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Lambert here: Note how DwT highlights the importance of TPP to Democratic outsiders, as I suppose we might call them.
By Down with Tyranny, originally published at that blog.
Steve Israel, de facto head of the DCCC (and the most outspoken member of their recruitment committee) and with a new title Pelosi invented for him, Chair, Policy and Communications, Israel’s war against progressives is multi-faceted. Although Pelosi, when giving him his new job, said that he “has consistently proved the depth of his wisdom and the strength of his strategic vision in making our case to the American people,” she overlooked the fact that under his catastrophic chairmanship, the DCCC– largely because of him and only him– managed to lose a net of 8 seats in a year when Obama won the country and a much smarter DSCC chairman just about swept the field and won tough races in Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Israel’s incompetence and /or lame strategy cost the Democrats CA-10 (Denham), CA-21 (Valadao), CA-25 (McKeon), CO-06 (Coffman), FL-10 (Webster), IL-13 (Davis), MI-01 (Benishek), MI-06 (Upton), MI-11 (Bentivolio), MN-02 (Kline), MN-06 (Bachmann), NV-03 (Heck), NJ02 (LoBiondo), NJ-03 (Runyan), NJ-05 (Garrett), NY-11 (Grimm), NY-19 (Gibson), NY-22 (Hanna), NY-23 (Reed), NY-27 (Collins), NC-08 (Hudson), NC-11 (Meadows), NC-13 (Holding), OH-06 (Johnson), OH-16 (Renacci), PA-06 (Gerlach), PA-07 (Meehan), PA-08 (Fitzpatrick), PA-12 (Rothfus), PA-15 (Dent), TN-04 (DesJarlais), VA-02 (Rigell), WI-07 (Duffy) and WI-08 (Ribble). [bolded districts were won by Obama as Israel’s depth of wisdom and strength of his strategic vision were leading the Democrats to another defeat.]
In 2014 Israel led the DCCC to an even more disastrous year by following his same lame playbook. He lost a net of 13 seats, primarily conservaDems who he had counseled to vote with the GOP at every opportunity, like Ron Barber (Blue Dog-AZ), Joe Garcia (New Dem-FL), John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA), Brad Schneider (New Dem-IL), Dan Maffei (New Dem-NY), Pete Gallego (Blue Dog-TX), Nick Rahall (Blue Dog-WV). 3 other right-wing Democrats– Bill Owens (New Dem-NY), Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC) and Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT)– knew they would be defeated and retired, their seats all going to Republicans. Israel’s only victories were for right-wing Democrats Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL), Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE) and Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA), Aguilar the only one likely to retain his seat in 2016.
So yesterday Chairman Strategic Vision lashed into progressives again in an interview with Alex Brown for the National Journal, denouncing them for fratricide for daring to side with working people against the corporate TPP. Neglecting to mention that on June 12 a preliminary TPP vote narrowly passed the House (219-211, only 28 wretched excuses for Democrats voting in favor, Israel railed against Democratic allies, saying “We have to stop the fratricide. It’s hard enough to go up against Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers. Our members shouldn’t have to go up against Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers– and [members’] friends.”
The “friends” Israel referred to are the labor and progressive groups that have gone after the 28 Democrats in the House and 13 in the Senate who voted to pass Trade Promotion Authority in June. That measure limits Congress to an up-or-down vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade deal that will land on Capitol Hill early next year. TPP has been a key priority of the Obama administration, but is opposed by most Democrats.
The AFL-CIO has been among the most vocal opponents of the deal, running ads against Democratic supporters like Rep. Ami Bera and holding protests in the districts of others. The group also cut off campaign funding for Democrats during the TPA fight, a move ostensibly aimed at focusing resources on the trade battle but one that was perceived as an implicit threat to would-be supporters.
Meanwhile, progressive groups like Democracy for America have tried to line up primary challengers to pro-trade Democrats. “We will not lift a finger or raise a penny to protect you when you’re attacked in 2016, we will encourage our progressive allies to join us in leaving you to rot, and we will actively search for opportunities to primary you with a real Democrat,” the group’s chair, Jim Dean, said in a statement following the vote.
…“It’s absolutely absurd to ask anyone who cares about income inequality… to ignore a very clear betrayal like this vote for fast-track authority,” said Democracy for America’s Neil Sroka. “They’re living in a fantasyland if they think organizations like ours are just going to ignore these votes.”
Sroka added that electoral victories are hollow if they only empower Democrats who vote with the other party. “Democrats would be best served by voting like Democrats and actually standing up and fighting for working families,” he said. His group will be urging allies not to give to the DCCC or any other organizations that may end up funding trade supporters.
DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan was careful not to call out any Democratic allies, and he said outside groups are free to use their resources as they please. But he did remind labor that Democrats have been their strongest allies on a number of political issues. “I’d encourage our friends in labor that, as we look for partnerships down the road and we advocate to make sure that people get a fair wage for a hard day’s work… those are issues that as Democrats we share with labor,” he said.
That sentiment isn’t new. In June, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said he had “urged our friends in labor to have respect for the decisions of members.” He listed off issues like collective bargaining and the minimum wage where Democrats have worked to boost labor’s goals.
…Added Sroka: “If Democrats fail to retake the House, they need to seriously look at [trade] as one of the reasons they failed to do it… If Ami Bera is defeated, it’s not because progressives didn’t stand up and defend Ami Bera. It’s because Ami Bera took a vote that makes it impossible for anyone who cares for working families in this country to support him.”
Notably, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who heads the Democratic National Committee and voted for TPA, said she has heard nothing about such a backlash– an issue on which every other member of the House seems to have an opinion. She said she met recently with labor leaders, including the AFL-CIO, without it coming up. “I’ve honestly not heard any threat whatsoever to any Democrat related to the trade deal,” she said. “I have a hard time commenting on something that I haven’t heard.”
Still, many of the other members in her caucus say the focus should be on winning the House– not a single trade vote. “I have committed to making sure we win back the majority, and that starts with returning incumbent Democrats in swing districts—including those that I sometimes disagree with,” Kildee said. “Obviously, I think this is important to labor, and I think they should take a strong position. … But I think we should focus on the long-term battle as well as the short-term battle.”
Wasserman Schultz, a congenital liar, is very much aware that labor is helping recruit a strong Democratic candidate to run against her in a primary next year, presumably Tim Canova, a professor of law and public finance at Nova Southeastern University.
A Sanders supporter, Canova has been critical of Wasserman Schultz’s performance as chair of the DNC, including her role in limiting the presidential debates. “It’s bad for Democrats and bad for the country, but she’s apparently decided that it’s good for her own career to hitch her wagon to Hillary Clinton– but it’s a wagon filled with a lot of baggage and broken promises to American workers.
“People are just tired of being sold out by calculating and triangulating politicians. Wasserman Schultz has become the ultimate machine politician. While she stakes out liberal positions on culture war issues, when it comes to economic and social issues, she’s too often with the corporate elites. On too many crucial issues– from fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the war on drugs and medical marijuana and mass incarceration, to her support for budget sequestrations and austerity– Wasserman Schultz votes down the line with big corporate interests and cartels: Wall Street banks and hedge funds, Big Pharma, the private health insurers, private prisons, Monsanto, it goes on and on. It’s easy to say you’re for doing something about climate change and the environment, for pay equity, raising the minimum wage, or getting money out of politics, but it’s mostly just talk when you’re taking so much corporate money at the same time. That’s why the TPP is so insidious. It will shift the costs of environmental protection, health and safety and labor standards from corporate wrongdoers and wealthy investors to the taxpayers who have been taking it on the chin for so long. In many ways, Wasserman Schultz no longer has a choice. She’s become an establishment machine politician who has to turn her back on taxpayers, working folks, students and the elderly poor, unfortunately it’s all to line the pockets of the same corporate interests that are funding her campaigns. In today’s politics, the worst have no convictions, which may explain all their flip-flops on big issues, from Hillary Clinton on Keystone Pipeline to Wasserman Schultz’s indecision on the agreement with Iran. After playing Hamlet for weeks and blocking a DNC resolution, she finally came around to support the Iran agreement, but only when it became pretty clear she would have lost her post as DNC chair, a message apparently delivered in person by vice president Biden. It must be exhausting to have to constantly answer to wealthy campaign donors and corporate lobbyists when making these decisions.”
As of now, there is still no primary challenger for Steve Israel… but we haven’t given up looking. As soon as one does, he or she will be on this page, along with other progressive candidates.