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Democrats Pick Adam Smith over Barack Obama in Blocking Trans-Pacific Partnership Fast Track

The populist Warren-Sanders wing of the Democratic Party beat the pro-capitalist Obama-Clinton wing yesterday, uniting 44 out of 45 Senate Democrats to shut down the President’s request to fast-track the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Senator Warren tells us why this vote is a stand for workers against our corporate overlords:

“We can’t keep pushing through trade deals that benefit multinational companies at the expense of workers,” she added, with theatrical urgency. “Government cannot continue to be the captive of the rich and powerful. Working people cannot be forced to give up more and more as they get squeezed harder and harder.”

Warren masterfully undermined the trade bill, by highlighting the administration’s obsessive secrecy (the details of the proposed agreement are classified) and the role of corporate interests in drafting the deal (500 non-government advisors participated, she said, 85 percent of them industry executives or lobbyists).

“And now this trade deal is getting the full court lobbying press from those same giant multinational corporations,” she said. “The middle class is on the ropes and now is the time to fight back” [Dana Milbank, “Democrats Hand Obama a Stinging Defeat on Trade Deal,” Washington Post, 2015.05.12].

Memo to South Dakota’s right wingnuts: South Dakota’s Republican Senators John Thune and M. Michael Rounds are now advocating passionately for President Barack Obama’s globalist agenda. Tea Party, if you’re still out there, if you’re voting for liberty, you’re voting for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

I won’t get into the economics of the TPP, but I will yield the floor to Augustana economist Reynold Nesiba, who himself yields the floor to the father of modern economics, Adam Smith, to help us understand why the Warren-Sanders wing is right to fight TPP:

The Democratic-wing of the Democratic party is back in control of the Democratic Party. This is progress…of a progressive kind. I suppose if one likes to vote on bills negotiated behind closed doors, written primarily by corporate interests, and whose content is “classified,” this is a defeat. But not very many of us want that.

I suspect Adam Smith, the great 18th century moral philosopher himself, would be on the side of Sanders and Warren on this one. As Smith says in the Wealth of Nations regarding the merchants, manufacturers and dealers:

The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.

Smith may favor free trade, but he does not trust capitalists and their manipulation of government in their own favor. (Page 200 of the free pdf available at in case you don’t believe me.) [Reynold Nesiba, Facebook post, 2015.05.12]

The interests of big business are not synonymous with the interests of the public—that’s straight from Adam Smith. if you’re looking for the party of a free market that makes everyone free, you’ve found it in the Warren-Sanders Democrats.


  1. mike from iowa 2015-05-13 07:35

    Halle-freakin’-lujah! Dems do have a spine. Vote for Bernie in 2016.

  2. Steve Hickey 2015-05-13 08:05

    Reynold hits the nail on the head on this one.

  3. Steve Hickey 2015-05-13 08:38

    And Warren even more so is spot on here.

  4. Rorschach 2015-05-13 10:08

    Sen. Warren, if she runs, will be the first female President. I expect she will run, and nobody’s going to (convincingly) accuse her of being President Obama’s 3rd term.

    Sad to say, but as much as I like President Clinton I just think Hillary is untrustworthy. Still I’d rather have her as President than any of the Republicans in the race. I’m intrigued by Jon Huntsman.

  5. Roger Elgersma 2015-05-13 10:15

    So now at least the dems in Congress might see their opinion polls go up.

  6. larry kurtz 2015-05-13 10:59

    57% of voters nationally have no opinion about the Trans Pacific Partnership— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) May 12, 2015

  7. Les 2015-05-13 11:09

    57% of the voters have many opinions with little if any knowledge attached, Larry.

  8. Les 2015-05-13 11:12

    Warren/Sanders could get me to cross the street against anything I’ve seen so far. Sanders alone doesn’t have a prayer.

  9. larry kurtz 2015-05-13 11:22

    True all dat, Les but think about a broader national ticket. A Sanders/Polis ticket would be fun as would Warren/Castro but but in all reality with whom should Hillary run?

  10. larry kurtz 2015-05-13 11:26

    Jeb is sliding.

    Rubio and Walker are each first or second choice of 28% of GOP voters. Carson at 23%, Huckabee at 22% also over 20%:— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) May 13, 2015

  11. Les 2015-05-13 11:34

    Hillary has a chance with Palin as veep. The GOP would run with that knowing Hillary’s weak heart was their only way back into power. Othernn that Hillary is burnt toast.

  12. larry kurtz 2015-05-13 11:35

    Clinton/Franken would be unbeatable, Les.

  13. Les 2015-05-13 11:48

    If you think we’ve seen anything on the Clintons so far, put a few gop Billion on teevee, Lar. I’d put a deceased George Carlin in the white house before Al Franken.

    Fighting wars for peace is like screwing for virginity.(tm)GC

  14. larry kurtz 2015-05-13 11:54

    Did you read the PPP findings, Les? Clinton is a shoo-in: all she has to do is find a running mate who captures the votes she wouldn’t get otherwise. With whom should she run?

  15. mike from iowa 2015-05-13 12:15

    Wingnuts could win with a gay rethuglican,but then they’d have to accept gayness as reality and not a lifestyle choice.

    instead of a choice.

  16. Rorschach 2015-05-13 12:28

    I can’t believe that anybody but Rubio thinks of him as presidential material. He’s just some schmuck on a billionaire car dealer’s payroll.

    Hillary should have Democratic Party rules changed so she can put Wall Street on her ticket as VP. Barring that, she will choose a VP who is either female, Hispanic, or both. Always the calculating one, Hillary.

  17. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-05-13 22:35

    The worst thing about TPP is that big corporations can override US law.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-05-14 06:25

    R: Huntsman? Is he thinking about it again? As a citizen, I hope so, as he’d be the only trustworthy and sane candidate in the GOP field. As a Democrat, I hope not, because he could draw Indy and Dem voters in a way that none of the current GOP field can.

    Huntsman would still clash with Warren on TPP. He supported TPP during his 2012 campaign. He’s now chairman of the Atlantic Council, which advocates big and bad for TPP.

    Ah, but Huntsman said last October he’s done running for public office.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-05-14 06:29

    I pose the question how much has Obama’s running mate mattered, and would Clinton’s running mate matter any more or less?

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-05-14 06:37

    To elaborate on Deb’s comment about TPP allowing multinational corporations to override U.S. law, we turn to Senator Warren on the “Investor-State Dispute Settlement Clause“:

    SDS would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws — and potentially to pick up huge payouts from taxpayers — without ever stepping foot in a U.S. court. Here’s how it would work. Imagine that the United States bans a toxic chemical that is often added to gasoline because of its health and environmental consequences. If a foreign company that makes the toxic chemical opposes the law, it would normally have to challenge it in a U.S. court. But with ISDS, the company could skip the U.S. courts and go before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company won, the ruling couldn’t be challenged in U.S. courts, and the arbitration panel could require American taxpayers to cough up millions — and even billions — of dollars in damages.

    If that seems shocking, buckle your seat belt. ISDS could lead to gigantic fines, but it wouldn’t employ independent judges. Instead, highly paid corporate lawyers would go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next. Maybe that makes sense in an arbitration between two corporations, but not in cases between corporations and governments. If you’re a lawyer looking to maintain or attract high-paying corporate clients, how likely are you to rule against those corporations when it’s your turn in the judge’s seat? [Senator Elizabeth Warren, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership Clause Everyone Should Oppose,” Washington Post, 2015.02.25]

    Tea Partiers concerned about the Constitution and sovereignty should be all about Warren.

  21. Nick Nemec 2015-05-14 08:42

    Presidential running mates make little difference in people’s decision at the ballot box. The one place where they might make a difference is in the case of an extremely unqualified, bat shit crazy, loudmouth running mate like Sarah Palin. In those cases they would be an overall negative for the campaign, and actually drive people away.

  22. Daniel Buresh 2015-05-14 08:57

    My favorite comment:

    “Warren is a hypocrite and a pretty bad one. She’s perfectly fine allowing Obama and the U.S. to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran without any influence from congress because she knows, in that instance, you can’t have a thousand voices at the table from congress dictating what should and shouldn’t go into the deal, and yet opposes essentially the same move on trade. Pretty incredulous.
    She either trusts Obama or she doesn’t but there really is no middle ground here. You can’t be fine with secret nuclear deals that leave congress out of the loop and get your panties in a bunch the second the President takes the same approach when it comes to trade.
    It’s laughable listening to her, and other liberals, defend Obama on Iran by saying it would be way too much an issue to allow the congress to debate and change certain parts of a deal agreed upon with other nations and essentially call for the same thing here, which makes any negotiation impossible to begin with.
    She either believes the president has the power or doesn’t. But this playing different sides on this issue is just as pathetic as the shit the Republicans played with Iran.
    Interestingly, though, that you didn’t once hear her question Obama’s motives for secret negotiations then and demanding congress see what we’re agreeing to and then being allowed to vote on it.”

  23. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-05-14 14:51

    Daniel, I think the comment you quoted is mixing apples and oranges. A nuclear deal is an entirely different critter than a trade deal, and the quote’s either/or scenario doesn’t fit. There is just no correlation between a nuclear arms deal, which must be of utmost importance, and a trade deal about commerce.

    I agree with Cory that the tea baggers and strict constructionists ought to be all over this deal since it will diminish American sovereignty as written. Obama and others have spoken very reassuringly about safeguards built into the agreement which are claimed to protect American workers and sovereignty. We should not be reassured because these agreements in earlier measures such as NAFTA have not been enforced.

    I find it frustrating that some proponents try to diminish opponents by saying we are simply still mad about NAFTA. Yes, I am angry about the deception involved there, and I am opposed to TPP because I am able to learn from the past. NAFTA was very bad for American working people, even though the Bill Clinton administration assured us it would not be.

    Ross Perot was right about one thing: There was a giant sucking sound of jobs leaving this country and we did enter into a race to the bottom for wages and benefits. However, it was a tremendous boon for the 1%.

  24. Roger Cornelius 2015-05-14 18:28

    Agreed, I don’t know exactly why Daniel threw in the Iran deal on the trade agreement other than to say that is a way for republicans to muddy the waters. Throw everything you have at the trade deal, whether it is relevant or not, and hope to hell it will stick. I think its a republican thing.
    Today Congress voted to make themselves a part of the Iran nuclear treaty, it was done for one simple reason, republicans want to diminish the President’s authority and make him appear weak. Here’s hoping his veto pen is filled with ink.

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