Disaffected voters often claim there is little difference between the two major parties. In this case, they may be right.
Although negotiations have been less than transparent, it is becoming apparent to a majority of Americans that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a great deal for the global corporatocracy aspiring to rule the world – but not so great to the workers who actually produce goods and services, carrying out the day-to-day functions of society. According to analyses of leaked information, the TPP also poses a threat to democracy itself.
It raises the question of why a President who ran on “Hope and Change” is so adamant in his support for a secret trade deal that promises to be worse that everything that has been shoved down our collective throats for the past quarter century.
Could it be about payback?
It was back in February 2011 that journalist and former Florida congressman Joe Scarborough described the relationship between President Obama and Wall Street in a guest column for Politico as “a beautiful friendship.” According to Scarborough, Obama “raised more money from Wall Street …than any politician in American history.”
It now appears that Wall Street wants Obama to return the favor. It is true that White House economic policy have helped create the largest profits and returns on investment in the history of capitalism – but as the last few decades have clearly demonstrated, it’s never enough for Wall Street. In December 2014, its nemesis, Elizabeth Warren, began sounding alarms about how the TTP would severely weaken regulatory reform efforts (among other disasters).
And that’s just how Wall Street, with its addictions to gambling and theft, would like it.
It’s not the first time Wall Street has bribed a candidate. Republicans have rightfully earned a reputation as the party of Wall Street – but Wall Street likes to hedge its bets.
In January of 1996, a Los Angeles Times article reported that former President Clinton’s largest campaign contributor was Goldman, Sachs & Company – a firm that would later reap large profits from the 2007-08 subprime mortgage crisis. That company also had a large stake in Mexican stocks and bonds.
Is it coincidence that Clinton was a champion of the North American Free Trade Agreement?
Over the course of the 1990s, NAFTA policies increased foreign investment in Mexico by well over 400%. It was good for the investor class – but it didn’t work out so well for labor in either country. Neither did its expansion, the Central American Free Trade Agreement. In fact, President Clinton negotiated some 300 trade agreements that lowered, and even eliminated tariffs – allowing Fortune 500 companies to ship jobs and factories abroad, ignoring those pesky environmental regulations in the process.
Today, Hillary Clinton faces opposition from her base over the whole issue of “free trade.” Acknowledging that NAFTA “failed to live up to its promises,” she is distancing herself from the President, telling the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. should reject any trade agreement that “that fails to protect U.S. workers.”
Yet Ms. Clinton chooses her words carefully. She appears to be playing both ends – the liberal base whose votes and support she needs, and her corporatist Wall Street donors, whose cash is paying her campaign bills.
In the meantime, President Obama continues to say, “Just trust me on this.” Maybe he’s sincere in his belief that the TPP is ultimately a good thing – but given his relationship with Wall Street and the secrecy surrounding the agreement, we have to wonder what he’s trying to hide.