Activist Monday: A Tale of Two Democrats
Posted May 11, 2015on:
Good morning, all! I hope you enjoyed your weekend. Bernie Sanders, the newest “Democratic” candidate for President, sure did, as he made the case for his candidacy on “Face the Nation.”
During an interview on Face the Nation, CBS host Bob Schieffer asked Sanders if he really thought he could defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
“The answer is yes,” Sanders replied. “Because there is massive dissatisfaction in this country today with corporate establishment and the greed of corporate America, and the incredibly unequal distribution of wealth and income which currently exists.”
“As a result of this disastrous Supreme Court Citizens United decisions, clearly, the billionaires — Koch brothers and others — are owning the political process,” the Vermont senator explained. “They will determine the political process.”
Sanders pointed out that if Americans put him the White House, this could be the last election controlled by the billionaire class.
“If elected president, I will have a litmus test in terms of my nominee to be a Supreme Court justice,” he remarked. “And that nominee will say that we are going to overturn this disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United. Because that decision is undermining American democracy. I do not believe that billionaires should be able to buy politicians.”
I have to say, I could not agree with him more. I am definitely enjoying Bernie’s candidacy so far, although I don’t like the implication that the billionaires are buying Hillary. If they could buy Hillary, they wouldn’t have been attacking her for the past 20 years, trying to keep her from influencing American and world politics. They’d be backing her, the way they backed Obama…and her press would reflect it.
And speaking of Obama and billionaires…he was out this Friday at Nike, pushing the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, a “free trade” agreement that has liberal Democrats and the President at odds. (For the record, Bernie Sanders is against it.)
For Obama, the trade dependent Pacific Northwest is a natural place to make his case for trade negotiating authority and to promote a 12-nation Trans-Pacific trade agreement. Congress is debating whether to give Obama so-called fast-track authority to complete that and other trade deals. Obama’s toughest sell is with his own Democratic allies, who fear the loss of American jobs and weakened financial and environmental rules.
Nike, with its massive outsourcing of manufacturing, provides Obama with an opportunity to talk about labor standards he seeks to enforce with trade partners, particularly Vietnam where the U.S. concedes worker rights protections fall short of international standards. Of the 11 countries the U.S. is negotiating with in the Trans-Pacific talks, Nike has contract factories in seven of them.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the stop at Nike will “illustrate how a responsible trade agreement that includes enforceable labor and environmental standards would strongly benefit middle-class families and the American economy.”
Oh really? Let’s see what The Krug says about this.
Not to keep you in suspense, I’m thumbs down. I don’t think the proposal is likely to be the terrible, worker-destroying pact some progressives assert, but it doesn’t look like a good thing either for the world or for the United States, and you have to wonder why the Obama administration, in particular, would consider devoting any political capital to getting this through.
The fact is that at this point trade is fairly free (slide 4), and estimates of the cost of protectionism from standard models are quite small (slide 5). Trade restrictions just aren’t a major drag on the world economy these days, so the gains from liberalization must be small.
So why do some parties want this deal so much? Because as with many “trade” deals in recent years, the intellectual property aspects are more important than the trade aspects. Leaked documents suggest that the US is trying to get radically enhanced protection for patents and copyrights; this is largely about Hollywood and pharma rather than conventional exporters. What do we think about that (slide 7)?
Well, we should never forget that in a direct sense, protecting intellectual property means creating a monopoly – letting the holders of a patent or copyright charge a price for something (the use of knowledge) that has a zero social marginal cost. In that direct sense this introduces a distortion that makes the world a bit poorer.
Yeah, I’m with Paul. I think that Obama is still doing the bidding of his Big Pharma friends with this bullsh*t. Just as he did with Obamacare, he is providing an already wealthy industry with a boost it doesn’t need, while doing little to nothing for the poor and middle-class.
So here we are, Widdershins. Is it the best of times, or the worst of times, when the Democratic Party is represented by two such different politicians? And Hillary Clinton is somewhere in the middle…or is she?
This is an open thread.
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