Tag: antagonize

If there’s anyone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to trade, it’s President Obama

After over six years of, outside of a few issues like Social Security and domestic spying where he’s sided with the far-right Republicans, largely relying on progressives as a base of support, President Barack Obama has launched a full-on War on Progressives by openly antagonizing opponents of proposed free-trade agreements, including the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that would destroy most of what little sovereignty America still has.

This is what President Obama said at an Organizing for Action (OFA) summit in our nation’s capital:

When people say this trade deal is bad for working families, they don’t know what they’re talking about…I take that personally. My entire presidency has been about helping working families.

If there’s anyone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to international trade, it’s President Obama and his corporate allies in both major parties in this country. In fact, the fact that the TPP and other free trade deals and policies

For many decades, tariffs and other trade protections made America great by building a strong economy and manufacturing sector that provided middle-class jobs and American-made goods that Americans could actually purchase. Now, because of NAFTA, CAFTA, Most Favored Nation status for China, and other agreements and laws that have loosened American trade policies, most goods sold in the United States are made in foreign countries

Over the last three and a half decades, we’ve seen the effects of current free-trade agreements and other free trade policies between the U.S. and foreign countries, and they’re almost entirely negative. For several very brief periods in the early 1980’s, the U.S. actually had a very small trade surplus. Since then, because of free-trade policies that have been pushed by every president from Ronald Reagan onward and a bipartisan corporate coalition in Congress, wages in this country have been driven downward, the manufacturing sector of our economy has been annihilated, our trade deficit with foreign nations has exploded, the vast majority of goods sold in this country are foreign-made, and the American economy has become an economy full of low-wage jobs. Here’s a graph showing how our nation’s trade deficit has exploded since 1980:

U.S. Balance of Trade 1980-2015 (Graph Courtesy of Trade Economics)

For someone who professes to be a constitutional scholar, President Obama clearly doesn’t understand that the TPP itself and the fast-track authority for it are both blatantly unconstitutional.

The TPP itself is in blatant violation of Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the structure of our nation’s court system. Article III, Section 1 reads as follows:

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

(emphasis mine)

While I’m not an attorney, I interpret Article III, Section 1 as allowing for the creation of a single Supreme Court of the United States and any number of federal courts that are below the single Supreme Court. Since the TPP would create the Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS), a de facto court system that is effectively above the U.S. Supreme Court, this means that the TPP is blatantly unconstitutional.

The fast-track authority for free trade agreements blatantly violates a different part of the Constitution, specifically, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, which reads as follows:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

(emphasis mine)

Again, I’m not an attorney, but I interpret Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 as requiring approval by two-thirds of U.S. Senators who are present for such a vote, for ratification of any treaty negotiated and signed by the President on behalf of the United States. However, since fast-track authority, among other things, allows for free trade agreements, which I consider to be a type of treaty, to be ratified by a simple majority of members of both houses of Congress who are present for votes on such agreements, fast-track is blatantly unconstitutional.

I know I’m going to say something controversial, but I’m willing to say it: President Obama and his corporate allies in both parties in Congress have a deep-seeded hatred of the concept of American economic sovereignty, and they are pushing to enact a corporate globalization agenda in order to drive down wages, pollute our environment, and destroy the American economy without any regard for the U.S. Constitution or the American people. While some international trade is necessary due to consumer demand, globalization and weak trade protections are destroying America and our economy, and we certainly don’t need more of the same.

For President Obama to effectively claim that the overwhelming majority of those who twice elected him President of the United States are stupid is absolutely disgusting and traitorous.

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Tell Congressman Ron Kind to denounce attacks on progressives by his fellow corporate Democrats

Several members of the New Democratic Coalition, a group of pro-greed and anti-middle class Democrats led by U.S. Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin, are attacking progressive members of Congress for opposing efforts by Republicans and corporate Democrats to repeal financial regulations, enacted by the Dodd-Frank bill, that are designed to protect American consumers from predatory banking institutions.

According to a report by POLITICO, at least three members of the New Democratic Coalition, U.S. Representatives Gerry Connolly of Virginia, John Carney of Delaware, and Jim Himes of Connecticut, openly attacked progressives for standing up against Wall Street greed:

Tension reached a boiling point during a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday over the party’s stance toward Wall Street banks, according to multiple sources at the meeting.

Liberal Massachusetts Rep. Mike Capuano incensed the moderates when he said if Democrats support rolling back Dodd-Frank regulations, “you might as well be a Republican.”

[…]

At the New Democrat meeting, (House Minority Whip Steny) Hoyer was on the receiving end of impassioned concerns by his moderate colleagues. Reps. Gerry Connolly (Va.), John Carney (Del.) and Jim Himes (Conn.) all voiced strong opinions, according to sources in the room.

The 40-member group expressed anger at the liberal faction for name calling and for dismissing their point of view outright. The lawmakers told Hoyer that any future Democratic majority would look more like them than the liberal faction of the caucus.

You can read more about the New Democratic Coalition’s War on Progressives from DailyKos’s own Kerry Eleveld here.

The New Democratic Coalition is not new (they’ve been in existence for nearly two decades as a Congressional Member Organization), and they’re certainly not progressive. They are a group of corporate Democrats who support a pro-Wall Street, pro-special interests, anti-worker, anti-consumer, and anti-middle class agenda that is nearly as bad as the Republicans’ far-right economic agenda. Most notably, they’re known for supporting deregulation of the banking industry to make it easier for the American economy to crash because of greed and speculation on Wall Street and put American consumers even more at the mercy of predatory banks than they currently are now. Furthermore, New Democratic Coalition members support free trade agreements, such as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that drive down wages, move American jobs overseas, and destroy what little of our country’s economic sovereignty remains.

Regarding the New Democratic Coalition’s claim that regaining Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress is only possible by supporting giveaways to Wall Street and other Big Business special interests, that claim is absolutely absurd. Future Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress would, more than likely, be built mostly, if not entirely, by progressive Democrats who champion lifting Americans out of poverty, ending corrupt special interest giveaways, restoring the American middle class, protecting and expanding the social safety net, restoring protections of the American economy, and protecting American consumers, and other progressive, pro-middle class ideals. The only thing that the New Democratic Coalition is doing by openly antagonizing progressives is dividing the party and making it virtually impossible for Democrats to win congressional majorities in its current state.

As I stated above, the Chairman of the New Democratic Coalition is Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconsin. While it’s not known if Kind himself was part of the attacks on progressives (although Kind did brag on tape about being a key part of the “global trading regime”, as he called it, to enact free trade agreements and ship American jobs overseas), I believe that it is Congressman Kind’s responsibility to denounce the divisive attacks on pro-consumer and pro-middle class progressives by members of the organization that he leads. You can sign an online petition to call for Congressman Kind to publicly denounce the New Democratic Coalition’s attacks on progressives here.