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Alan Grayson Talks About TPP, Globalization, NAFTA and Obama

I interviewed Alan Grayson on my radio show on March 18th. The link to the podcast is here and this was originally posted to my blog,, here.

An Interview with Rep. Alan GraysonThis segment of the transcript of the interview covers our discussion of TPP and globalization trade deals. It’s not pretty.

Rob Kall: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey.  Also available on iTunes under my name, Rob Kall, K-A-L-L and at

My guest tonight is Congressman Alan Grayson. He represents Florida’s Ninth District. He has been singled out as an enemy by Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and George Will, something I am sure he’s proud of and he’s received more votes for Progressive Hero from Democracy for America than any other candidate in the country. Welcome to the show, it’s good to have you back.

Alan Graydon: Thank you very much, good to be back.

R.K.: So I’ve got a lot of questions and things I want to talk about, we’ve got a limited time. I’m going to throw a couple things at you, you kind of pick what we get in to. One, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal, TPP, what’s your take on it and the Atlantic counterpart and not just on fast tracking but the deals themselves.

A.G.: Well they take a bad situation and make it far worse. These are deals that would extend free trade status which we now have with Mexico and Canada to roughly fifty other countries and what we’ve seen over and over again with these deals is that they weaken our economy and gut the middle class. Let’s take NAFTA for instance. Before NAFTA went in to effect, the United States never had a trade deficit of a hundred and thirty five billion dollars in any time in its history.

Every single year since NAFTA went in to effect we’ve had a trade deficit of a hundred and thirty five billions dollars or more. In the last thirteen years we’ve won thirteen state trade deficits that are higher than any country that’s ever run in the history of the entire world. There’s no country that’s ever had a two hundred billion dollar trade deficit other than the United States.

We have thirteen in a row that are three hundred and fifty billion dollars or more. We’ve lost five million manufacturing jobs and roughly ten million other jobs and the middle class is being destroyed.

R.K.: Who benefits from these then? Why are they done?

A.G.: They’re done because foreigners benefit from them and multi-national corporations benefit from them. It used to be that you’d find organizations lining up against trade bills organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers which represented companies that made manufacture in the United States.

Now the National Association of Manufacturers consists largely of companies that manufacture abroad and sell in the United States. It’s sort of become the International Association of Manufacturers, if you will, and so the result of this that there’s now a very large and very powerful lobby in favor of importing rather than in favor of manufacturing. This is something that is represented in dealings with Congress quite clearly. So what’s actually happening can’t even be called free trade anymore. What’s actually happening is better described as buying and borrowing. That’s what we’ve been doing.  We’re buying and borrowing.  We are using our money to put foreigner, millions upon millions of foreigners, especially in China to work and they are turning around and rather than buying our goods and services, instead what they’re doing is they’re buying our assets and driving us deeper and deeper in to debt. Right now foreigners own ten trillion dollars of our assets, that’s roughly one-sixth of our national net worth. And they own seven trillion dollars of treasury bills and treasury bonds alone.

So they’re holding the whip hand because they’re buying virtually every asset in this country that’s worth buying. We lose twice. We lose because we lose the jobs and because we lose our wealth as well and fall deeper and deeper in to debt.

R.K.: Now Obama is really pushing for this and refuses to tell Congress or even what’s in the TPP. What are your thoughts on Obama’s advocacy for this.  Why, what is he doing?

A.G.: Well President Obama is unusually close with the corporate titans when it comes to economic issues.  I think this is true whether you’re talking about banks, whether you’re talking about computers and the internet, or for that matter whether you’re talking about trade. President Obama has rarely, if ever been an economic populist.  The result of that is he has allowed to engines of sovereign give away to continue to operate and come up with new and better ways to turn our sovereignty over to multi-national corporations and I don’t think he gets any independent advice about this at all.

He has consistency appointed at advisers on trade that represent corporate shills and, you know, the TPP has been negotiated with the help of six hundred so-called advisers who are allowed to see the information about the current text, the drafts.

Members of Congress are not involved– none of those advisers are members of Congress. None of our efforts to get unredacted copies of current drafts have been refused, I became the first one to see even the redacted copy of the current drafts last year and of those six hundred advisers, five hundred of them are corporate lobbyists. Not a single member of any environmental organization, not a single member of any labor union. The fix is in.

R.K.: So what did you see when you got your look?

A.G.: When I got my look, well first of all let me explain the circumstances.  The year before they had simply flatly refused to respond to a letter where one hundred members of Congress said “let’s see what you’re up to.”

When we contacted them they said well we can’t show you because it’s classified and I said well I’m on the Foreign Affairs Committee so your case is kind of weak here since I have to actually deal with this stuff and I expect you to bring it over. They said well it’s classified, I said I have clearance, they said well your staff doesn’t have clearance.  So if we bring it over to you, we’ll show it to you but not your staff and I said okay, alright. And then they said well if we bring it over to you we have to bring it over to you, you can’t make any copies. I said, alright, I see where this is going but let’s continue. Then they said, well if we give it to you, then you can’t discuss it with the media, you can’t discuss it with any reporters because it’s classified, I said “uh huh, alright, what else you got?” And then they said well we don’t want you to discuss it with any other members of Congress. I said, well every member of Congress has clearance for classified information. They said yeah but if you discuss it outside of a secured facility someone might read your lips.

So I said, whatever, just come on in and I’ll take a look at the thing. So they came on in and they gave me what’s called the redacted version of it, not even the real thing but a redacted version. And it was redacted to hide which countries were propounding which particular provisions.

So let’s say you were talking about a position regarding investor trade dispute resolution — that’s a provision that’s in the bill, in the draft. And by the way I am not disclosing any classified information by telling you that, that’s been wildly reported that there’s such a provision in the bill.

Well in a position like that I wouldn’t get to actually see the provision, I’d get to see what various countries had suggested to be the provision. And in addition to that I wouldn’t know which countries had made which suggestions. So that’s what they showed to me. It’s a farce.

R.K.: So even when a member of Congress gets a look they really don’t see anything?

A.G.: Right  as opposed to 500 Corporate lobbyists.

R.K.: How can any member of Congress allow fast tracking let alone vote for anything like that?

A.G.: Well the answer is that the Chamber of Commerce wants it and to some lesser degree the President wants it and that’s why it’s under consideration. I say lesser degree because the President already understands that the vast majority of the members of the Democratic Party are going to vote against it and he simply hasn’t found any way to influence them.

That’s sort of where we are at this point with regard to fast track. As of right now if the vote were out today, I’m not sure the President would get twenty democratic votes out of two hundred so we’d be ten to one against it. With regards to Republicans, Republicans are more in play because the  Republicans love the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce loves imports and a company like Walmart makes enormous profit by buying crap I guess I can use that term, right? Crap? In China and selling it to consumers in the United States and just pocketing the profits.

So basically, the Chamber of Commerce is almost exclusively lined up behind this.  Many Republicans are Chamber Republicans, they’re hoping to get the votes that way. I’m skeptical, I think that if they did put up for a vote it would lose because people recognize it’s not good for the United States.

This is part of a series consisting of three transcripts and the original MP3 of the audio podcast of the interview which you can access here.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Rob Kall

Rob Kall

see where I am publisher. is ranked by technorati as one of the top 100 blogs overall. We're a community blog/news site like firedoglake, with close to 50,000 registered members and over 110,000 articles published since 2005. I also host a radio show, Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio show and another Rob Kall Futurehealth radio show