For the US, ‘Free Trade’, and Trading Places – Warren for Obama?

‘Free trade’? Senator Warren? Wrong on her facts and analysis? Clearly an unintended invitation to scrutinise respective CVs, respective accomplishments? The real versus the ersatz?

In that aggressive and hasty pursuit of his legacy from approved ‘free trade’ deals (TTIP and TTP), along the Clinton Model, the US President committed another of those errors the less inexperienced know to avoid. Earlier this week the President, in defending his proposed trade deals would criticise, of all people, Elizabeth Warren.

From an organ of the US corporate MSM, CNN, we have, Obama: Warren is ‘wrong’ on trade. From which we look at key excerpts,

President Barack Obama is locking horns with one of his most prominent progressive critics on trade policy, calling out Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “wrong” in her opposition to a proposed trade deal with Asia.

“I love Elizabeth. We’re allies on a whole host of issues. But she’s wrong on this,” Obama says in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, scheduled to air Tuesday night.

I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was good for the middle class. And when you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into the facts they are wrong,” Obama said.

[bold added for emphasis]

This ‘folks‘ word just keeps cropping up.

Since there is no doubt about the substance, competence and accomplishments of Sen Warren, we would expect a prompt and substantive response. And there is one, and a strong one.

The blog, common dreams, highlights the quandary for a President who has thrived on rhetoric, mute teleprompter, and accommodating media promotion, Sen. Warren to Those Promising TPP Is So Great: ‘Prove It. Let Us See the Deal.’ And to put paid to the dissembling, the artifice, Warren states,

“The Administration says I’m wrong – that there’s nothing to worry about,” Warren wrote in a blog post addressed to constituents and the general public on Wednesday. “They say the deal is nearly done, and they are making a lot of promises about how the deal will affect workers, the environment, and human rights. Promises – but people like you can’t see the actual deal.”

From the HuffPo blog, accessible medium to the corporate Democrats, we get, After Getting Called Out, Elizabeth Warren Accuses Obama Of Deliberately Hiding Trade Details.

[But] on Wednesday, Warren accused the administration of deliberately hiding unpopular details from the public.

The government doesn’t want you to read this massive new trade agreement. It’s top secret,” Warren said in a statement on her website. “Why? Here’s the real answer people have given me: ‘We can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.'”

If the American people would be opposed to a trade agreement if they saw it, then that agreement should not become the law of the United States,” Warren continued.

[bold added for emphasis]

And here is the zugzwang for the US President – his legacy deals are ‘top secret’ – except to the corporations which have substantial input, and some of his negotiators have been trade lobbyists. He had failed to mention that minor detail. And, yes, the ludicrous statement about employment and wage benefits had been debunked time and again.

That would return us to the economics of the President’s confident assertions. Here we have Josh Bivens of EPI who converts his technical analysis to conversation style, and without ambiguity, No, the TPP Won’t Be Good for the Middle-Class. Straight and to the point, the title. We then get two paragraphs of the refutation of the President’s assertion,

President Obama has been vociferously defending the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) recently. He insists that it will be good for the American middle-class and that TPP’s critics arguing otherwise are wrong. But in this case he’s wrong and the TPP critics are right: there is no indication at all that the TPP will be good for the American middle-class.

[snip]

The basic argument for why the TPP is likely to be a bad deal for the middle class is pretty simple. For one, even a genuine “free trade agreement” that was passed with no other complementary policies would actually not be good for the American middle-class, even if it did generate gains to total national income. For another, the TPP (like nearly all trade agreements the US signs) is not a “free trade agreement”—instead it’s a treaty that will specify just who will be protected from international competition and who will not. And the strongest and most comprehensive protections offered are by far those for US corporate interests. Finally, there are international economic agreements that the US could be negotiating to help the American middle-class. They would look nothing like the TPP.

[bold added for emphasis]

Then again Senator Warren and her cohorts, like the rest of us, had long known this? On just one matter, the power of the corporation versus the state: Philip Morris vs Uruguay and Australia? Just one.

Of course, there is that thing about arguing against the facts – motive, that agenda, that legacy, those rewards, that assured ‘pot of gold’ at the end of the rainbow (term in office)]. Clinton Model. Clinton Model? The 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, replaced by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – and the ensuing ‘perquisites’.

And speaking of being forewarned, Dean Baker, co-director of CEPR (US), has been at the forefront, highlighting MSM inaccuracies, distortions, and misinformation on the US-proposed trade deals. This week’s attack on Sen Warren by the US President recalls the rather annoyed title of that blog post of 30 Jan 2015 of Baker’s, The BS Storm is Coming on Trade Deals.

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