During a July 8 press conference in the Rose Garden just after the disastrous June jobs numbers were made public, our President went on the Jobs Offensive. Among other things he said…worst recession…8 million jobs lost…ups and downs…control the deficits for stability..yada…yada…mumble…then:
“Today, Congress can advance trade agreements that will help businesses sell more American-made goods and services to Asia and South America, supporting thousands of jobs here at home. That could be done right now.”
Remember that Candidate Obama declared he would re-write NAFTA to more fair standards, then got busted winking to Canada that he didn’t really mean it; ouch. He did survive the mini-scandal, but you probably noticed that, didn’t you? ;o) And he said these three agreements would happen ‘over his dead body’. But that was then, and this is now…tra la la…we should put that phrase to music, eh?
Beltway theatrics reporting is calling the Red/Blue ‘Showdown’ a matter of a few million bucks’ worth of Trade Adjustment Assistance included in KORUS, refunding an old program for training workers who have been downsized because of the sterling trade deals for jobs in…for jobs in…hamburger-flipping at McDogfood.
Now Mr. Libertarian Dylan Ratigan has teamed up with Huffpo (yeah; I know) to throw light on the trade deals with Korea, Panama and Colombia that have been languishing since 2006 under Bush, and never ratified by Congress once Democrats regained the balance of power. What they have found, in a word, is that they suck. They suck for American workers, for the workers in the three nations, for the trade balance, and they suck because they will create even more opacity and eventual corruption, indemnify American corporations from harm caused by poor working conditions, and will prevent foreign workers from bargaining for higher wages.
But now President Obama is fast-tracking the three deals, and has apparently combined them into one package at the urging of Congressional Republicans. Looks like for The Money Party , the banks, and the multinationals, the deals don’t suck.
In the case of Panama, Wikileaks from 2006 revealed memos that amply demonstrated that the US is fully aware that Panamanian laws concerning finance are even more secretive than Switzerland’s, and will allow off-shored money to be even more rigorously defended from prying eyes and protected from legal judgments. Ratigan’s piece here is damning to the Powers pushing the deal: it’s all about financial secrecy, not ‘trade’.
“The key question we have to face as a country is how we want to govern ourselves. From World War II until NAFTA, our trading policies were based on geopolitical needs and what would increase prosperity for America. Since NAFTA, however, the mantra of free trade has been warped to generate rights for international capital and nothing else. The agreements Congress and the President are pushing continue this unfortunate trend. What unfettered capital wants is to avoid taxes, regulations, or any state power whatsoever. And that’s what this Panama deal is really about.”
In Colombia, over 3,000 union members have been murdered over the past twenty-five years; the Obama administration likes to say that it has negotiated a deal in which Colombia promises there will be no more murders at the urging of the AFL-CIO. Please allow me to believe that is a crock of alligator crap. Also, Colombian citizens have already voted in the past that their government not make the deal, which in the past might have been a deal-breaker for many Dems.
Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Trade Watch adds this on KORUS:
“Finally, we get to South Korea. This deal is a weird one, because there are apparently provisions in there that allow the use of North Korean labor to make products and ship them our way, and then use the hard currency generated to help their nuclear program.”
But here’s today’s Ratigan segment on ‘Trading Our Future?’. The Ross Perot cameo is a treat for your ears. Or not. ;o) Wallach and Hindery have the facts about what the deals will cost us.
Call your members of Congress! Call ‘Bullsh*t on these deals!’ I haven’t found the schedule, but it seems the vote is imminent.