Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sanders fails to have Democratic Platform directly oppose Trans-Pacific Partnership

Bernie Sanders supporters lost a fight to introduce language into the Democratic Platform that would directly oppose the giant Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

The TPP is strongly supported by the Obama administration and business groups but opposed by Sanders supporters and many prominent people including the Nobel Prize winner in Economics Joseph Stiglitz and Elizabeth Warren. Hillary Clinton was originally in favor of the deal but now opposes it. Yet her supporters were instrumental in ensuring that language specifically against the TPP did not make it into the platform.
The platform committee came up with a compromise motion that was critical of "trade agreements that do not support good American jobs." The compromise was reached by labor groups supporting Clinton. The compromise motion was passed by a vote of 116 to 64. Clinton campaign director Maya Harris said:"We are proud to stand with our friends in organized labor in passing a strong amendment to the Democratic platform on all trade deals, including the TPP." The labor leaders did not mention that an anti-TPP vote would embarrass Obama, a strong supporter of the TPP but said the compromise language would do plenty to damage Republican efforts to run on trade. Quite the opposite, the compromise language which does not explicitly condemn the TPP, allows Trump to correctly call.the Democrats complete hypocrites who are not even willing to condemn what they say they do not support. Trump can say that the move shows that Clinton and her supporters do not really oppose the TPP but want to appear to do so in order to get votes. For once, Trump appears to be correct.
In a classic example of goofy spin-doctoring American Federation of Teachers President, Randi Weingartien, said: "We take what Trump has used as a sound bite, and we turn it into a standard." In order that Weingarten not be alone in hypocritical spinning, Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County,. and Municipal employees, which sponsored the compromise language said: "The trade union movement does not take a back seat to anybody regarding its opposition to bad trade deals." Well surely anyone who is in the front seat must understand that if you oppose the TPP as you do you must be willing to assert that you are, otherwise you will be in the back seat compared to someone like Trump or Sanders, Warren, or Stiglitz who come out and directly oppose it. The trade union leaders responsible for this nonsense congratulated themselves on the motion evading any direct repudiation of the TPP in a joint statement: "Our bold statement in support of fair trade standards for working people passed overwhelmingly, by a count of 117 to 64.”
The Sanders' campaign had generated more than 800,000 anti-TPP signatures but it made no difference. The Sanders forces tried to amend the compromise resolution simply by adding "and thats why we oppose the TPP." After all Clinton herself claims to oppose the TPP. Why can't her platform say it? According to the Washington Post, 90 delegates were supportive of Clinton 72 supported Sanders, and 25 were uncommitted. Sanders' supporters thought that enough of the uncommitted would see the merits of opposing the TPP to pass the amendment.
Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP introduced the brief amendment, arguing that the party would give away an electoral advantage if it were too slippery on trade. It would create an opening for Donald Trump as a Republican who could campaign for the first time on a bad trade deal. Jealous said: "The majority of Democrats, like the majority of Americans, are against the TPP, Hillary is against the TPP. Bernie is against the TPP. Let’s not be bureaucrats — let’s be leaders." Jealous' amendment garnered just 74 votes. The press always goes on about the failings of Trump, will they similarly rail against the Democratic Party and Clinton who can't bring themselves to put a plank in the party platform that says what they claim, opposition to the TPP.
Jim Hightower, Sanders delegate from Texas moved that there not be any TPP vote in Congress. it was defeated with 71 for and 104 against. Immediately, there was active spinning of what had just happened. Maya Harris, senior policy adviser to the Clinton campaign said that Clinton "is not interested in tinkering around with the margins of the TPP and that the TPP fails the test now laid out in the platform." Clinton does not need to tinker around the margins she just has to come out and oppose the TPP.. No wonder people get fed up with a political establishment that ignores the obvious and tries to manipulate public opinion in a completely hypocritical way and with nonsensical spinning of what happens.
The nonsensical spin was evident too on the Sanders' side, a sign of what the Sanders campaign may be all about. Warren Gunnels, Sanders' policy director said:"The good news is that virtually everyone who spoke during the debate on trade made it clear that they opposed this unfettered free trade agreement.Sen. Sanders, Sec. Clinton and the overwhelming majority of Democrats agree: The TPP should not come up for a vote after the election. If Democrats are going to prevail in November we must make clear to the American people that we stand firmly against the TPP. We will continue fighting to protect American jobs and to ensure Congress does not pass this disastrous trade agreement."The bad news is that Clinton refused to have the Democratic Party clearly say that it opposes the TPP and has left a clear opening for Trump to criticize such rank hypocrisy. As Sanders delegate Robert Kraig put it: "We've had no speech here in favor of TPP, but we can't bring ourselves to say we oppose TPP."
Sanders supporters are expected to bring the issue up for a vote again at the Democratic Convention to be held in Philadelphia July 25th to 28th.


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