Nobody expected that the days of K Street lobbyists writing legislation would end with Democratic control of Congress, but it's hard to know what the extent of the damage is with regard the new trade bill because the details of the bill are an inexplicable secret.
David Sirota has been doing a series of posts (I, II) about this "deal" on a package of trade agreements, and although it's difficult to read the tea leaves, they don't portend well. The press conference to announce the deal was hosted by the New Democrats (as Sirota notes, this is "the group of Democrats that have historically supported lobbyist-written trade pacts and that was instrumental in passing the credit card-industry-written bankruptcy bill. No progressive Democrats appear at the press conference.") Not exactly a sparkling pedigree.
Despite the endorsement of Rangel and Pelosi, many Democrats say that half or more of the Democrats in Congress may vote against the deal. But the agreement is expected to pass with strong backing among Republicans, whose leaders will urge them to vote with President George W. Bush on the matter.
So a minority of regressive Democrats will join with the GOP to pass a trade bill Bush loves and the public knows little about. Why is my Spidy sense tingling and telling me that I'm just not going to like this?
[A] half-dozen House Democrats with strong labor ties, watching the news conference from the back of the room, later expressed strong dissatisfaction with the process.
"The strongest voices for workers and the environment were not included" in the negotiations and were not informed of the deal, said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.
"I'm very disappointed that Speaker Pelosi held a press conference before meeting with the caucus," said Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine. "In a democratic process Democrats ought to
The AFL-CIO is "concerned that the agreement fails to adequately address issues related to the outsourcing of U.S. jobs and the ability of foreign corporations to challenge U.S. laws, among others." The Steelworkers are angry they weren't briefed and like the AFL-CIO are withholding judgment. Teamsters President Jim Hoffa is worried that the deal sells out American workers:
I am baffled as to why there is such eagerness to give this president—who is unwilling to enforce current labor and trade laws—a victory by continuing to pass more NAFTA/CAFTA-like trade models that send good-paying jobs overseas.
Stoller is concerned because the process is extremely fishy:
This is extremely problematic and dishonest of the people negotiating and announcing the details. Pelosi, Rangel, Baucus, Bush, and the New Democrats knew that they could generate a huge raft of headlines on the trade deal without actually revealing the meat of the deal, so they did so. This is pretty much how the war in Iraq was sold, how the Bankruptcy bill was sold, and how NAFTA was sold.
You can send out an email via Public Citizen to your Representative and both of your Senators saying that the aroma being given off by this plan is somewhat fetid. Democrats did not take Congress in 2006 by promising to be a new generation of K-Street beneficiaries who further enable George Bush to ransack the rights of workers, and perhaps this is one of those instances when they need to be reminded of that.