passed the tipping point for an inevitable huge die off due to climate change, it will be important for them to get their reservations in early for whatever Galt’s Gulch has been denominated the escape pod. I think that this would get his ticket punched in a heartbeat so the kids won’t have to endure the messy results back home.

        1. PhilK

          Like NZ, for example:

          * The super-rich snapping up luxurious properties in New Zealand – but many don’t plan to move there anytime soon

          * Instead, they are holding onto the homes as possible ‘boltholes’, should the west go into meltdown in the future

          * Global leaders at Davos hinted they would want an escape route if the poor rose up against the growing super-rich

          * New Zealand is rated the third safest country in the world, according to the 2013 Global Peace Index

          * The buyers will also get to enjoy some of the world’s best scenery, a great quality of life and a favourable tax system

          Where your boss will be come the revolution: ‘Boltholes with airstrips’ in New Zealand that are being bought by world’s super-rich who want a hideout in case of ‘civil uprising’

          1. Oregoncharles

            Confirmation that the elites are seriously worried about an “uprising.” They’re in an excellent position to know how badly they’re ripping the rest of us off. I really think this is the real reason for the progressive crackdown on civil liberties and the broad-scale militarization. Personally, I found the “Jade Helm” military maneuvers in the SW very worrying for just this reason. What ARE they practicing for, anyway?

            I just wish I saw it coming. So far, there is very little sign of real resistance. If we can’t even get them to vote for the Green Party, how do we get them to join some sort of uprising?

            One real concern for me is that, with the dead weight of complacency on the US, we’ll blow right past any chance of POLITICAL – hence relatively bloodless – uprising and go right into the violent phase, because people won’t act until they’re that mad.

              1. juliania

                And just so you know, New Zealanders are getting quite a bit hot under the collar about all of the real estate shenanigans. Down there they do remember the Rainbow Warrior incident, so those boltholes may end up having the wrong kind of bolts on them.

                Just saying.

  7. tgs

    Why is he wasting the last ounce of his Presidential influence on what has been looking like an unpopular and hopeless cause?

    Because he really believes in it? And I do not believe it is a hopeless cause – they will find a way to get this done. We are talking about something many of the most powerful people in the world want badly – they are not going to give up; they have the resources to keep on coming.

    Hope I’m wrong.

    1. Steve

      Obama craves acceptance and praise from the Davos crowd. That’s why he gets so peevish with “the little people” when they get in his way.

  8. Cugel

    I think this article ignores the only real chance that TPP now has, and that almost certainly not a re-vote on TAA. I think that was merely some bull-headed instinct by Obama to think he’s going to find enough votes to pass TAA through the House.

    The real chance this has is in abandoning TAA entirely, going over to the Senate and trying to get them to vote a pure TPP based largely on Republican votes and get some kind of promise to re-visit TAA later to soften Democratic opposition there. Since there can’t be a filibuster, I think the President can simply say “screw the party, let’s just pick up Republicans who are opposed to a combined TPP/TAA and ram it through on TPP alone!”

    TAA after all is merely a sop to allow corporatist Democrats to pretend they care about working people while voting to send jobs to China. It was never really essential. Since Republicans don’t have to pretend not to be corporate whores they can simply get 51 to vote TPP through.

    All the commentary I’ve seen has dismissed this option by saying they would “lose Democratic votes” that only supported the entire turd because of the cover TAA gave them. But, now that TPP alone is passed by the House, why couldn’t they just go over to the Senate, vote through straight TPP and then pass that with almost solely Republican votes? Then reconcile the bills if necessary.

    It’s a lot more messy because it gives opponents more time to rally opposition, but it also gives more time for corporate lobbying by the news media along the lines of “China will crawl under our beds and grab us when we get up to pee in the middle of the night if we don’t pass this wonderful Trade Bill!”

    1. ambrit

      And we all know just what China is going to grab us by too. (Our ‘My Little Ponies,’ our ‘Hello Kitties,’ or our ‘Happy Meal toys.’) Funny how “China” looks a lot like Uncle ‘Helicopter’ Ben, and that nice Uncle Bob.

    2. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      They can’t just go over to the Senate because the filibuster applies until fast-track is passed in both Houses, and they can’t get a clean fast-track bill, without TAA through the Senate. Too many of the 13 Democrats who voted for the Senate bill have said they will not vote for TPA without TAA. This is all covered in the above post.

  9. TG

    How can you tell a Democrat from a Republican? A Democrat will cut your legs off with a chainsaw and then give you a bandaid. A Republican will also cut your legs off with a chainsaw, but they consider bandaids to be immoral.

    As said, call call call your representatives!

    And even more important, remember where they stood when it counted and never forget. Even if they are for/against gay marriage or other red herrings that the oligarchs don’t care about. To a great extent we are paying the price for letting people like the Clintons and Obamas etc. stab us in the back and then getting away with it. Let’s have some political careers ruined over this and then we will make progress.

    1. timbers

      The version I heard was: How can you tell a Republican from a Democrat?

      A Republican will tell you you’re shit and shot you in the stomach. A Democrat will say he wants to help you and shot you in the stomach then stab you in the back when leaving.

  10. Brooklin Bridge

    Agree with James about who the hell would want any of these traitor “trade” agreements as part of their Legacy, never mind the hit-man special, Fast Whack. ???

    Perhaps “Legacy” is code for “Con Job” and there is a Skull and Bones type cabal among presidents as to who can pull the biggest “Legacy” job on those Rham Emanuel poetically refers to as fu*king retards (I think he means US).

    1. Praedor

      Obama wants them because he’s set to become a billionaire on the “rewards” after leaving office. I have no doubt that he’s invested well in companies that will make out like bandits (because they are bandits) OR receive outrageous speaking fees, Board of Director offers, etc, from criminal corporations left and right.

      1. James Levy

        He’s going to get all that anyway. Nixon did way fewer favors for the rich and died a rich man. Obama is going to be taken care of. And if what Yves reports here is correct, then many corporations couldn’t give a rats ass for TPP. They have their own strategies going forward, and they can buy enough judges and politicians that they don’t need TPP.

        Presidents are vain. They bust a gut and sell their soul so that they don’t become, in the words of Dana Carvey, “a one-termer”. Obama looks in the mirror and he sees greatness. He wants a “legacy”. He sees TPP in some crazy way as tied into that legacy. What scares me is that these men (and perhaps soon a woman) get so cut off from reality and the people they presumptively “serve” that they imagine shit like this as boosting their historical cred. This makes me believe that the office itself is now toxic and that we’d better do something about that before it is too late (of course, in my heart I know it already is, but Lambert wants us not to demoralize and demotivate the troops before the battle commences).

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        But the question isn’t why he wants them, it’s why he would want them for his Legacy? It’s a bit like wanting to be remembered for your child killing gas chambers. Hillary isn’t going to brag about how NAFTA was Bill’s legacy, for instance, and how after her coronation she will do her level best to top it with more hegemony for corporations.

        It’s true, something is very messed up if Obama actually imagines these so called “trade” agreements are in any way worthy of being considered a legacy. It’s too much of a stretch for me. I suspect he knows pretty well what these deals represent for the public, but that the term, Legacy, is simply considered good PR.

  11. August West

    Is it me or is anyone else hearing the war drums beating loudly yesterday and today. The latest arguments for passing the Trade Agreement seems to be that if they are not passed it will damage us beyond repair geopolitically because Obama will look so weak on the world stage. This is plain old scare tactics and it is making me sick. Just heard Larry Summers on CNBC making this argument. So not only should we be deathly afraid of ISIS, Iran and Russia, but also that if Trade Agreement is not passed these situations will get worse? They will stoop to any level.

    1. susan the other

      Yes. We are supposed to be evolving away from tribal warfare. But it is the nature of evolution that there is always a vestige. In the case of the TPP, TTIP, TISA etc, the trade “agreements” are done with one objective in mind: to create military allies. That’s still our undisputed business model. I’d be willing to guess that some of the secret stuff that even Wikileaks couldn’t put out there had to do with military pacts and our willingness to give our trusted trade “partners” all the nukes they might one day need. Because this is still the name of the game in all our affairs international. The trade stuff, the Investor-State tribunals, the back door around national environmental and trade laws, is all secondary. And equally horrifying.

      1. James Levy

        Partially agree. But I think it has more to do with preventing these states from defecting to China or a Sino-centric block than with mobilizing them as allies against Russia and/or China.

        In the Cold War days we could promise foreign “leaders” that their wives could shop in Paris or on 5th Avenue and their kids could go to Oxford or Harvard if they sided with us against the Russians. Their elite would have access to top consumer and luxury goods and a vacation in Disneyworld. The Russians could promise them an AK-47 in every pot and maybe a big hydroelectric dam or (god help them) a Soviet-style nuclear power station.

        Today, the US can’t offer the same level of sweet deal as it once could, and luxury items are no longer the exclusive purview of the West. The US can only offer opportunities for a tiny minority to become fantastically wealthy and the promise that that wealth will be sacrosanct as long as you continue to play ball for Uncle Sam. Trade and investment from China, however, is looking more attractive all the time, and with fewer strings attached at this stage of the game. So my guess is that TPP has a lot to do with keeping some of these states from defecting to “the other side”, as Summers sees it. But a growing number of reactionary Republicans and a holdover of vaguely liberal Democrats no longer sees this effort as worth the price here at home. They still think revitalizing America is a better strategy than keeping those East Asians dominoes from falling the wrong way. And I think they are right.

    2. sd

      I can’t believe I’m going to actually write this…I think Obama is a mad man. His hubris is off the charts. He really believes he knows it all.

  12. Praedor

    I do not understand why no one is challenging fast track on constitutional grounds. ALL treaties MUST receive 2/3s majority vote by the Senate to go into effect. The Constitution doesn’t allow for an end run whereby congress can skip past the treaty section of the document and pass binding treaties by mere simple majority.

    What trade agreement in modern times has engendered support of 2/3s of the Senate? They are all unconstitutional on their face because they were “ratified” by unconstitutional means. Fast track, by mere simple majority gives the Prez the ability to negotiate treaties and then when they are done a simple majority passes them into “law”. Nonsense! Without 2/3s of the senate ratifying them, they are not in effect and cannot be enforced. Hell, NAFTA was passed SHORT of a 2/3s majority so it is unenforceable. No way they get 2/3s on TPP, TTIP, TISA.

      1. Praedor

        NAFTA came very close in the Senate to the 2/3 mark but still fell short so I don’t see how it can be argued to be binding. There’s no ambiguity on this in the Constitution.

        1. James Levy

          What they are maintaining is that this is a “trade agreement”, NOT a treaty. Of course, you and I know that if this is true, then it doesn’t count as “the supreme law of the land” the way a treaty does, but if the two legacy parties want to play pretend, then we’ll have it and that will be that. As for the Supreme Court, they tied themselves up in knots once they started taking the “unitary executive” psychotic blather seriously, and are not likely to buck both the Congress, the President, and the two legacy parties. In fact, I can’t think of a case in the past 50 years when they have.

          1. Praedor

            If it’s not a treaty then it is a very weak agreement that can be nullified by a simple majority in Congress. A treaty is a bigger deal and if you try to claim they’re treaties then they are ALL non-binding because none of them (none) reached 2/3 majority in senate. So, they’re either ALL invalidated (including TPP, TTIP, and TISA) or they can be nullified by simple majority vote (and Congress needs to be pressured to nullify them). Can’t have it two ways,

          2. Praedor

            THAT’S the out then for Bernie Sanders as President or as people affected by antidemocratic ISDS “rulings”. TPP, etc, are NOT the supreme law of the land so the results are non binding if a court says so.

          3. craazyboy

            Except that from what we have heard so far from “leaks” about this thingy, is there is much that goes beyond what are considered trade issues. For instance extending the length of patents and copywrite. I saw one estimate (I think someone got the table of contents) that said it appeared the thingy was only 40% related to trade.

            Of course being secret, it’s hard to classify this animal, or determine what you read on the innertubes is true or not. But I’ll go with Occam’s Razor as the answer to why it’s secret.

            Then if we think Congress will review all the rulings, monetary awards, etc… that come as a result of these Tribunal rulings and enforce our Sovereignty protecting the rights and welfare of The People, we need to consider that some more as well.

    1. sleepy

      Trade agreements like the TPP aren’t considered Constitution Article II, Section 2 treaties under longstanding Supreme Court precedent.

      Unless you feel like droning through old Supreme Court cases, Wiki has a good take on this:

      Between 1946 and 1999, the United States completed nearly 16,000 international agreements. Only 912 of those agreements were treaties, submitted to the Senate for approval as outlined in Article II of the United States Constitution. Since the Franklin Roosevelt presidency, only 6% of international accords have been completed as Article II treaties.[1] Most of these executive agreements consist of congressional-executive agreements.

      1. Praedor

        Thank you, in that case they are all only weakly binding and easily nullified by simple majority vote.

  13. Gaius Publius

    Nice rundown. Also consider that Murray (who is rising in Senate leadership, and to my eyes, eagerly so) and Cantwell, both from Washington, home of Boeing, also held TPA hostage for a reauthorization vote on Ex-Im Bank that McConnell promised (in exchange for their TPA vote) and now seems to be reneging on:

    The charter authorizing the credit agency, which is charged with accepting credit risk to help spur the sale of American-made goods abroad, expires at the end of June. … In the Senate, Cantwell was able to to extract a promise from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who opposes reauthorizing the bank, by withholding support for fast-track authority. But McConnell only promised a vote at some point, not before the deadline.

    Wheels within wheels.


    1. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      Thanks for pointing that out, Gaius. Boeing does a good deal of its business through the Ex-Im bank.

      Murray and Cantwell are both cross-pressured from the jobs side and the environment side as are some of the Washington Reps. That’s why TAA is important to them and why, also, we can start to get some squealing from them over Ryan’s customs enforcement bill and its constraints on environmental and climate change regulation in the context of the trade treaties. Ryan was trying to buy off the tea party in the House. But, of course, it makes problems for Democrats from Washington and Oregon including Wyden and Blumenauer.

      I don’t think the attempt to put the TPA back together will be easy!

  14. qufuness

    Pelosi’s rambling speech after the vote gave the definite impression that she’s still in favor of getting Fast Track passed. Has she actually come out and said clearly that she opposes TPA? Also, neither she nor Hillary are speaking in favor of ending the secrecy surrounding TPP. I’m left with the distinct impression that Pelosi is for Fast Track and TPP. Hillary’s advice to Obama essentially amounts to, “Pelosi is the one who can tell you how to get the bill passed soonest.”

    1. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      I didn’t see it quite that way. Pelosi called for slowing down the fast-track. That means letting TPA roll into summer and exposing the deals much more to the Congress before TPA is passed. Hillary seemed said she agreed with Pelosi, so I think she has to be viewed as wanting to relax the secrecy around it too. Pelosi voted against TAA, also against TPA, so to go back now she’d have to have a different TPA to avoid looking like a caver. If they want her back, they’ll have give her something she can move her caucus with.

  15. Oregoncharles

    I sent this off to the Oregon Green Party lists, with phone numbers for the Oregon Trade Traitors:

    Blumenauer, Dist. 3: 202-225-4811;
    Schrader, Dist. 5: 202-225-5711;
    Bonamici, Dist. 1: 202-225-0855;

    DeFazio voted against. Now I’ll go call them myself.

  16. Jill

    This is the bank bailout bill of 2008 all over again. Calls, including threats, will be made and votes will change to the “correct” vote. Fast Track is the most important aspect of the entire deal.

    I will definitely keep up pressure. I don’t expect the TAA to be rejected a second time, but it doesn’t matter. It’s important to try stopping it. Doing nothing assures its success. The only chance is to try.

    1. Ulysses

      “It looks like there might not be action this week after all to move President Barack Obama’s trade agenda.

      House Republicans had intended to hold a vote Tuesday to reconsider last week’s failed vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation, needed to send the Trade Promotion Authority bill — which passed — to the president’s desk.

      But the Rules Committee on Monday evening put language in its rule governing floor debate for an unrelated measure — the fiscal 2016 authorization of intelligence programs — to extend the House’s ability to reconsider the TAA vote up until July 30, the very last possible moment before the month-long August recess.

      This gives lawmakers and the White House seven more weeks to engage members on both sides of the aisle and determine the best course of action”

      I think time is on our side here. Every day of delay, thousands more people have a chance to hear about this horrifying transnational corporate power grab– and start to voice their displeasure. The transnational kleptocrats will of course try to muddy the waters, and catch us napping. Yet their greed exceeds their cunning, and they won’t find it so easy to sell us this pig-in-a-poke!

  17. Jay M

    The lame duck, what is he doing but mating with Pelosi and the GOP Grandees. With Boehner you don’t have to rely on stimulus.

  18. PrairieRose

    Well, my representative voted “no” on both the TPA and TPP, so I sent her an “attagirl” e-mail and told her to Stand Firm.

    I find the Constitutionality arguments to be fascinating, particularly since our President is a Constitutional law scholar. He should and does know better and he Does Not Care. I can never forgive him for that.

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