CTC reaction to apparent May 10 Dem leadership sellout

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CTC reaction to apparent May 10 Dem leadership sellout

Postby Jeff_W on Fri May 11, 2007 11:42 am

Reaction from Citizens Trade's Lori Wallach to the Pelosi/Rangel/Baucus/White House "Free Trade" deal announced on May 10.

Let me start by saying that I am angry and horrifically disappointed
about both the process and the substance of today's announcement of a
'deal' on trade between the Democrats and the White House. Instead
of finally being able to fight FOR a new U.S. approach on trade that we
could support, we now face a battle royal to kill the Bush Peru and
Panama NAFTA expansions that this deal facilitates coming to Congress
for a vote soon.

And, it's not just those deals that are at stake: this deal paves a
path towards moving the big-dollar, big-economic-damage Korea Free Trade
Agreement, granting President Bush new Fast Track authority and moving
the Colombia FTA * a trade deal with a right wing paramilitary-linked
government that has the world's highest rate of labor unionist
assassinations! Yup, the deal was NOT about 'living with' the Panama
and Peru deals in EXCHANGE for shutting DOWN Fast Track for Bush and the
Korea and Colombia deals.

"We now have a way forward on Panama, Peru, Colombia, South Korea and
even reauthorization of TPA. I want to thank Chairman Rangel, Ranking
Member McCrery, and Ambassador Schwab for their hard work in reaching
this breakthrough agreement, and look forward to continuing to work with
them to move these agreements and TPA reauthorization through Congress,"
said Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Wally Herger, (R-CA).

The avoidable tragedy of this situation: this deal includes real,
terrific progress on the labor and environmental standards issues. BUT,
if the Democrats could extract those extremely politicized changes from
the White House and GOP, why in the world did they NOT demand the full
deNAFTAization of the Peru and Panama deals so that most Democratic
Representatives and constituencies would not be forced into having to
oppose and kill the ensuring agreements??!!

The only shred of good news is that we can deliver on the American
public's expectations that the 2006 election meant no more Bush
job-killing trade deals, because this is a deal that a majority of
Democrats cannot support. And, after seeing their colleagues defeated on
the trade issue in 2006, there are many GOP who will be eager to oppose
these NAFTA expansions also.


And, why would it EVER be in the interest of Democrats to spend
political capital and take on enormous political liability to facilitate
passage of Bush trade agreements sought by an array of corporate
interests whose main political priority is to defeat Democrats and
regain a GOP majority? Help pass agreements opposed by a majority of the
Democrat's base, instead of pursuing Democratic priorities? And that
does not even get to the non-political damage extending this policy
would cause*

With polling systematically showing the American public wants NO MORE
STAYING THE COURSE on Bush's devastating trade policy, the political
damage that could be caused by this move is enormous.

After the 1993 NAFTA vote blurred the lines between Democrats and
Republican on trade, the Democrats lost the House as labor household
voting rates plummeted and working people in conservative swing
districts determined that both Parties would screw them on jobs and thus
voted on conservative social issues (abortion, guns, etc) and for the

And, that does not even get to the very pragmatic political crisis this
move causes: Before the next elections, the majority-making Democratic
freshmen must deliver on the campaign theme the vast majority
emphasized: HALTING the Bush Middle Class-killing trade agenda and
steering a new course. There were 25 paid ads beating up on GOP
incumbents for voting for NAFTA-style trade agreements! Not one
atic challenger who used this theme lost. Several who were advised
not to who ran in seats Democrats were expected to pick up lost their
races. All of the research shows that opposition to the war was
essential, but not sufficient. Many of the Democratic freshmen in
socially conservative districts used trade as THE key differentiator to
persuade voters to vote Democratic for their economic wellbeing instead
of voting for GOP pounding the God, guns and gays social issue themes.
Instead of showing that electing Democrats (and continuing to do so)
means change, this deal (and, heaven forbid, passage of more Bush NAFTA
deals) would put those majority-making freshmen in the conservative
districts in real political peril * and thus put the majority in

Have no doubt, the deal announced today does NOT represent the majority
position of the House Democrats, nor of labor or other core Democratic
base groups, nor of the American public. And, tragically, it is NOT the
new direction on trade we are all so eager to support.

The deal includes the 20% of stuff that needed to be ADDED in: good
labor and environmental standards. And, we can and should thank Ways and
Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Sandy Levin for that!

had to go for future trade agreements to meet the most minimal
do-no-harm test and thus allow most Democratic Members and
constituencies to actually support movement towards a NEW trade policy
rather than oppose the agreements. What's NOT 'fixed'?

- The ban on anti-offshoring policy and Buy America policy remains.

- The NAFTA Chapter 11-style foreign investor rights which both create
incentives for U.S. companies to move offshore and expose our most basic
environmental, health, zoning and other laws to attack remain.

- The Peru FTA provisions that will allow Citigroup to sue Peruvian
taxpayers if Peru tries to reverse its failed Social Security
privatization remain!! (And, Democrats should vote for THAT??!!)

- The threat to prevailing wage laws, recycled content and renewable
energy policy remain. (No kidding.)

-- The agriculture rules that will foreseeably result in the
displacement of millions of peasant farmers * increasing hunger,
social unrest, desperate migration and per Peruvian and Colombian
government reports increased drug cultivation, trade and violence

-- The food safety limits that require us to import meat not meeting
our safety standards remain (in the midst of the recent imported food
safety crisis.)

This NAFTA toxic waste is what had to be excised so that Speaker Pelosi
and Chairman Rangel's own Democratic base constituents and the
majority of their Democratic Members would not be forced to go on the
war path to kill these agreements.

The problem is not in the details of the legal language of agreed FTA
amendments * which is not released even now post-announcement. The
problem can be clearly ascertained by reviewing the summary documents
that have been made available: what needed to be dealt with to create a
NEW TRADE MODEL simply was not even on the table * despite endless,
intense efforts by various Democratic Members and labor and other

The only thing more upsetting than the contents of the deal * the
lost opportunity to really change our trade policy and now the need to
kill more damaging agreements - is the process by which it was
negotiated and announced.

The deal was announced in a no-advanced-notice news conference at 6 PM
buried late on the very day of the major Iraq war funding vote. The
event included a majority of players who represent the MINORITY view of
what American trade and globalization policy should be.
NAFTA-CAFTA-WTO-Fast Track loving Treasury Secretary Paulson, USTR
Schwab and Ways and Means GOP leader McCreary.

Also attending: the New Democratic Caucus (read: minority of House
Democrats who are eager to pass Bush trade agreements) chairs Tauscher,
Adam Smith, Artur Davis and Ron K
ind. Plus, a sprinkling of the
unrepentant CAFTA-15, like Gregory Meeks. And, a few Democratic Ways and
Means members who support this deal.

Totally and noticeably absent: any of the freshmen Democrats whose
political viability relies on getting trade right and any of the non-New
Democrat leaders of the House Democrats -- like the chairs of Labor,
Commerce, Judiciary, Foreign Affairs and other committees -- whose
business is these very issues and who have been steady opponents of the
Bush NAFTA model.

And, its obvious this line up was not an accident: you can't pull
together two Cabinet-level officials and that constellation of
Democratic and GOP Representatives and Senators with pre-planning.

And, that would have been upsetting enough, IF the event was not
chaired by Speaker Pelosi and featured Democratic Ways and Means Chair
Rangel and Finance Committee Chair Baucus and House Majority Leader
Hoyer. The very folks who should have guaranteed a process that ensured
any trade move represented the views of their Democratic Caucus
announcing a deal that facilitates the passage of Bush NAFTA-style
agreements the majority in their Caucus will oppose. (And, that the
majority of Democrats would oppose this deal is not only my opinion:
it's what Chairman Rangel TOLD reporters after the news conference!)

The process leading up to this announcement was also an OUTRAGE. There
has been a totally closed-door 'negotiation' which excluded almost
every Democratic House member and the Democratic base groups. No one saw
the proposal sent to the Administration before or after it was sent in
late March. The legal texts that are the 'deal' remain secret - if
they exist, which is not actually known - begging the question of why
this announcement on what may not be completed text had to be done just

In the last 36 hours the unions most interested and involved in the
trade debate had been consulted on details. Union leaders were told that
final decisions would await unions' input. Unbelievably, the
deal-celebrating news conference was announced * which, by the way,
was the first notice there was any deal to all House Democrats who had
not been invited to be part of the festivities -- by an email from
Speaker Pelosi's office -- at 4:30 today.

This was literally at the same time that AFL-CIO President Sweeney was
conducting a conference call with Presidents of the ten AFL-CIO
affiliate unions most involved in the trade debate to ascertain what
they wanted the AFL-CIO position to be regarding how to respond to the
proposal. You know a decision is a big deal when it is moved up to the
union president's level like that * and the whole point of the call
was for the AFL-CIO to be able, as requested by Chairman Rangel, to
assess the proposal and communicate back an opinion. What could Speaker
Pelosi and Chairman Rangel have been thinking to pre-empt what was
already a very last minute consultation with the Democrat's most
politically important base constituency by announcing * celebrating
* the deal about which they were simultaneously allegedly seeking

And, to make matter worse, it was not as if the Speaker's office and
Ways and Means leaders did not ALREADY know were most in labor were
heading on this: several union Presidents had ALREADY communicated
individually that they would oppose the deal * because it would harm
their members by extending the net-loss Bush trade policy! No union
signaled support. The most 'cautious' response was to reserve
judgment until actual agreement text could be reviewed*

UGH - what a fustrating mess!

So, bottomline: It's time to get busy * sadly not fighting FOR a
new U.S. trade policy, but by demonstrating that more of the same is NOT
acceptable. Yup, I also thought that point had been made* Guess we
will have to bring it home one more time!

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