Even Wall Street Gets the China Trade Deficit is a Real Drag on the U.S. Economy

Offshore outsourcing manufacturing to China loses American jobs. Now it seems even Wall Street traders are figuring that out. Wall Street is finally reading research on job losses, currency manipulation and China.

 

epi state job china

 

The above map is from a new EPI briefing paper on the job losses for each State, attributable to China, from 2001 to 2010 California alone has lost 454,600 jobs, or 2.74% of their total jobs. California has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

China eliminated or displaced 2.8 million jobs, 1.9 million (69.2 percent) of which were in manufacturing. The 1.9 million manufacturing jobs eliminated or displaced due to trade with China represents nearly half of all U.S. manufacturing jobs lost or displaced between China’s entry into WTO and 2010

While Americans were being fired like Schindler's List in 2009, guess who was hiring?  U.S. corporations operating in China.

The 2.8 million jobs lost or displaced in all sectors include 453,100 jobs lost or displaced from 2008 to 2010 alone, even though imports from China and the rest of world collapsed in 2009.

Almost a third of the job losses were from those jobs of tomorrow, or advanced, high tech jobs and we haven't even mentioned India's BPO industry or the use of foreign guest workers to import cheaper labor, displace U.S. workers yet, where millions of additional jobs, especially those requiring college degrees, have been lost.

The trade deficit in the computer and electronic parts industry grew the most, displacing 909,400 jobs—32.6% of all jobs displaced between 2001 and 2010.

If a corporation didn't fire the American and offshore outsource the job, they squeezed worker wages instead. EPI found the average full-time worker lost $1,400 a year in wages.

Unfortunately Wall Street still thinks manufacturing offshore outsourcing is all about cheap labor:

China is taking American jobs, labor unions, politicians and economists, have accused for some time. The logic is simple. While a manufacturing job in the U.S. may pay $50 an hour, when salary and benefits are factored in, Chinese factory laborers make little more than a few hundred dollars a month.

The 24/7 article doesn't realize it's the finished good where the profit margins are greatest, not labor costs. Additionally multinational corporations pour capital, investment into so called emerging economies in herd style behavior. Much of the U.S. plant, manufacturing move to China was conditional by the Chinese government, in order to gain access to China's mythical 1.4 billion person consumer markets.

Foreign-invested enterprises (both joint ventures and wholly owned subsidiaries) were responsible for 55% of China’s exports and 68% of its trade surplus in 2010 (Scott 2011b). Outsourcing —through foreign direct investment in factories that make goods for export to the United States—has played a key role in the shift of manufacturing production and jobs from the United States to China since it entered the WTO in 2001.

The statistical reality shows China's currency manipulation is the #1 reason the United States has lost 2.8 million jobs to China in the last decade.

But Wall Street's assumptions, it's cheaper to manufacture in China, are not always true. ABC News has been running a series, Made in America, where the reporters find a public institution, promoting and selling Chinese goods. ABC then goes out, and buys equivalent American goods. What they found is more often than not, it's cheaper, or the same price to buy American made goods.

Congress might get serious about confronting China's currency manipulation, so what's the next move for the Chinese?  Why remove the dollar as the reserve currency, of course.

China hates having to rely on the dollar. Officials are troubled by the Federal Reserve’s notably loose monetary policy and by America’s rapidly rising public debt. They fear that stimulus measures put in place to revive America’s flagging economy will sooner or later generate a burst of high inflation and weaken the dollar. That would hurt holders of US government bonds, including China. Around $2 trillion of its currency reserves of $3.2 trillion are in dollars, mostly in bonds. On August 5th America lost its triple-A credit rating from Standard & Poor’s because it had failed to come up with a credible plan to cap its public debt. China’s official news agency, Xinhua, immediately called for a new reserve currency.

The good news is finally, finally Wall Street is starting to connect the dots between bad trade deals, globalization and the utter implosion of the U.S. economy. The question next is will they vote with their actual trades, investments, to start giving America and the U.S. worker an even break. Since our government could care less about the U.S. worker, maybe finally investors will.

That said, don't hold your breath. The typical reaction on Wall Street when mass firings are announced by a company is to go buy more of their stock. Wall Street still believes Sherman's March style worker slash and burn, rape and pillage is great for corporate profit bottom lines.

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Comments

Friends of the USD, unite!

"Congress might get serious about confronting China's currency manipulation, so what's the next move for the Chinese?  Why remove the dollar as the reserve currency, of course."  -- Robert Oak

The USD still has billions of friends out there beyond our borders. The strange thing is how friends of the dollar have dwindled in number here in the homeland! Stranger yet is that psychological undermining of the USD is often promoted by those who would like to style themselves as somehow the last of the patriots!

IMO, the best way to bolster the dollar, short of thorough-going reforms that would include monetary reform, is --

(a) through real tax reform (not the Norquist 'rax revolt' fraud), eliminating loopholes and implementing the Buffet rule; and,

(b) through financial regulation reform, with teeth.

My reasoning is that solid currencies like the Swiss Franc have well-managed and stable governments to keep an eye on the banks -- thus requiring, without hypocrisy, good management and stability from banks. Switzerland proves it can be done in a multi-cultural society with democratic traditions and institutions.

Stability, in and of itself, should be a major priority. But there is no stability in such 'reforms' as 'just eliminate the IRS', 'do away with regulation (and national sovereignty)'. 'all government is inherently evil (except the WTO)', 'no disclosure of political donations by government contractors, including foreign corporations', 'SSA equals Communist socialism', and, 'gold standard or bust' (the bust coming before the gold standard).

Nor is there any stability in continuing along with the 'free trade' agenda without first accomplishing thorough-going reform of the WTO system. There just is no stability in stupidly pursuing the 'free trade' agenda -- for the USA or for the world. That appears, however, to be the dominant belief among what are increasingly known as the 'ruling élite' in Washington!

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A house divided

Lincoln never said that the house wasn't divided already, before his famous "House Divided" speech! And that's where we are now with 'free trade' here in the USA ... hopefully! Hopefully, the House will be so divided that the three pending FTAs will fail or will not even be sent over by the President. But essentially and absolutely, the House must be clearly seen as divided in fact on this issue of the 'free trade' agenda ... just as the American people, in reality, are united against it!

More than two years before becoming president, Abraham Lincoln said:

A house divided against itself cannot stand ...  I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. -- Abraham Lincoln, 16 June 1858, accepting Republican Party nomination for US Senator (Illinois)

 

It's only in the last few days that we have heard ANY members of the GOP acknowledging that there might be something to be said for compromise with the Democrat enemy for the sake of a good greater than a temporary victory in the supposed take-no-prisoners cultural war. Meanwhile, none dare criticize capitulation to the free-trade agenda that has nearly destroyed America and is leading inexorably to crowning of the Chinese renminbi ("the people's currency") as the global reserve currency!

Do recent GOP gestures of interest in bi-partisanship mean anything -- beyond a stubborn willfulness to enact three more FTAs at any cost to American working families?

Meanwhile, there's no talking head in all of MSM discussing the worst kept secret in the USA -- that partisan warfare must be put off briefly while these FTAs are snuck through under the guise of the GOP compromising ("for the good of all") by overwhelmingly voting for the FTAs.

May voters visit pure hell on any member of Congress, or any other candidate for federal office, who votes for, or does anything but vote and speak out clearly against, the three pending FTAs!

Don't Tread on Me image (public domain)(Left: "Dont Tread on Me" image from various historical USA flags)

They say that everybody has a price. Today, the price demanded by the American people is notably improved performance by politicians of either major party and/or of both of them together ... or, if necessary, not of either major party and a pox on both their houses!

Whatever they call it, however they attempt to disguise it, this is legislation pure and simple. The idea is to entangle the legislation in trade complications such that any future attempts at reform can be combated as impossible -- beyond the legislative purview of the United States, regardless of what the Constitution clearly states. As Robert Oak has pointed out, these so-called 'trade agreements' are legislating tax and money-laundering loopholes, undermining the constitutional rights of creative inventors and innovators, and, accelerating the race-to-the-bottom for working people everywhere!

Am I suggesting that there is a de facto ruling élite here in USA that must significantly fracture along lines of UP OR DOWN WHERE DO YOU STAND on these three treasonous 'agreements' ... or be rejected in toto by determined anger of the American people?

Oooops! Am I ranting?  angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry

 

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Snakes on the move among the crumbs

Here's how the WTO system 'works' for USA working families today -- we get to lick up the crumbs that fall off the negotiating tables. It's called Trade Adjustment Assistance. (Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Yes, snakes are once again on the move in the grass where we desperately crawl among the crumbs looking for survival! Talking about what is currently before the United States Congress here!

snake in the grass (public domain)

"Snake in the grass" -- from PublicDomainPictures.net

 

One last hope is the White House. But the White House has set itself up to look treacherous and partisan if deciding, at long last, to take an unambiguous stand for American working families by refusing to send the three pending FTAs over to the Congress for approval! If this is to be the final and ultimate sell-out, then so be it! Obama will fall in 2012.

Otherwise, our last and final hope will be the United States Senate and/or the House of Representatives.

Here's the crappy news (22 September 2011) from Reuters.com, story by Doug Palmer, 'Senate okays ... trade deals"

Excerpted for review purposes --

(Reuters) - The Senate on Thursday handed President Barack Obama a victory by passing a program to help workers displaced by foreign competition, paving the way for action on three long-delayed trade deals.

The Senate voted to approve a bill containing a revamped Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which Obama has demanded as his price for sending [pending three] free trade pacts ... to Congress.

"Today's vote is a major victory for American workers and a key step forward in our efforts to approve the job-creating free trade agreements," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell urged Obama to now show some "trust" in Republicans by submitting the agreements to Congress before the House of Representatives has voted on the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill.
"The Senate today will have acted on trust in passing TAA even before we received the agreements. But the White House has refused to show the same trust in Congressional Republicans who've assured them that TAA will move along with the FTAs (Free Trade Agreements), McConnell said on the Senate floor.

In case you didn't catch that, we're quoting the Democrat Chairman chief snake of the Senate Finance Committee, and also the official Senate Republican leader chief snake for 'the minority' -- and they are in the minority on this issue, if on no others, as far as We the People are concerned! Or has your favorite talking head been telling you about a recent poll showing popular support for 'free' trade deals? No? Didn't think so.

 

no

no

no

"Hello, White House? I want to talk to the President ... Congressional switchboard, put me through to Senator _____________ ... okay, let me have the honorable Representative ______________, I'm calling from out here in ___________ where us voters live ... Remember me? What's the matter with you? Haven't you learned not to trust snakes? Don't do it! Turn thumbs down on these dummass trade deals! We've had enough! More than enough! Or maybe you'd like to find out what a 'Don't Tread on Me' snake can do. So, PLEASE! Got it? Yeah, put that through immediately. I'll get back to you in November next year. Count on it. ... What's that? Training? Look, train this  no -- okay?

no

no

no

 

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The good news - Senate to the rescue?

The good news is that it ain't over till it's over, and it ain't over!

But the good news is murky and anything but unambiguous. It's clothed in layers of disguise and secrecy, going back to origins of the whole 'free' trade charade as a huge political-diplomatic-idealistic left-right anti-Communist and now anti-Terrorist ... projection of USA power around the world.

It all started with the 'national interest' of the USA back in the days of the 'Washington Consensus', but somehow our national interests became exactly identical to the transnational interests of transnational corporations and the unimpeded flow of global capital ... to wherever it gets the best treatment by local authorities. First, you beat the stuffing out of the Communists, then you knock yourself out for the grand finale.

Votes in Senate and House, September 2011

All we have so far is that the  Senate (22 September 2011) has invoked cloture on HR 2832, which was passed (7 September 2011) in the House by voice vote with no record of how your representative did or did not vote --

BTW: Do you have any issues with Speaker of the House Boehner and crew?

Or is the House voting in secret your idea of representative government at its best?

But back to the Senate. The vote to invoke cloture was 70 to 27. See, www.GovTrack webpage following this bill in Congress. For how your Senators voted on cloture, see Senate Vote Number 150.

There was no Democrat opposed to invoking cloture (even among those who are opposed to the FTAs themselves), and there was substantial opposition on cloture from the GOP, including Grassley of Iowa, Hatch of Utah, McCain of Arizona and even the GOP Senate leader McConnell of Kentucky, who later described the deal in glowing terms (?).

I have one source, dated 17 September 2011, cited below, that claims Republicans are flat-out down with the FTAs, so who knows? Since then, many Senate Republicans have voted Nay on cloture for HR 2832 ... so what the article is really saying is that the Republican House leadership is for the FTAs, but the Senate may be a whole 'nother ball game ... anyway, that's a possibility.

About all I know for sure at this time is that GOP 'leaders' in the House are okay with secret votes on crucial issues and MSM will go to any lengths to protect us the People from looking at that fact. From that, I continue my disgust with GOP House 'leadership' and most of MSM. I also conjecture that 'insiders' do not want any of us out here to track what they are doing. (Think not only Boehner but also Bill Clinton, who is deep into the distraction nonsense that somehow if USA workers suffer, that's good for the poor in undeveloped nations.)

So what is HR 2832 anyway?

HR 2832 is the trial balloon. It combines the TAA with something called an extension of GSP or 'Generalized System of Preferences'. Personally, that would not take me more than a New York minute to decide to vote against it, just on its name alone.

Look at it: 'generalized' means applying universally, but 'preference' means applying in some cases but not universally. I'm not saying that it's all zero-sum, but an oxymoron is a contradiction-in-terms by any name.

Anyway, apparently the 'generalized system of preferences' was about to expire -- OMG! -- and then the sky would fall for sure. I mean, this is a sacred cow, you know. It's basic to WTO since way back in Uruguay Round. And, of course, what's good for WTO is good for America, right? Or is it? See, 'WTO Serves Its Own Interests, Not U.S. Interests' by Karl Rusnik at EP-linked Economy in Crisis.

GSP exempts WTO member countries from the usual rules in order to lower tariffs for countries identified as 'least developed' -- basically stiff-arming the issue of equal tariffs for everybody.

What's interesting is that GSP gives the lie to any idea that the WTO system is somehow seeking to rise above mere politics for the sake of establishing a level playing field around a 'flat' world. You get it, don't you? If you want to establish equality, you start with the premise that some are more equal than others. Of course!

What is this anyway? I thought the idea was to eliminate preferences, which are, after all, discriminatory trade barriers by definition.

But no, we must have some preferences because a poor nation should have a little advantage because their work force is much more vulnerable to exploitation by MNCs, right? So, we want to assure higher profits for companies that exploit that cheap labor source, right?

Actually, it's just that nobody could talk Third World 'leaders' into joining into the WTO system and abandoning their tariffs if there wasn't something like this GSP thing. Some of these new countries somehow had the idea that borders were an important element in becoming recognized as real countries. We had to convince them of the error of their thinking ... basically because we had to have these countries in on the deal since that's where the seriously cheap labor is. Also, in the back of our minds, we were still thinking, these huddled masses ... they might all become Communists or even socialists! Plus there's the spiritual side of it -- like Bill Clinton, we could just feel the pain something terrible of these poor people around the world wink

So, essentially, a vote against GSP is a vote against the entire WTO world system ... and such a vote guarantees, if you are opposed to it, that you are a dirty dog of a racist blush

After all, you are actually insisting that jobs for USA working people are as important as jobs for people in Third World countries that have no chance of any employment standards anyway ... so who would want to be seen as taking such a terrible stand? Especially when it's a building-block component of the whole WTO thing?

Well, bless them, Republican senators, that's who!

But it gets denser than that ... USA retains the privilege to exempt some nations from the exemption because they are just too Communist (Cuba, although not China) or they are just too friendly toward terrorists (Libya at one time, although neither South Yemen nor North Korea), or, they don't sufficiently enforce intellectual property rights of Disney so then USA could (oh, goodness) retaliate or even (goodness gracious) file a case with the WTO ... but that doesn't really happen, because problems can always be worked at the 'czar' level by the US Trade Representative ... just a friendly little chat among the good old boys ... no need to get working people or their elected representatives involved.

Whatever happens, we must not let the 'politicians' get into it! Just us WTO technocrats. We know best.

The bad news ... or is it spin?

The bad news is that informed opinion calls the whole thing 'Obama's Trade Agenda' and says, flat out, Republicans are down with it. So it's NAFTA redux all over again.

About the Obama part of it, who knows what his agenda is, other than raising campaign funds for 2012? But he's always been a 'free' trade kind of guy, so the odds are short that he would ever refuse to send the FTAs (first negotiated by Bush) over to the House if the Senate does pass on HR 2832.

Supposedly, even though many Senate Republicans voted against it, and some Senate Democrats are opposed ... it's destiny. You know, like 'free' trade was always just inevitable and now it's too late anyway.

But then there's the other shoe -- are Senate Democrats down with this? That's the question -- how many Democratic senators will go along with how many Republican senators to nip this FTA crap in the bud?

As for the FTAs after the GSP/TAA, we can be assured that the House will at least try to pull off another secret vote ... barring serious public outcry. (Meanwhile, there's a MSM blackout on the whole thing -- distraction, distraction, distraction.)

Senate vote coming up very soon (cloture clock is ticking)

It would appear that the Senate vote, soon-to-be held, is the test balloon for the FTAs. However, it's conceivable that a few senators would vote Yea on HR 2832 and yet vote Nay on the FTAs. The problem is that there's probably language in HR 2832 that makes the TAA dead-on-arrival without the FTAs. So what would be the point of opposing HR 2932 unless you are opposed to the FTAs?

From The Atlantic (17 September 2011), article by Chris Good, 'Republicans Support Obama's Trade Agenda. Do Democrats?' --

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will take the first step in pursuing Obama's trade agenda by introducing the TAA bill. According to spokesman Adam Jentleson, Reid hopes to pass it by the end of the week and move on to the three FTAs.

Not all Democrats will cooperate.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a labor ally and a staunch Obama backer in 2008, has lambasted the three trade deals even as Obama has pushed for them. "I continue to believe it is a dangerous mistake to pursue the same kind of trade deals that ballooned our deficit and led to massive job loss," he wrote in December [2010].

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) spoke out against the trade deals in July [2011]. "I think this is a road we shouldn't take," he told the Pittsburgh Gazette.

... In the Senate, Democratic leaders have not yet begun to whip the trade deals, according to a senior Democratic aide, so it's difficult to tell how many will support the deal. In the House, resistance could be more significant.

 

HATE TO GET POLITICAL, BUT IF YOU CARE ABOUT THIS ISSUE, NOW IS THE TIME TO CALL YOUR CONGRESS CRITTURS!

Give the friendly representative in the House a good piece of your mind about passing stuff in secret!

Then unload on your favorite senators about their working for foreign interests.

That should do it.

Raise hell. It's fun.

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thanks for the legislative updates on the Korean, Panama Trade

deals. I'm just assuming they will pass them, like they always do because they are bought and paid fors by MNCs, GE and Caterpillar, et. al.

I'd be shocked if the Senate didn't. While we know about most GOP, although there area few not completely corrupted yet, most of the Democratic Senators are from the same bird.

I know Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders and probably a few others are trying to do something but the ethical honest person is just outnumbered.

What was that about corporations controlling both parties?

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GOP senators call for FTAs

Mea culpa. Senate vote #150 was already history when I posted my comment, and now, on review, I see that #150 was the vote on the GSP/TAA itself, not the vote on cloture for GSP/TAA! So, here's the correction: GSP/TAA passed the Senate (70 to 27) on 22 September 2011, preparing the way for another sell-out of the American people in three more so-called 'free' trade agreements (FTAs) ...

... (the cloture vote (84 to 8) was taken on 19 September 2011) ...

... and now, the other shoe to drop is when the President sends the three FTAs over to Congress for approval ... and GOP members of Congress can hardly wait for another chance to betray US workers and the US economy ... so that they can pass GO and collect their money, while there is still time for voters to have forgotten all this betrayal before next November 2012 ... or so that they won't have to worry if they are never re-elected anyway, as they call in favors owed to them by MNCs.

GOP senators have sent a letter to Obama asking that he quickly send over the three FTAs so they can be approved. The eleven signers of that letter are Republican leader McConnell (Ky.), Orrin Hatch (Utah) Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), John Cornyn (Texas), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Thune (S.D.) and Richard Burr (N.C.).

In Vote #150, ten of the eleven voted NAY, and Enzi did not vote. But now they are all for the FTAs themselves! A nest of 'free-trader' snakes, including Hatch and Grassley who both voted NAY on 22 September 2011 (obviously only against the TAA).

Following is from article in The Hill (Vicki Needham, 9 September 2011), Senate Republicans step up pressure on White House to submit free-trade deals

"Submitting the free trade agreements to Congress is a concrete step you can take to help the American economy recover," they wrote.

"We urge you to take that step immediately. Once you submit these agreements, we are confident that they will be quickly considered and approved by a bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress."

 

I mistakenly supposed that at least some of the 27 NAY votes (all GOP) on 22 September 2011 were symbolically taking a stand against renewal of the GSP, which would mean symbolically against the entire WTO system. But no, appears to be not the case!

The reality appears once again that GOP members of Congress have never seen a FTA that they didn't like!

The GOP NAY votes were symbolically against only the TAA (Trade Adjustment Assistance) -- the crumbs to be thrown to Americans who will lose jobs in the very near future if these three FTAs are approved by the House and by the Senate. Approval by the House is 100% certain, especially since Boehner can repeat the September 7 act of betrayal -- when Boehner allowed a voice vote where no votes are recorded so no one will be able to cite these votes in 2012!

Approval by the Senate is still unclear at best, but Senate approval would be much less certain if some GOP senators would come out announcing strongly their NAYs now, when they actually may make a difference.

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Sen. Reid opposed to FTAs

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate Majority leader, is lining up with at least some other Senate Democrats as opposed to the three FTAs that are being pushed by Obama (as the Obama trade policy, even though they were negotiated back during the Bush administration).

Reid, who was re-elected in 2010 and won't face re-election until 2014, appears to be speaking for a number of Democratic senators.

Following is excerpted from article in The Hill (Vicki Needham, 25 September 2011), Pelosi and Reid at odds with Obama over trade

The White House and Democratic leaders in Congress are at odds over three pending trade deals that President Obama is poised to send to Capitol Hill.

Throughout the summer, Obama has been making the case that the trade accords with Colombia, South Korea and Panama will help the ailing economy by creating jobs. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) disagree.

The politically awkward situation comes at a time when the nation's unemployment rate is 9.1 percent ...

Reid has vowed to vote against all three deals when they arrive on the Senate floor, possibly as early as next month.

"I am not a big fan of free-trade agreements," Reid said on the Senate floor in June. "My voting record is in accordance with that."

Reid has a long track record of voting against free trade deals, including no votes on the U.S. agreements with Chile and Singapore in 2003, the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States-Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2005, Oman in 2006 and Peru in 2007.

"I think if you asked people in Nevada: Boy, hasn't NAFTA helped us a lot, they would just sneer and walk away," he said in his floor speech. "We keep talking about free-trade agreements, but where is the fair part of those trade agreements? Shouldn't we be more worried about our American workers than workers in other places? I think that certainly is the case."

 

Pelosi

The article from The Hill states that Pelosi also is in disagreement with Obama on 'free' trade issues. She takes what is known as a 'more nuanced' position than Reid, although the facts seem to be saying that it all comes down to the worm turning on CAFTA. Yes, CAFTA was enacted in 2005 with a 217-215 vote in the House, but only 15 Democrats voted for it (and no Democrats failed to vote). The populist strength of the anti-FTA position was already clear in 2005, and it is much stronger now.

According to the Vicki Needham article from The Hill

In 2008, Pelosi torpedoed fast-track authority for the Colombia agreement and that was the last lawmakers have seen of the [three] agreements [now pending].

The California Democrat, who supported trade deals with Peru, Singapore and Chile but opposed CAFTA, hasn't said outright that she would vote against the three deals. Instead, she has shifted her attention to what she considers higher-priority job-creation measures -- more funding for infrastructure and a China currency bill, both of which she has said "would keep American workers on our shores."

 

China currency issue

Yes, that's correct: House Democratic leader Pelosi says she is focusing on "a China currency bill" which "would keep American workers on our shores."

(That's a strange way of putting it, must be quoted out of context -- "keep American workers on our shores." It sounds like workers are shipping out of San Francisco, headed for the South China Sea. Surely, Pelosi would mean to say "keep American jobs on our shores" or "keep American workers employed on our shores.")

 

Need for accountability in House voting

It will indeed be a sorry day for the United States of America if Boehner decides to repeat the voice-vote charade when the three treaties come up for a vote in the House. An even sorrier day if nobody even notices ....

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Wow, that's Great news on FTAs!

I have just assumed they would pass them, since multinational corporations are the ones demanding these bad trade deals.

If they are actually blocked by Democrats, they just got a spine.

I'm sorry, but especially the Panama one, it seems it's all about tax havens and has nothing to do with bad trade.

The Korean trade deal will flood the U.S. with Korean autos.

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Progressive populists vs party machine

"If they [three pending FTAs] are actually blocked by Democrats, they [Democrats in Congress] just got a spine." -- Robert Oak

 

For the FTAs to be blocked is probably more than we can hope for, but at least some are putting up a fight. Unfortunately, the fight may be like the proverbial tree falling in the forest ... unless corporate media begins to pay attention. That being unlikely, I take it to be our duty to report on action in the Congress as fully and accurately as possible.

Dems in Congress, with a few GOP votes, have already blocked the three FTAs since before 2008. There was really no chance for these FTAs in the 111th Congress (2009-2010), a congress that was just short of the full 60 votes in the Senate to amount to a complete Democratic take-over (in November 2008).

Going back to NAFTA, there were more Dems in the House voting NAY than voted for it. NAFTA and the others passed with nearly unanimous GOP support along with support from many Dems, but more particularly, with the support of the Democratic Party machine. However, it's been a two-party thing -- every White House since Reagan has actively promoted the FTA agenda.

It's less a matter of getting a spine than it is a matter of the count of those with spines plus those whose stomachs weaken the more they look at the FTAs. The wonder is that we can even be discussing the possibility that the FTAs perhaps cannot survive a vote on cloture because of opposition from 40 senators with spines! That would really be Great News!

Historically, the action on FTAs was always in the House rather than in the Senate. This probably has something to do with that members of the House get to run for re-election every two years, although cases of US representatives deciding to retire in comfort after voting for FTAs are not uncommon. However, in this year 2011, Boehner managed a 'voice' (or 'secret') vote on GSP/TAA (7 September 2011) -- which shifted the battleground to the Senate, where only one out of three seats are subject to re-election in 2012.

Having said that, it's true that anti-FTA forces were routed in the 1990s. Meanwhile, anti-FTA members of the Congress have generally done well in elections, even though they are almost invariably underfunded against well-funded adversaries.

The corporate media has systematically under-reported the anti-FTA faction of the congressional Democrats, saying that they are just going along with the demands made on them by their biggest contributors, the Unions -- and we all know that what's good for the Unions is bad for everyone else! wink

Corporate media has been doing everything possible to hide or disguise the popularity of protectionism. While the 'free trade' agenda never was enthusiastically supported by a majority of the American people, it is now clear that a majority of the electorate are unabashedly in support of protectionism.

What we are seeing currently in Congress can hardly be described without resorting to the 'F' word ... FEAR. Not so much fear that the three pending FTAs won't be passed, but actually that they will be passed ... with disastrous results in 2012 for those members of Congress who vote for them. The old hands who have stood against the FTAs all along (for example, Peter DeFazio of Oregon) are the only ones who can ride through this storm with any sense of integrity.

In the Capitol, especially since Boehner was apparently able to pull off a 'voice' (or 'secret') vote on GSP/TAA (7 September 2011) with virtually no media or populist notice, the assumption is that the three FTAs will float on through like balloons hoisted on their own petards -- petards stinking mostly with the thought of 'inevitability." We get FTAs because we can be talked into the idea that any and all FTAs are 'inevitable' -- such that we, the People, are powerless.

Back in the 1990s, all you needed to discredit anyone who dared to oppose the 'free' trade agenda, was to hint that it was a populist idea, and populism, of course, was next to racism. In the Memory Hole of SuperAmerica, the cross-group populism of Ross Perot has been bleeped out, leaving George Wallace and the Dixiecrats as the defining historical context for 'populism'. (Not to condemn Wallace, the point here is that there was once an association between 'populism' and 'racism' that has been used to discredit the populist defense of protectionism.)

Now, especially since CAFTA, popularity of protectionism extends far beyond the Unions and progressive-populist Democrats or a precious few 'maverick' Republicans like Ron Paul. (Ron Paul's declared trade platform advocates USA leaving the WTO but at the same time unilaterally eliminating all tariffs and other trade barriers -- ???)

What's remarkable at this time is that there was no outcry from the famous 'Tea Party' about the voice vote in the House (a vote with no record as to how any member voted) -- clearly an indication that the 'Tea Party' movement has been bought and sold.

Meanwhile, most Democrats who think of themselves as 'progressive', are just now waking up to the economic consequences for USA of the WTO world system. It's just now occurring to them that, no matter what 'Rooseveltian' may once have comprehended, it can no longer apply to anything because the world has changed in ways that make it impossible to reach the Rooseveltian goals using the 'Rooseveltian' means.

Many of the anti-FTA people in Congress are as Rooseveltian as you can get, but they never did confuse the Rooseveltian goals with the FTA-WTO agenda. Those who honestly confabulated the Rooseveltian with the corporatist approaches to the goals of world peace and universal prosperity have had cause to repent.

The Preface to the famous Communist Manifesto of 1848 begins with these words:

A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.

Today, while there is no specter of communism haunting America, there is the specter of protectionism. Just as with communism in 1848, so today 60 years later, all the powers of the World have entered into a holy alliance to exorcize this specter: the multi-cultural Church and the multi-national Corporation, the international central bankers, the drug lords of Columbia, the oil lords of the Persian Gulf, the CIA and the Communist Party of China.

This specter haunting America potentially can unite Americans across class and other political-identity lines. I don't know what anyone should do about this specter, if anything ... but I do know that it's out there and it can't be denied, especially if the USA economy continues its downward trajectory.

There is a specter haunting American politics ... the specter of Protectionism.

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