Hillary Clinton Backs Fast-Track on Obama’s Trade Deals

Eric Zuesse

On Sunday, June 14th, Hillary Clinton came out publicly for the first time in support of President Obama’s trade-deals — TPP with Asia, TTIP with Europe, and on TISA with all nations to lower the standards on banking and insurance and to privatize government services. She said that Democrats in Congress should follow Nancy Pelosi’s leadership on the issue. Here is proof that Nancy Pelosi was doing everything she could to get enough Democratic votes in the House so as to enable the Republicans to pass Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority, the crucial thing that will enable Obama’s ‘trade’ deals to then be rammed through into law. Pelosi was speaking publicly against Fast Track while arm-twisting backstage to win enough House Democrats to vote for it so that her own vote wouldn’t be necessary in order to pass it. In other words: Hillary was telling congressional Democrats to follow the leadership of the fake progressive on it, and not the leadership of the authentic progressive on it — Harry Reid, the leader of Senate Democrats, who has actually fought backstage tooth-and-nail to defeat Fast Track. She was saying: follow the liar, not the actual and honest opponent of Obama’s ‘trade’ deals.

What’s at issue in Congress right now – and thus what she was responding to – is whether or not to grant U.S. President Barack Obama the “Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority,” which will produce expedited passage for his trade-deals; the trade-deals themselves are not even before Congress yet, and have not even been made public, though the first one up for consideration will be TPP with Asia; but that deal, like the others, will virtually certainly go down to defeat unless the President first wins “Fast Track,” which is the issue now.

The reason “Fast Track” is the issue now before Congress, is that it’s actually the only feasible way for Obama to be able to win congressional passage of TPP or of any of his big-three trade-deals. It’s crucial because it reduces the Constitutionally required two-thirds of Senators voting for a given trade-deal, down to merely 50% of Senators (plus VP Joe Biden) needed to vote for it, in order for the deal to become U.S. law – and there is no way possible for this Senate to vote two-thirds for either TPP with Asia, TTIP with Europe, or TISA for “Services.” But 50% can safely be assured (especially with the gargantuan political-campaign donations that are pouring into Congress to back it).

Clinton said that it’s so important for Obama to win Fast Track authority, that, “I am willing to try now to see whether you can push to get rid of the objectionable parts, to drive a harder bargain on some of the other parts,” so that Congress will grant the President Fast Track Trade promotion Authority. (Her underlying assumption, which she knows to be false, is that to “drive a harder bargain” is “a harder bargain” against foreign nations, not against the publics in both the U.S. and all nations. International corporations will benefit enormously. But Obama is not negotiating against them; he’s negotiating against the public, for the international corporations.)

She said that the President should work with congressional Democrats “starting with Nancy Pelosi,” to pass Fast Track (though she judiciously avoided even mentioning “Fast Track,” because she’s aiming for low-information liberal voters, who – like low-information conservative voters – don’t even know what the issues actually are, and can therefore be easily swayed by her words, regardless of what the issues are).

According to the pseudonymous blogger “Gaius Publius,” who is very well connected with Democrats in Congress and with their aides: “According to two sources, in private Pelosi is working ‘almost on a daily basis’ to get Fast Track to pass, and with it, TPP.”

He further reports: “White House’s secret weapon on trade: Nancy Pelosi. Administration officials have been so impressed by Nancy Pelosi’s approach to negotiations over giving President Barack Obama ‘fast-track’ trade authority that they’ve started to consider a crazy possibility: She could even vote for it herself. But only if she has to.”

He explains that she won’t vote for it herself unless only a single additional ‘Democratic’ House member (namely, her own vote) is needed in order to get the bill over the hump and to the President’s desk to sign Fast Track into law. He reports that, “All she cares about, based on her reported behavior, is controlling her own appearance, her brand, as being ‘pro-worker,’” so that she won’t be able to be attacked in a Democratic primary by someone who is running to the left of her, saying “You sold us out!”

In other words: Nancy Pelosi already is working hand-in-glove with the White House on this fast-track matter. Pelosi wants these trade-deals to become U.S. law, just as much as does Hillary Clinton. But, of course, Democratic voters generally don’t know this (and she won’t tell them).

A subsequent headline on the matter was, “Gaius Publius: Nancy Pelosi Got a TPP Talking-To from Her Caucus, Plus Where We Are on Fast Track.” It reported the anger on the part of many House Democrats who don’t like Pelosi’s double-dealing on this: they were enraged that she wanted Obama to win Fast Track. They’re strongly against it. It’s why the vote of Friday was disastrous for the President.

Pelosi tried to do everything she possibly could in order to win Fast Track for the President. Here is how she helped, as described by “Gaius Publius”:

In order for any law to be placed upon the President’s desk for his signature, both houses of Congress – both the Senate and the House – need first to agree 100% on the contents of the bill, because a President cannot sign two different versions, only one, final, version, which has passed both houses the same. Then, he can sign it.

The Senate has already voted for a “Fast Track” that includes something called “Trade Adjustment Assistance” (TAA), which will retrain some of the U.S. workers who will lose their jobs to foreigners on account of these deals. Democrats in the Senate demanded TAA. (I previously explained how that happened.) The leader of the Senate, Republican Mitch McConnell, had to agree with it in order to achieve any sort of Fast Track that could pass in the Senate, where few Democrats like what they’ve seen of TPP – the draft that will come up first if the President first wins Fast Track. McConnell demanded from Senate Democrats that the federal money to pay for TAA would come out of the hides of Medicare benificiaries; and, though reluctantly, enough Democrats in the U.S. Senate went along with that so the bill could pass in the Senate, and then go on to the House, where it was voted down on Friday.

What’s key is that, because in the House, Democrats voted overwhelmingly against TAA (the version that passed in the Senate, with the Medicare cuts), there’s nothing now that can go directly to the President for his signature. (This was probably what Harry Reid in the Senate had expected and planned.) House Republicans were shocked; Democrats in the House weren’t accepting the bill that had obtained the support of enough Democrats in the Senate for it to pass in the Senate.

Republicans, on Friday, June 12th, responded to that failure (for them and the President) by holding an immediate vote on Fast Track without any TAA in it; and it barely passed in the House. However, it cannot go to the President’s desk, because it’s a different bill than the one the Senate had approved. This was therefore just a symbolic ‘win’ for House Republicans: it didn’t move anything toward the President’s desk.

The news media have headlined about Hillary Clinton’s statement, “Clinton urges Obama to work with Pelosi on trade deal,” but Obama has already been doing, and still is doing, precisely that. And the press even headlined things like “Hillary Clinton snubs Obama on trade deal,” which is simply false. Even the headlines sometimes lie.

Hillary Clinton actually supports Barack Obama’s trade-policy, and even supports the way in which he is trying to get it through Congress. However, the news-media didn’t report it that way.

Ms. Clinton is repeating her earlier tactics, in 2008, when she tried to give the impression that she had opposed her husband Bill Clinton’s NAFTA, though in fact she had earlier bragged about how great it was for the country and claimed it as if it were her own. As everyone knows, the Clinton foundation, the Clintons personally, and the Clinton campaign, and her past political career, have been financed very heavily by the very same international corporations and Wall Street banks, and their lobbying firms and accounting firms, that are now lobbying intensely for President Obama to win Fast Track, and for him ultimately to win all three of his mega-corporate trade deals: TPP, TTIP, and TISA.

One independent economic analysis has been done of TPP, and one has been done on TTIP. Both show huge U.S. job-losses and considerable boost to the profits of U.S.-based international corporations.

However, though those U.S. job-losses are the impacts that are receiving all of the media attention (such as TAA, to compensate for some of those job-losses), there is an even bigger issue, which is that all of these trade-deals would transfer democratic U.S. government sovereignty to regulate in the interests of the public – sovereignty to protect food-safety, product-safety, workers’ rights, and the environment, among other things – over to panels of international lawyers, whose careers will depend upon how well they serve international corporations. Those ‘arbitrators’ will come up with rulings that will not be able to be appealed to any court in any democracy at all. The worst aspect of these ‘trade’ deals would thus be that transfer of democratic national sovereignty to international corporate sovereignty. It would replace national democracies with an internattional corporate dictatorship – an international fascist world government. And, just like Barack Obama and other Republicans, Hillary Clinton favors it. (Here is the back-story of how and why.) However, for her to come right out and admit this would be suicidal for anyone who is running for the Democratic Presidential nomination. (It would hand the nomination to Bernie Sanders, whose whole career has been opposed to these types of ‘trade’ deals.) After all: it was Barack Obama himself, in his primary camppaign in 2008 against Clinton, who said, “Yesterday, Sen. Clinton also said I’m wrong to point out that she once supported NAFTA. But the fact is, she was saying great things about NAFTA until she started running for president.” He was pretending to oppose these types of ‘trade’ deals, just as she was. Only he was much more skillful at it than she is. But they both have the same financial backers, who give also very heavily – and often even more – to the Republican Party.

Whereas most Democrats in Congress try to do a decent job for the American people (and this statement is based upon their voting-records – including their having thus far beaten back the Republicans, including Obama, on Fast Track), most Democrats who run for President (just like virtually all Republicans who do) are much more interested in doing a terrific job for their biggest donors. There is (sad to say) nothing illegal about that. Whether there is anything immoral about it is (also sad to say) debated. However, voters should be skeptical of the honesty of any politician – especially if the politician is running for congress or (even more) for the White House. The past record should be the sole basis for evaluating any candidate for national office; don’t trust merely what they now are saying. To believe a candidate’s words, divorced from their proven record in public office, including things that they said previously, would be foolish. It also would assist the corruptness that already exists. And it would make immeasurably more difficult any political victory for any honest person to win those offices; so, it’s extremely unpatriotic. If a voter doesn’t have the time to investigate on his own regarding a particular election, that person would be more patriotic to simply not vote, regarding that particular political post. After all: one can leave a ballot-line blank, which allows better-informed individuals to make that given judgment. Because the nation’s fate depends upon that judgment.

But anyway, don’t believe everything you read or hear – not even this (and I’ll be delighted if you will check out every source I’ve linked to, because I am honest; that’s my top commitment – and it’s also why I always link to my main sources, so that they can be easily accessed). It’s almost impossible to be successful as a journalist, regarding serious matters such as these, and to be employable by large-audience, well-financed, news-media (so I am entirely independent), because news-media are backed by the corporations that advertise in them, including by their ‘non-profit’ foundations. For example, pro-publica, which, like virtually all news-media, receives all of my news-reports and commentaries, just recently placed mine on their spam-list. They won’t report to their readers the types of things that I customarily send to them and report. The level of public trust may be going down, but it still is way too high. One learns this, as an independent journalist, on important issues, such as international matters: the public is too trusting. Scoundrels benefit enormously from that excess of trust. By contrast, decent politicians suffer major competitive disadvantage from the excess of trust. Excess of trust gives the competitive advantage to liars. Unfortunately, ours is not a society in which trust by the public is warranted. Maybe it once was; it’s not now.

Please pass this along to friends, and post it to Facebook and Twitter, so that others can know, too, that despite what the news-media might be saying, Hillary Clinton supports Barack Obama’s ‘trade’ agenda, which is actually his mega-corporate agenda – which she has always shared along with him. If your friends are going to support her, at least they ought to know what they are supporting. The links here provide access to the facts.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of  Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.