Monday, November 17, 2014

A Challenge For Clinton And Her Party

Slate's Jamelle Bouie attributes much- probably too much- of the continuing erosion of support for the Democratic Party among working class whites to race.  But he recognizes

for a new rhetoric of populism to work—or at least, attract the winnable whites identified by Teixeira and Halpin—it needs to come with a commitment to universal policies that working-class whites like and support. (It’s no coincidence that the most liberal working-class whites belong to private and public sector unions.)

But the United States doesn’t have a political party to support that kind of social democracy. Instead, it has the Democratic Party, a collection of disparate interests which—at its best—is nervous about economic liberalism and hesitant to push anything outside the mainstream. And worse, it has a presidential frontrunner who—more than anyone else—is connected to the kinds of elites and the kinds of policies that would push the party away from the muscular liberalism it needs.

One of these ways has been the frontrunner's support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (videos below, from Truthloader; "MSNBC; and the The Young Turks; link to one from Acronym TV, here).  Earlier this year, reporter Jaime Fuller wrote

Hillary Clinton could also use a Trans-Pacific Partnership win. As secretary of state, building relationships with countries in Asia were among her top priorities. In October 2011, she wrote an essay in Foreign Policy titled, "America's Pacific Century." It provided an in-depth walkthrough of the Obama administration's planned pivot.

That was not mere payback to the president who has done more than anyone to promote her as his successor. Obama appointed Clinton Secretary of State, giving her an opportunity to build foreign policy gravitas, which she accomplished while- and largely by- constantly jetting around the globe. As Clinton was leaving the Administration and Obama  sat by her on "60 Minutes" and and virtually endorsed her for 2016, the President commented "I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretary of states we've had. It has been a great collaboration over the last four years. I'm going to miss her. Wish she was sticking around. But she has logged in so many miles...."

Though Fuller believes completion, and passage, of the TPP would aid a presidential run by the former Senator, Politico's Josh Gerstein suggests

After years of populist rhetoric against banks and Wall Street, repeated calls for raising the minimum wage and withering campaign-trail criticism of corporate America for shipping jobs overseas and dodging taxes, President Barack Obama could leave office with a foreign policy legacy whose most concrete achievement is a huge free trade deal with Pacific Rim countries.

On a trip through Asia and Australia over the past week, Obama and his aides have been pushing hard to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, pressing foreign leaders from 11 countries to hash out their differences and get the pact done in the coming months....

But his history of bashing prior trade pacts also sets him up for renewed trouble with a political base frustrated with him after heavy election losses and a faltering agenda. Their ire could also hit presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who economic policies are already under attack from liberals and whose tenure at the State Department coincided with the TPP negotiations.

U.S. officials said they were surprised at how forcefully Obama pressed the free-trade message both in public and private during summit meetings in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday. And his sustained focus on the issue was refreshing after numerous other international meetings have been sidetracked by various crises, the American officials said.

In mid-2012, a press release issued by Citizens Trade Campaign explained

A leaked draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) investment chapter has been published online by Citizens Trade Campaign, the same coalition that first published TPP proposals from the United States on intellectual property,regulatory coherence and drug formularies in late 2011.  Draft texts are said to exist for some 26 separate chapters, none of which have ever been officially released by trade negotiators for public review.

“Americans deserve the right to know what U.S. negotiators are proposing in our names,” said Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign.  “In the absence of transparency on the part of our government, we have a responsibility to share what information we receive about the TPP with the public.”

The new texts reveal that TPP negotiators are considering a dispute resolution process that would grant transnational corporations special authority to challenge countries’ laws, regulations and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems.

“We are just beginning to analyze the new texts now, but they clearly contain proposals designed to give transnational corporations special rights that go far beyond those possessed by domestic businesses and American citizens,” said Stamoulis.  “A proposal that could have such broad effects on environmental, consumer safety and other public interest regulations deserves public scrutiny and thorough public debate.  It shouldn’t be crafted behind closed doors.”

The continuing secrecy of the negotiations twenty-nine months later augments the realistic fear that jobs in the USA will be lost and the wage scale will decline. Support by the GOP for eliminating American jobs- euphemistically labeled "free trade" deals- gives the Democratic Party (and presumptive presidential nominee HRC) the opportunity to win back some of those working-class voters Democrats periodically insist they want.  . Ultimately, the Party will have to stand up and say "no" to the President who has lost track of most of what it means to be a Democrat. Or as Senator Elizabeth Warren earlier this year put it

Real people, people whose jobs are at stake, small-business owners who don’t want to compete with overseas companies that dump their waste in rivers and hire workers for a dollar a day—those people, people without an army of lobbyists—they would be opposed. I believe if people across this country would be opposed to a particular trade agreement, then maybe that trade agreement should not happen.”

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