Moments ago, the passage of "Obamatrade" was assured when in 60-38 vote, the Senate cleared the "fast track" passage of the TPP also known as the Trans Promotion Authority with no votes to spare, ending the president's long struggle to lift the measure out of the political quicksand that repeatedly came close to trapping it in both chambers.
There was much drama, even more theater, but in the end the lobbying corporations which we laid out previously in the chart below, won. We are still shocked at how cheap it costs them to buy both the senate and the house.
The details are well known to most but for anyone unfamiliar here is the WSJ with a simple recap: the legislation will give Obama “fast track” authority that allows him to submit trade deals to Congress for an up-or-down vote without amendments. Negotiators have said that process is crucial to completing the 12-nation trade deal with countries around the Pacific Ocean, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“My standard for any trade agreement is that it must create good-paying 21st century jobs, increase the paychecks of American workers, and it must do so recognizing the relationship between commerce and climate,” Mrs. Pelosi wrote.
Already approved by the House, the bill now heads to the White House for Mr. Obama’s signature. Its passage delivers a rare legislative victory for the second-term president whose agenda has largely stalled in a Congress now fully controlled by Republicans.
Wednesday’s vote capped a fitful campaign that joined the White House, top GOP leaders and centrist Democrats to push through Congress legislation that both ends of the political spectrum opposed. Liberals viewed expanded trade as detrimental to U.S. jobs, while conservative members didn’t want to expand Mr. Obama’s authority.
“We had plenty of bumps along the road. Frankly, a few big potholes too,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “But we worked across the aisle to get through all of them.”
Critics of the Pacific trade deal said Wednesday’s vote would diminish lawmakers’ ability to shape a better trade deal when it comes before Congress.
“This body should not give up its authority to make better trade agreements,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “We’ve seen big promises and bad results on trade issue after trade issue after trade issue after trade issue.”
Supporters said the bill would boost the U.S. economy by clearing a path for a trade deal with 11 other countries, representing about 40% of global gross domestic product.
It won't, in fact it will eliminate even more lower-paying jobs and eviscerate what little is left of America's lower middle class. However, as it leads to job losses it will provide the US big pharma, who were revealed as some of the largest backers behind the TPP, with several more years of record profits even as the cost of medicines around the globe skyrockets.
What is perhaps most surprising is who the decisive vote came from for yesterday's cloture vote on TPP. As George Rasley reports, it was none other than GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio's vote during Tuesday's Senate vote that was decisive:
Yesterday’s procedural vote in the Republican-controlled Senate to give Obama Trade Promotion Authority, or “fast track” as it used to be called, passed by just one vote – that of Florida’s Republican Senator and presidential aspirant Marco Rubio.
Why did Rubio vote to give Obama more power? No one knows for certain, but Senator Jeff Sessions, in a statement released after the vote shared some insight into the dynamics of what went on on Capitol Hill prior to the vote.
“Americans increasingly believe that their country isn’t serving its own citizens. They need look no further than a bipartisan vote of Congress that will transfer congressional power to the Executive Branch and, in turn, to a transnational Pacific Union and the global interests who will help write its rules.
"The same routine plays out over and again. We are told a massive bill must be passed, all the business lobbyists and leaders tell how grand it will be, but that it must be rushed through before the voters spoil the plan. As with Obamacare and the Gang of Eight, the politicians meet with the consultants to craft the talking points—not based on what the bill actually does, but what they hope people will believe it does. And when ordinary Americans who never asked for the plan, who don’t want the plan, who want no part of the plan, resist, they are scorned, mocked, and heaped with condescension.
"Washington broke arms and heads to get that 60th vote—not one to spare—to impose on the American people a plan which imperils their jobs, wages, and control over their own affairs. It is remarkable that so much energy has been expended on advancing the things Americans oppose, and preventing the things Americans want.
"For instance: thousands of loyal Americans have been laid off and forced to train the foreign workers brought in to fill their jobs—at Disney, at Southern California Edison, across the country. Does Washington rush to their defense? No, the politicians and the lobbyists rush to move legislation that would double or triple the very program responsible for replacing them"
Where were those Disney workers located you might ask? Why in Marco Rubio’s home state of Florida, where some 250 Orlando-based workers were not only let go and replaced by cheaper (and younger) foreign workers – they were also required to train their foreign worker replacements.
"I just couldn't believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly," one former worker, who wasn't named and is now unemployed, told The New York Times. "It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can't grasp it."
Cost efficiency in a globalized economy some may say, and they could well be right; however in an economy as depressed as the US is, fabricated stock market gains aside, the last thing the fraying fabric of social stability needs is millions more laid off even with the BLS's best double, triple, and quadruple seasonally-adjusted intentions to mask the underlying reality.
* * *
And while Sessions understandably laments the failure of US democracy once again, and the encroaching fascism of the deep (police) state, corporations promptly came out to gloat.
Here are some examples:
Cargill applauds the passage of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill in the U.S. Congress. This bipartisan bill gives the executive branch the ability to negotiate trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which are important for the future of the U.S. economy and for global food security. The U.S. economy and the world's food supplies rely on international trade. Trade supports one in five U.S. jobs, including nearly 1 million farmers and agricultural workers who produce exports that supply the world with high-quality and affordable food
MetLife, Inc. applauds action by both the House and the Senate to renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation. The final congressional approval of TPA provides a path forward for the pending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is critical to U.S. companies doing business in the Asia-Pacific region. The trade agreements facilitated by TPA will encourage access to the financial protection and other life insurance products that are in growing demand globally.
The Association of Global Automakers:
On behalf of the more than 97,000 Americans our member companies employ, Global Automakers thanks all of the U.S. Senators and Representatives who supported Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation.
Trade Promotion Authority is an important tool that will facilitate the negotiation of future trade agreements and help set the United States on a course toward sustained economic growth. Open trade and investment policies have encouraged international automakers to put down deep roots in the United States. These companies are driving the growth of the U.S. auto industry through job creation, manufacturing revitalization, and local research, design, sales and finance operations. Today, our members are creating products here for sale locally and around the globe, exporting 480,000 vehicles annually from the United States. Global Automakers appreciates President Obama's leadership on this critical issue and looks forward to seeing TPA legislation signed into law as soon as possible.
The Association of Global Automakers represents international motor vehicle manufacturers, original equipment suppliers, and other automotive-related trade associations. Our members include American Honda Motor Co., Aston Martin Lagonda of North America, Inc., Ferrari North America, Inc., Hyundai Motor America, Isuzu Motors America, Inc., Kia Motors America, Inc., Maserati North America, Inc., McLaren Automotive Ltd., Nissan North America, Inc., Subaru of America, Inc., Suzuki Motor of America, Inc., and Toyota Motor North America
The National Retail Federation
The National Retail Federation issued the following statement from President and CEO Matthew Shay on today’s Senate passage of Trade Promotion Authority:
“This is a landmark step toward tearing down trade barriers that stand in the way of a truly free and open global economy. TPA will help complete trade agreements that will open new markets for U.S. companies and help retailers provide American families with the products they need at prices they can afford. This will ultimately mean more jobs for American workers and lower prices for American consumers. After weeks of partisanship, it’s refreshing to see Congress finally put good policy ahead of politics.”
The Retail Industry Leaders Association
The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) issued the following statement in response to the passage of Trade Promotion Authority in the United States Senate.
Retailers applaud the Senate for approving Trade Promotion Authority and paving the way to economic growth by providing American consumers and businesses with access to new markets,” said Hun Quach, Vice President for International Trade. “With its final approval from Congress, TPA will now ensure the Administration brings home trade agreements that create new opportunities for American businesses and bolsters U.S. competitiveness around the world.”
And so on: press releases are cheap - each one costs at most 2-3 newly redundant workers.
Finally, for those curious what today's Senate roll call was, it is shown below. The most amusing thing: after voting Yes on the yesterday's just as critical cloture vote, Rubio decided not to vote today. So how did the GOP get the required 60 votes? They had Corker, who did not vote yesterday, step in for Rubio who can now tell the public one of two stories: that he [voted|did not vote] for the TPA... depending on who the audience is.