Thursday, June 14, 2007

Update on Secret Free Trade Deal

I first posted something on this topic back in May. I have not been posting as consistently as I would like and wanted to do a follow up on this topic sooner. However, I have several drafts on different topics that I have not gotten around to finishing either because of time constraints or because there are just some days when it is necessary for the sake of my mental health to focus on other things besides shit like this and the latest daily outrages. However, here is a post that I started on a couple of weeks ago followed by some recent news:

Basically, the latest trade deal means more of the same NAFTA-like trade policies. The corporate controlled Democratic leadership is, as usual, teaming up with Repbulicans to screw workers. However, there still seems to be some significant opposition from most rank and file Democrats in congress. As of today, here are some of the latest updates via David Sirota, posted on May 31, regarding the secret free trade deal:

  • Three weeks after a group of senior Democrats announced a secret free trade deal with top Bush administration officials, Democratic K Street lobbyists are now telling reporters they are making passage of the deal their top priority. Many - if not most - of these lobbyists are former lawmakers and Capitol Hill staff using their ties to Congress to twist arms.

  • Nonetheless, despite the K Street campaign, business interests say they are increasingly worried that they will not have the votes in Congress to pass the secret deal, whose legislative text remains secret.

  • According to the National Jounral, Democratic corprate lobbyist Scott Parven stated, “We need to provide a substantive counterpoint to activists on the left who are banging members over the head saying this is a terrible deal.” Another Democratic business lobbyist added, “The reality is that Democrats are going to be split on trade issues, so the business community’s main agenda is going to be to shore up virtually unanimous support among Republicans in the House and work with Rangel and Levin and the leadership to get 70 to 100 Democrats.”

  • Rank and file Democrats, led by Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), are planning to push a Democratic caucus resolution barring the Speaker of the House from bringing the Bush administration’s request for reauthorization of fast track to the House floor for a vote unless a majority of Democrats approve. When asked about this resolution this week, Inside U.S. Trade reports that Pelosi balked, indicating she will ignore the resolution.

  • Inside U.S. Trade reports that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel expects he will require votes from the vast majority of Republicans in order to pass the secret deal - over the objections of most Democrats. Rangel is still declining to give an estimate of how many Democrats would support the secret deal “except to signal he did not expect a majority of the [Democratic] caucus.” Observers “say the most Democratic votes Peru and Panama will attract is roughly 70″ - or less than a third of all Democrats in Congress.

Also from Sirota here is the latest on the free trade deal as of last Friday, June 8th:

Can the Clinton machine deliver another NAFTA? That is the question in Washington on trade these days, as dynamics similar to the NAFTA debate begins to take shape. The Colombian government, which has been tied to paramilitary gangs that execute union organizers, is spending lavishly to enlist top Clinton administration officials - including Hillary Clinton’s top campaign strategist and President Clinton himself - to pressure Democrats on Capitol Hill to pass the Colombian Free Trade Agreement - an agreement that is part of the bigger secret deal. This campaign is being backed up by a wide array of businesses such as Wal-Mart and Citigroup. To date, the legislative language of the secret trade deal has still not been released - but that hasn’t stopped the furious efforts to build a coalition of Clinton administration officials-turned-lobbyists, a handful of top Democrats in Congress and corporate interests to ram the secret deal through Congress. Here is today’s report.

K STREET TARGETS SPECIFIC DEM GROUPS IN PUSH FOR SECRET DEAL: The Hill Newspaper reports that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who is under a cloud of scandal in connection to right-wing paramilitary gangs and ant-union violence, “will lobby members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition.” He will also meet with Rangel, Ways and Means trade subcommittee Chairman Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and GOP Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.). His lobbying efforts are being backed up by, among others, Caterpillar, Citigroup and Wal-Mart. “The three companies chair the Latin American Trade Coalition, which will brief House staff Thursday on all three Latin American trade deals,” the Hill reports. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also preparing a campaign to push all three deals forward.”

CHI TRIB - FRESHMEN DEMS “TEAR AT PARTY UNITY ON TRADE”: The Chicago Tribune reports that “first-term Democrats are leading a vocal charge against their own leadership over several proposed international trade deals.” Most Democrats “remain largely skeptical” of the proposed South Korea and Colombia trade pacts, which were part of the secret deal. But “party leaders — including Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the caucus chairman, who helped shepherd NAFTA to approval when he worked for Clinton — announced last month they would move ahead.” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said of the secret deal: “It’s not a good step forward, it’s good lip service.”

There is more if you click on the link. Unfortunately, still no indications from Pelosi that she or other Dem leaders are willing to work with the Democratic opposition to the deal.

Quote of the Day~The Real World is Like Your Worst Junior High Memory

"You’ve been told during your high school years and your college years that you are now about to enter the real world, and you’ve been wondering what it’s like. Let me tell you that the real world is not college. The real world is not high school. The real world, it turns out, is much more like junior high. You are going to encounter, for the rest of your life, the same petty jealousies, the same irrational juvenile behavior, the same uncertainty that you encountered during your adolescent years. That is your burden. We all share it with you. We wish you well."
---Tom Brokaw at Skidmore College

He must be speaking from experience; the mainstream media is the perfect example of this. Even more perfect than the Bush Administration and the Republican Party because they have left Junior High for the Twighlight Zone or, in many cases, a long journey through the nation's legal system followed, in a few cases, by prison.