Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Obama Talks about Inequality While Pushing Dems to Back Corporate Wish List TPP

The New York Times reported earlier today that Obama's State of the Union address will highlight proposals to reduce income inequality, such as his tuition-free community college proposal and his redistributive tax proposal. Jared Bernstein, Joe Biden's former economics adviser, said, "At some level, he’s saying, ‘O.K., welcome to the inequality debate...What you got?’"

However, while Obama is proposing initiatives that can help the middle-class but will go nowhere, he's also going to keep pushing a proposal that will hurt the middle-class and will likely pass: fast-track authority for trade deals, specifically the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The TPP and its Atlantic cousin TTIP (the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) are certain to appear in tonight's State of the Union address, particularly as trade is one of the areas in which Obama plans to work with Republicans.

Trade deals like the TPP, written by and for large corporations, cost jobs and depress wages. It also threatens climate and environmental protections, labor protections, financial regulations, food safety regulations, among numerous other policies designed in the public interest.

Paul Krugman, who tends to favor big trade deals, has become increasingly skeptical of the TPP. In his blog the other day, he highlighted the unnerving enthusiasm of the Chamber of Commerce for the TPP:
"When the US Chamber of Commerce makes a huge priority out of complicated deals, and offers an obviously false rationale, you should strongly suspect that there’s bad stuff hidden in the fine print."
However, Obama is planning an all-out push to get Democrats to back fast-track authority for the TPP, which would give Obama full negotiating power and prevent Congress from doing anything other than casting a final up-or-down vote.
A frustrated White House is planning to blitz congressional Democrats on trade in the weeks following Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

President Obama is tasking every member of his Cabinet to round up votes from Democrats for fast-track negotiating power, which would give Obama leverage to complete trade negotiations by preventing Congress from amending his agreements.
About 80 House Democrats have been targeted in the effort, and Cabinet members are divvying up those names based on their personal relationships with the members.
The rest of the House Democratic Caucus, which consists of about 100 members, are seen as likely “no” votes.
The Hill notes that 80 YES votes is optimistic. House Democrats opposed the United States Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act 158 to 31, the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act 123 to 66, and the United States-Korea Trade Agreement Implementation Act 130 to 59. 
53 sitting House Democrats voted for at least one of these three bills:

Xavier Becerra (CA-34)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
John Carney (DE-AL)
Kathy Castor (FL-14)
Jim Clyburn (SC-06)
Gerry Connolly (VA-11)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Joe Crowley (NY-14)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Susan Davis (CA-53)
Diana DeGette (CO-01)
Lloyd Doggett (TX-35)
Eliot Engel (NY-16)
Anna Eshoo (CA-18)
Sam Farr (CA-20)
Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
Jim Himes (CT-04)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15)
Steny Hoyer (MD-05)
Eddie Johnson (TX-30)
Ron Kind (WI-03)
Rick Larsen (WA-02)
John Larson (CT-01)
Sandy Levin (MI-09)
Nita Lowey (NY-17)
Carolyn Maloney (NY-12)
Doris Matsui (CA-06)
Jim McDermott (WA-07)
Gregory Meeks (NY-04)
Richard Neal (MA-01)
Nancy Pelosi (CA-12)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Jared Polis (CO-02)
David Price (NC-04)
Mike Quigley (IL-05)
Charlie Rangel (NY-13)
Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
Loretta Sanchez (CA-46)
Adam Schiff (CA-28)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
Bobby Scott (VA-03)
David Scott (GA-13)
Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Albio Sires (NJ-08)
Adam Smith (WA-09)
Mike Thompson (CA-05)
Niki Tsongas (MA-03)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-08)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)
Tim Walz (MN-01)
Pete Welch (VT-AL)

Now, these votes were all cast in the 112th Congress. About one-third of the Democratic caucus has been elected since then. Your representatives should hear from you, regardless of whether they are on the list above, but if they are on the list, they should especially hear from you.

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