House Democrats Defeat TPP For Now

As FDL Alum, David Dayen wrote at Salon…

The Democrats’ TPP rebellion just drew blood: Everything you need to know about today’s shocking vote

Today’s rebuke for the Obama Administration and his friends on the Republican side of the aisle on their trade agenda restores democratic accountability to the process of governing. What Obama was proposing was a trick, one used repeatedly to advance distasteful policies, by getting each side to vote only on the parts they like. And House progressives responded by saying they wouldn’t play that game anymore. If they can withstand the pressure, not only will trade be derailed, but the era of the split-vote gambit, where opponents help the victors, will be over.

Progressive Democrats took their stand on trade adjustment assistance (TAA), a separate bill to “fast track” trade authority for the President, which the Senate linked together, so that they had to pass concurrently. TAA offers modest job training, income support and health insurance assistance to workers who lose their jobs from trade deals. It’s not very effective, but it sounds good; Democrats who oppose trade deals can say that they at least got some help for workers.

TAA and fast track have passed together ever since the Trade Act of 1974. This is a Washington game where Democrats get to vote for TAA so Republicans don’t have to. Republicans don’t favor TAA because they see it as welfare.

That set up liberal Democrats as the deciding factor on whether Obama would get his fast-track trade authority. The President went to Capitol Hill to tell Democrats to “play it straight” on the vote. But voting for TAA as a sweetener for a policy most Democrats don’t support is the opposite of playing it straight. It’s a stupid game, and progressives finally decided not to play… {more}

From The Nation’s George Zornick…

…Here’s what happened: The House considered three bills Friday. One was a generally noncontroversial customs enforcement bill. Another was the actual fast-track trade-authority legislation. (You can read the case against that bill here.) And the third was a bill providing trade-adjustment assistance to workers who get screwed over by trade deals. Republicans have long detested trade-adjustment assistance as a wasteful big-government program, and Democrats were not happy with the way it was being paid for.

The way House Speaker John Boehner structured the process along with the Senate, all three bills had to pass or else the entire package would not advance. (If you’re a gambler, think of it like a three-item parlay bet.)

Progressive Democrats who oppose fast track feared it would pass with mainly Republican votes alongside a small number of Democrats, but they sensed an opportunity on the must-pass trade-assistance bill—since relatively few Republicans would back the legislation, it would be much easier to kill by withholding Democratic votes. And if trade assistance goes down, so too would fast track.

And that’s exactly what happened. Minority leader Nancy Pelosi took the floor early Friday afternoon and said that explicitly defeating trade assistance “is the only way we will be able to slow down fast track.” When the votes rolled in shortly thereafter, the trade-assistance bill failed with 302 votes against it and only 126 in favor.

It’s worth stressing here how much progressive organizing had to do with this defeat. President Obama personally appeared in Congress at the last minute Friday morning to appeal to Democrats one more time, on the heels of crashing the congressional baseball game the night before. But Pelosi and Democrats remained unswayed, and in her speech, Pelosi instead credited the work of activists holding members to a “hot stove” back home.

But fast track isn’t quite dead yet. Boehner moved on to the fast-track and customs bills anyway, both of which “passed,” though fast track only got two votes more than it needed. The package still won’t advance without trade-adjustment assistance—but Boehner scheduled a revote for Tuesday. {more}

Meanwhile, outside the Capital…

Previous post

Does Rachel Dolezal have some splainin' to do?

Next post

Late Night FDL: Days Like This




  1. Alice X
    June 12, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Actually I am inclined to think that it is to script.

    The Ds wanted the defeat of the TAA as a tactical manuever. So did the Rs for opposite reasons.

    Zero met with the Ds caucus before hand and said play it straight. They didn’t.

    They wanted to cover their asses on gutting Medicare to help displaced workers, the ones that weren’t suppose to be displaced because it is the most progressive trade bill ever.

    The Rs wanted CYA to not appear to go along with Zero.

    It Boehner didn’t know he had the votes for the TPA, he would have pulled it. As soon as it passed he called a reconsideration on the TAA. Speakers do not often do this.

    He knows what the votes are, it is in the bag.

    Pelosi was covering her ass. If she meant to defeat TSA she would have been out front.

    Instead she waited till her speech on the floor.

    Watch the Rs flip cause they want the TPP and they have an excuse.

    Watch the Ds flip cause the TSA passed anyway and they want to be seen as protecting workers.

    Call me cynical, delusional or well traveled if I am right.

    I am thoroughly tempted to head for the bar cause this is kabuki.

  2. June 12, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Obummer really pissed off the Progressives in the room this morning, Defazio was particularily hot under the collar…! I don’t think he’ll change any minds before Tuesday’s ‘reconsideration’ vote on the TAA, nor Boehner getting any of the tea baggers to change their votes…! 😉

  3. June 12, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    I’m happy, but cautious. Here is what I wrote about the announcement.
    Hey, we kind of won on #TPP, now what? “Transparency Now!” Says former lobbyist – via @spockosbrain

  4. June 12, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    BTW CTuttle. Who do I talk to about submitting a post? I had one on TPP that I thought was fun. And one before that one I think FDL would like.

  5. June 12, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Exactly, spocko…! Make the whole text available to all…!

  6. June 12, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Do you have my email or Suz’s, spocko…?

  7. Alice X
    June 12, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    I just don’t think there are many real progressives around.

    We will see. I hope you are right.

  8. June 12, 2015 at 8:59 pm
  9. June 12, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    I know Hawaii’s two house critters aren’t changing their minds…! 😉

  10. June 12, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    suz’s not yours.
    mine is spockosemail

  11. June 12, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Send her an email and she’ll forward it to me…!

    I’m heading off to work soon, but, I’d love to post it tomorrow, I’ll also try and get Kevin to give you the permissions…!

  12. Chris Maukonen
    June 12, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Besides..those grapes were probably sour any way

  13. Alice X
    June 12, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Boehner/Zero already passed the TSA – that is the mother ship – the 25 Ds were more than the whip count. There were enough Rs. How would those numbers change for the TAA? It is a sideshow.

    Gutting Medicare to give pennies to displaced workers is something the Rs could live with.

    There were 40 Ds for TAA.

    All of these reports say the Ds defeated it, it was the Rs and except for the hard core they already flipped on the TSA.

    As with TARP, at first they looked better than they were.

    This is going to hurt the D brand more than the Rs.

    So Sanders wins the nomination but doesn’t get the Plutocrat’s $$$ and the Rs win the WH.

    That’s my thoughts for now.

  14. June 12, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Reminds me of TARP

    Here’s how it goes down: R’s convinced no cuts to Medicare to pay for TAA. Pelousy caves. Fast Track a go go

  15. June 12, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Spilled bong water in mid post celebrating! Wanted to conclude the key phrase from Nancy Pelousy – SLOW Down Fast Track. Not stop it

    My guess is Pelousy and Hoyer were shocked the Progtards didn’t cave on command over a few TAA crumbs

    Obama looks like he wanted to kill Pelousy and she was absolutely shell shocked

    Worst. President. Ever

    Worst. House Speaker. Ever

  16. June 12, 2015 at 9:52 pm


    Pelousy is for TPP. make no mistake. She will have to threaten hold outs for a few beads and trinkets. She had to eat crow for this insurrection.

    Posted this on ZeroHedge

    Here’s what I gleaned from other stories:

    Peace Prize went to the Dems and was very scolding and condescending

    He said that voting out TAA to sabotage fast track was “playing politics” and reflected badly on their personal “integrity”.

    He was there for 20 minutes, scolded them for their perfidy and left without taking questions or comments

    He overreached in how he handled himself. Made it easy for the Dems to vote no.

    Pelousy had to cave. Obama made it impossible to whip the weakling Progtards into compliance

  17. June 12, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Ellison finally grew a pair apparently

  18. June 12, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Alice X:

    I divide the world in a Manichean way: Pess Optimists and Cynical Realists

    Pess optimists believe that voting matters. That people power can stop these corporate slavery bills against steep odds

    Cynical Realists know the Oligarchy decides. They rule.

    You (and I) are in the latter category

    The Oligarchy demands that these Trade Bills become law.

    To exclude BRICS nation from markets

    They will pass. Obama always wins at the last minute

  19. bsbafflesbrains
    June 12, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Agree this was not a Damascus moment by Pelosi. It’s getting interesting though. Boobus Americanus FoxPropaganda + Bernie sheepdogging a progressive emphasis could make next week fun but I think you are correct; in the end deals will be made (and fortunes) and TPP will pass.

  20. Jim
    June 12, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Short version of what happened. No one trusts obama, no one trusts the republican leadership. Hillary is quiet and no one trusts her or her husband.

  21. June 12, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Peace Prize’s lead coat tails and Hillary’s “meh” inevitability gonna make 2016 Shellacing III

    Why not sell out on “Free” Trade, retire, collect your reward as a lobbyist.

    The Gephart-Daschle gig

    Chris Dodd went straight from the Senate to the MPAA to try and get SOPA passed

  22. June 12, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    I don’t tend to read Salon and am a Nation subscriber. Was great to read David again. Still a great distiller of the complexities of our Oligarchs and their political poodles

  23. June 12, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Latest Wisconsin Poll Empress Inevitable 49 POEEI Sanders 41

  24. June 12, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Meant to reply to Jim

  25. bsbafflesbrains
    June 12, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Admin is on record saying they would make it public except for the fact that the public is too stupid to understand why it is a great deal for them. See it’s our own fault for not doing our homework and getting into Harvard or Yale.

  26. June 12, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    39 Dem quislings today. Over or under by Tuesday? I bet it doubles to 80

  27. June 12, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Jonathan Gruber lives on!

  28. bsbafflesbrains
    June 12, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Ahh Wisconsin – Come Smell Our Dairy Air!

  29. Bluedot
    June 12, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    Nice to see that but PPP has it 61% to 13%. Guess who.

  30. Bluedot
    June 12, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Where is Hillary on this? She could stop it. If she remains mum, then she loses. People won’t forget this time around.

  31. AshenLight
    June 12, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    “Today’s rebuke for the Obama Administration and his friends on the
    Republican side of the aisle on their trade agenda restores democratic
    accountability to the process of governing.” I laughed out loud reading that part. Is this supposed to be serious analysis?

  32. June 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    At the Left Forum Plenary Leo Panitch defined the restraint of the neoliberal onslaught as priority number one.

    If we’re to be honest with ourselves, and if Leo is as dead serious as I believe him to be, then we should admit that the left cannot accomplish this feat alone. Nor that it can be accomplished from within the current two corporatist party system.

    So, if left third parties cannot do it, and if the anti status quo right parties; conservatives, libertarians and tea-partiers cannot do it, then confronting neoliberalism may require third parties to call a truce and enter into a coalition arrangement under a one party banner, singularly focused on the task set forth by Leo.

    If you will, political centrism – the black heart of neoliberal power – needs to be confronted by an insurgent, populist opposition party.

    Revolution is a process.

  33. June 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Obama caucuses with the Republicans. Obama hectored his party members very condescendingly. The Dems finally showed at least some temporary resolve. What’s the problem?

  34. Alice X
    June 12, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    Hillary already called the TPP the gold standard of trade deals. She is in the bag.

    Gaius Publius/ Hillary, TPP, the World of Money, and the Center for American Progress

  35. mulp
    June 12, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    I guess the progressives have won in ensuring that only Republicans determine trade deal terms because leftist like Obama should not be allow to negotiate trade deals.

    The next Republican negotiated trade deal will be cheered by progressives as putting all the 99% on welfare as everything will be imported and nothing exported.

  36. Bluedot
    June 13, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Its all theatrics now. Everyone wants a place to hide. Maybe this gives it to them. I keep hoping they would grow a pair, but no such luck. Next week the train ride continues on. I do wonder how Hillary will justify this ???

  37. Bluedot
    June 13, 2015 at 12:12 am

    PS there’s another piece up at NK by Publius. He references a poison pill to tap medicare to pay for help to displaced workers.

  38. June 13, 2015 at 12:24 am

    Can I vote we forever call TTP, TTIP as Obamatrade?. Every bit as corporate as Obamacare.

    Maybe stigmatizing it with Obama’s rotting brand will win the day. Pess optmism!

  39. June 13, 2015 at 12:26 am

    She’ll spew forth her campaign slogan: “What difference does it make”

  40. June 13, 2015 at 12:27 am

    It only took the Progtards 6 and a half years to realize Obama rules as a Republican

  41. Alice X
    June 13, 2015 at 1:01 am

    Gutting Medicare is part of the TAA (Trade Assistance Authority) which is what was defeated. And what is being celebrated, but in my opinion very prematurely. That isn’t much of a poison pill. They did that in the Affordarble Care Act and just recently again with another bipartisan bill.

    What Obama refers to as the poison pill is an amendment in the Senate version which excludes countries that deal in human trafficking, SLAVERY. That means Malaysia. Obame wants the amendment out and the Malaysia in.

    That is generally what is meant by the poison pill. The first black president is pro slavery.

  42. Alice X
    June 13, 2015 at 1:03 am

    I don’t know, if I had a pint of brandy in me I might come up with something really nasty. But I don’t so I won’t.

    How about SlaveTrade™?

  43. Alice X
    June 13, 2015 at 1:09 am

    I like Leo but the right parties you describe are astro-turf.

    There are genuine populist elements in the so-called tea-partiers but their outlook is totally deflected. And the so-called Libertarians are bizarre.

    But you are correct, where common ground can be found, it should be used.

  44. Jim
    June 13, 2015 at 1:15 am

    obama rules as a left of center Dem. But his interests, and that of the Republican leadership are the same-and its not in America’s best interest.
    Obama was worshiped and blindly supported for the last 6 years.
    Its about time his own party realized what phony and incompetent person he really is.

  45. June 13, 2015 at 1:43 am

    I can assure you that amongst the 40% Independents there are plenty who are far more sane than liberal Democrats.

    Parties, by definition almost, become “astroturf” before too long. Some of the most virulent proponents of neoliberalism are Communist parties in Europe.

    I’m talking about anti status quo, anti neoliberalism/neoconservatism, anti kakistocracy, kleptocracy and oligarchy, fed up people whose political preferences are immaterial, long as we can identify the same foe, build a movement and express its will politically in an coalition.

    I don’t think, necessarily, that Panitch would agree with me. I’m not sure I agree with him on Greece, Syriza, and response. I simply see the oncoming madness and the center not holding, but fail to see either a populist movement (there were original Tea Partiers at Occupy, and protesting the bailout of Wall Street, and I find little bizarre about Libertarians’ demand for ending empire) or a third party clocking in a convincing percentage of members.

    I also ask myself what effect ‘divide and rule’ has on our respective perceptions of each the other. I found the third party debates on DemocracyNow potentially promising…

  46. Alice X
    June 13, 2015 at 2:09 am

    You cover a lot of ground and I don’t find a particular point to disagree.

    The Leninist/Bolsheviks readily transition to neoliberals.

    I find points of concurrence with the Libertarians. See the Chomsky link below.

    What third parties are you thinking of in the US?

    With the electoral college the duopoly has formed a lock. It was always meant to be so.

  47. June 13, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Of course, the other option is not voting at all. If, say, a “Coalition Party” were to win the popular vote but loose the election, because of the electoral system, it would create a crisis of democracy. A similar delegitimizing message would be sent if they held an election and only 10% showed up…

    In either instance the global democracy promotor, by drones, proxies and coups, would become a credibility stripped laughingstock, internationally, and domestically….????

    In terms of democracy and capitalism being incompatible, arriving at socialism is no guarantee of getting and keeping socialism.

    The Iron Law of Oligarchy

    “Michels (1911) came to the conclusion that the formal organization of bureaucracies inevitably leads to oligarchy, under which organizations originally idealistic and democratic eventually come to be dominated by a small, self-serving group of people who achieved positions of power and responsibility. This can occur in large organizations because it becomes physically impossible for everyone to get together every time a decision has to be made. Consequently, a small group is given the responsibility of making decisions. Michels believed that the people in this group would become enthralled with their elite positions and more and more inclined to make decisions that protect their power rather than represent the will of the group they are supposed to serve. In effect Michels was saying that bureaucracy and democracy do not mix. Despite any protestations and promises that they would not become like all the rest, those placed in positions of responsibility and power often come to believe that they too are indispensable, and more knowledgeable than those they serve. As time goes on, they become further removed from the rank and file…

    “The Iron Law of Oligarchy suggests that organizations wishing to avoid
    oligarchy should take a number of precautionary steps. They should make sure that the rank and file remain active in the organization and that the leaders not be granted absolute control of a centralized administration. As long as there are open lines of communication and shared decision making between the leaders and the rank and file, an oligarchy cannot easilydevelop.

    “Clearly, the problems of oligarchy, of the bureaucratic depersonalization described by Weber, and of personal alienation all are interrelated. If individuals are deprived of the power to make decisions that affect their lives in many or even most of the areas that are important to them, withdrawal into narrow ritualism (overconformity to rules) and apathy are likely responses. Such withdrawals seemed to constitute a chronic condition in some of the highly centralized socialist countries. However, there are many signs of public apathy in the United States, too. For example, in 1964 about 70 percent of those eligible to vote for president did so. In each of the succeeding national elections this figure has dropped, and in 1988 it was only 50 percent.”

  48. Screwtape
    June 13, 2015 at 8:29 am

    I’d like to be a fly on the wall, observing and listening to the threats and Bons Bons bandied about until Tuesday. The system, at work.

    The numbers do seem virtually insurmountable though. If it does go down again, as expected, I wonder what the next “legacy” patch will be, cooked up to take its place.

  49. Maudite Balvenie
    June 13, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Sorry but if he were left of center Dem he would be Warren or Sanders.

  50. June 13, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Correct. Thus why Pelousy couldn’t whip the Dems. If the R’s “hold their nose” and don’t insist on Medicare cuts to offset TAA, the resolve on the Dems crumbles

    But seriously: you are admitting upfront that Americans lose their jobs bc of this. What kind of trade bill is that? How can any Dem support more working people out of work for any reason?

    United State of Oigarchy. Winners are few, losers are many

    These bills pass plus Obamacare premium notices Sept. 2016. Dems will be pulverized in Nov.

  51. Alice X
    June 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Thank you for the Michels piece, I have read your copy here and downloaded from the link. Curious elsewhere that he is described as a socialist who became a fascist.

    In the front page (and I will read more) what he was saying is not new. It was the central thesis of the anarchists, or social libertarians as they are also known, Michel Bakunin to start.

    The thesis of oligarchy goes way back, Aristotle and wealth. Michel I think is describing it in a somewhat different way.

    He uses the terms responsibility and power.

    I use the terms authority and power. Authority is legitimized by democracy, the consent of the governed. This he says.

    If not it becomes authoritarian, by definition.

    Power comes from the barrel of a gun Mao.

    Authority and power are intertwined vested in the state with a monopoly on violence.

    So I find resonance in what he is saying, but again, it is also said elsewhere.

    Some other points:

    If, say, a “Coalition Party” were to win the popular vote but loose the election, because of the electoral system, it would create a crisis of democracy.

    We have seen that four times in our system, 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000. Off the top of my head.

    The term crisis in democracy is a term used by elites to indicate that we are having too much democracy.

    Coalition parties, that is what we have had. The Republicans started as a coalition of 1) those against slavery in principle but they would tolerate its existence if its territorial growth was stopped – 2) abolitionists who wanted slavery abolished in law. IE legal equality. – 3) Abolitionists who wanted equality in law and practice. Lincoln was from the first group. The Radical Republicans were from the third group. Corruption and big business overcame them.

    The Democrats who consisted of the southern and northern components. The southern component had overseen the Indian removal act which set the stage for the deep south. They were split with the Civil War, re-united but then overtaken by big business. The populists of the 1880s joined with them and disappeared.

    The progressive wing of the Republicans joined with TR in his Progressive Party. He was a trust buster except when they were trusts he liked, like US Steel. He was an imperialist but he raised important issues. He lost in 1912.

    Wilson won, William Jennings Bryan the populist and former presidential candidate was a pacifist and anti-imperialist. He became Wilson’s secretary of state but resigned as Wilson violated both principles.

    The populists disappeared into the Democrats.

    The progressives mostly rejoined the Republicans but never again had a voice.
    They joined with the Democrats in FDR’s New Deal coalition. The Big Business element was still there. FDR oversaw reform but not revolution. He saved capitalism. The Wagner Act brought the US dramatically forward in labor law. The labor movement was absorbed. The Democratic Socialists joined after the war and were absorbed. The Civil Rights movement joined and was absorbed. The racist southern democrats bolted and joined the Republicans in their southern strategy, they still hold forth, but is astroturf.

    The Democratic Party is the primary one where the social movements go to die.

    I know some history, I know some questions.

    I am less sure of the answers

  52. Tom Burl Walsh
    June 13, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I agree about the “slow down” remark. That stood out more than anything to me. Let’s make a deal!

  53. June 13, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Michaels described the process by which parties become corrupted even when the representatives are drawn from the working class itself.

    Once a professional political class comes into existence one might as well kiss democracy good bye.

    I don’t think anyone can be expected to have answers, but unless we start actively discussing, debating and engaging in dialogue, all that we will be doing is chasing and commenting on variants of the same old same…

  54. June 15, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    This is indeed true. People across the political spectrum are angered by the current, corporatist state of the economy but have been lured to the “acceptable” center-left and center-right. Our real enemies are not “right wing Christian crazies”, as AlterNet and other center-left sites so often suggest, but the “kinder, gentler capitalism” practiced in some respect by both major parties.

  55. June 15, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    just make it clear that TAA is not for US.