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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/15/16

Clinton's Pro-Free Trade Policies Lead to Wider Illegal Money Laundering in Panama

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Wallach: Correct. She's one of the very, very few Congressional House Democrats who have not.

DB: This is a very powerful House Democrat. Now, how can we possibly explain that? What could possibly be holding her back from this vote that would be so beneficial to all of us working and middle-class and poor people?

Wallach: Well, I think there's an interesting scenario. She's a great champion on the climate, on the environment, on human rights, and for working people, and that is what she believes in. And she has been a great champion advocate for those issues.

DB: Yeah, but this is a climate killer, isn't it?

Wallach: All of these would be severely attacked and undermined by the TPP. So, on the merits, everything she cares about is at risk. She also has a role as the leader of the Democratic Party. So often she will wait to see where the Party is going. You know, part of being a good leader is to see where your troops are. And so at the point that the TPP attacks had just come out, and there are a lot of important members, the most senior Democrat on the trade committee, a guy named Mr. Samuel Levine, was reviewing it. I can understand why she wouldn't want to get ahead of him. He's the trade expert under the House Democrats. He's come out against it. So have other members of the Democratic leadership. Xavier Becerra from California, the Chairman of the Democratic House Caucus is against it.

So now almost all the Democrats are out against it, and that is why it is mysterious and worrying ... not worrying, but disappointing, that Leader Pelosi is not leading the troops. Because there still are a couple dozen House Democrats that sort of have their finger in the wind, trying to figure out which way this is going to go. And when Leader Pelosi steps up and says, "This is the way it is going, ladies and gentlemen," those guys are going to follow her right to victory in stopping the TPP.

In the beginning I understand why she, as a leader, as a smart leader, a strategic leader, wanted to not get out way ahead of her troops. But now her troops, including the folks with the most expertise on the issue, have all gotten out against TPP and I think a lot of folks are really eager for Leader Pelosi to step up and lead to the final victory against the TPP.

DB: Should I be concerned that these problems, her resistance or others' resistance, or the flip/flops, have something to do with the extraordinary amount of money coming into Congress to have this thing pass?

Wallach: Well, I think that there is a pretty ridiculous corporate campaign for TPP because in one fell swoop every big moneyed interest gets what they want. Normally, you know, they have to have this bill for the pharmaceutical companies, and this bill for the oil, gas and mining guys, and this is the bill for the chemical guys, and this is the bill for the manufacturing companies that want to avoid liability and make it easier to leave the country, etc. Big content wants this bill, you know, Hollywood, etc. And the thing with this trade agreement is they all have it in one place. So it's like a corporate Christmas tree. And as a result you have all of those trade associations, all of those organizations, all in love within the TPP path.

So for instance, with a guy like that Ami Bera, I'm sure a lot of corporate guys are throwing money at him. Because from their perspective he's a guy who, even though he's in Sacramento, northern California, was willing to basically cross his entire political base. You had the unions who are against, the family farm groups are against, the faith groups are against, the internet freedom groups are against, the LGBT groups are against, the seniors are against, the consumer groups are against, all the people who basically got that congressman elected, the people who voted for him, he's willing to just abandon them and throw them under the bus.

And so he's going to need other supporters. So I'm sure all the agri-business, the internet, the content, Hollywood folks, and the chamber of commerce, and the big industrial companies, and the oil and gas guys are all running up there saying, "Boy, you know, we may not like what he does on this environmental thing, but boy is he going to be our guy for trade. Let's just see if we can get him re-elected." Now a lot of unions have just walked away from him and said, "We're done. We're done." Some of them have even endorsed the Republican. So I can imagine in those kind of circumstances the corporate money is flooding in trying to save those guys who betrayed everyone.

DB: Well, I've got one final question for you, Lori Wallach. When you look at this campaign do you see anything in the debates, information, people, any candidate saying things that encourage you, inspire you, seem to be the right thing in this context?

Wallach: I think it's incredibly inspiring that we're seeing a bipartisan, nationwide trade revolt against more of the same trade agreements. And that energy is part of how we can stop the TPP. But to do that folks in northern California are going to have to get Leader Pelosi to lead the House Democrats into a firm, unified "No." We're all going to need to put the pressure on all the presidential candidates to say publicly, number one, they don't support the TPP and will not move that deal towards Congress for a vote, and number two, they don't want it voted on before they get there in a lame duck session of Congress. Because they think that agreement is bad for the country.

If we can achieve those things with Leader Pelosi and with the presidential candidates, we're going to stop the TPP. And a big part of the reason why is this incredible, powerful wave of public excitement of knowing, "Hey, I'm not the only one whose life has been undermined by these bad trade agreements. Hey, they're not inevitable. They're just one way of doing ... and it ended up failed. Hey, we can do better. And united together, we will." That is the power, and it needs to get translated into our missions of Leader Pelosi's leadership and the presidential candidates doing the right thing. And then we're going to turn the corner on this.

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Dennis J Bernstein is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, a daily news magazine broadcast on Pacifica Radio. He is an award-winning investigative reporter, essayist and poet. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and (more...)

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