Sunday, April 19, 2015

In other words he's a liar and so is she

Here are a couple of videos concerning the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.  This week, Congress is poised to grant an eventual agreement "fast-track" authority, meaning they will essentially concede their prerogative to amend the details of a deal the President has largely negotiated in secret.

If that sounds shady to you, it's because it is. Here's a cute short video of Robert Reich drawing cartoons to sum up the troubling aspects of the TPP.

And here is a much more in-depth discussion from a few years ago with Bill Moyers, Dean Baker, and Yves Smith.

That's a must-watch video for a lot of reasons, not the least of them being the part where Moyers pronounces the name of Smith's site, "Nekkid Capitialism."   One especially crucial point concerns President Obama's seeming 180 degree reversal from the skepticism of international "free trade" agreements like TPP and NAFTA he expressed during the 2008 campaign.  Here's how that goes.

BILL MOYERS: What do you suppose is the influence on President Obama that caused him to reverse course on NAFTA and not fulfill what was a campaign pledge?

DEAN BAKER: Well, I think it's the nature of politics in the United States. I mean, it's not a secret. You know, you have very powerful politically, economically-- people who, you know, are pushing for this. And you know, we saw this with Wall Street, you know, when President Obama first came into office. You know, at that point, you know, Wall Street is on its back, meaning the financial industry.

And basically President Obama had it in his ability to break up the big banks, totally restructure finance, he decided not to go that route. And his top advisors, well Robert Rubin, played an enormous role, you know, as the top executive at Citigroup and formerly Goldman Sachs.

He was not going to go that route because these are the people he was listening to. And I think that's continued to be the pattern throughout his administration, that's he's listening to people with a corporate interest, he was just talking about there. Those are the people who are steering the policy.

YVES SMITH: I mean, I'd go a little bit further than Dean on that. In that when you look at Obama's record of his campaign promises versus what he's actually done, there's sort of a normal, acceptable level of political lying, and Obama has gone way past what is historically the normal in terms of, you know, politician fudging and then doing something else when they've been in office. This is just another example.

BILL MOYERS: Do you buy Dean's argument that it is the power of Wall Street? That it is--

YVES SMITH: I think Obama's fundamentally a very conservative person. The idea that he ran as the anti-Bush because the country was desperate for somebody other than Bush. So he sold what would sell. But he's liberal on social issues, but economically, he's not very different than the Republicans.
Also not very different from the Republicans (perhaps even less different than Obama) on crucial economic issues is presumed 2016 Democratic Party Presidential annointee Hillary Clinton.  Amazingly, the serious political press continues to treat the known quantity Hillary as though she has yet to reveal a position on TPP.
As she launches a 2016 presidential campaign in which she seems to be interested in grabbing the banner of economic populism—going so far as to complain in her announcement video about how “the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top”—Clinton can and should stake out a clear position in opposition to granting President Obama Trade Promotion Authority to negotiate a sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Despite overwhelming opposition from labor, farm, environmental, and social-justice groups, Congress is preparing to consider whether to provide Obama with the “fast track” authority he seeks to construct a “free trade” deal linking the North American and Asian nations of the Pacific Rim. Imagine the North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids and you get a sense of what is at stake. Yet, so far, Clinton’s office has offered only a statement about how she is “watching closely” as the debate evolves and a suggestion that she wants “greater prosperity and security for American families, not trade for trade’s sake.”

That’s not a clear commitment one way or the other on fast track or the TPP. And the coming congressional debate demands clear commitments not just from members of the House and Senate but from those who seek the presidency.
And that article comes to us from the serious liberal press where even there we find credulous writers asking a known corporate shill to tell them another pretty lie.  As long as we're happy with that, our politics is going to remain essentially meaningless.

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