Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Laura Flanders: Free Trade Is Not the Answer!

01.26.11

Laura Flanders: Free Trade Is Not the Answer!

by LAURA FLANDERS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

http://blog.buzzflash.com/node/12272

(This is an adaptation of Tuesday’s F Word: the daily commentary from GRITtv.)

President Barack Obama delivered his take on the State of the Union last night and while Congress has bragged about bipartisan seating, it doesn’t matter where anyone sat because the profiteers who define what’s possible in our politics have already barred any serious solution to what ails us.

We know what the problem is: Jobs. 15 million still unemployed. A National Journal piece last week noted that the Great Recession wiped out what amounts to every U.S. job created in the 21st century. And jobs had already been leaving - for three decades.

That’s a bipartisan problem - remember who passed NAFTA, which first opened the floodgates. As a commentator with the hardly radical Hoover Institute told the Journal - Instead of reinvesting the gains of globalization in improved plants or a higher quality of life work in the US, private companies privatized the profits and hired abroad. Driving down wages.

Now while cheap production’s boosting profits again, as Heidi Shierholz reminded GRITtv yesterday, CEOs are smiling, but communities are frozen, cold as ice. And again big business is promoting trade.

Abroad: “That’s where the customers are,” the president said last week, and with a jobs-tsar like Jeffrey Immelt, the GE CEO, at his side, we’re going to hear a lot more of that.

But trade has not fixed us - it’s fouled us up. The spoils have gone to shareholders, and to spending on jobs abroad - and spending on politics - thank you, Citizens United and the U.S. Supreme Court.

As a result, government’s done nothing, neither through taxes nor through regulations. The traditional tools for evening the playing field - government regulation, economic planning, taxes - have all been turned toxic.

And while bailouts for banks are just fine, safety nets for the rest of us are trashed as socialism and waste. And in place of a community culture, those same profiteers have sold us a culture of greed and all things private - while denigrating government and all things public. (Think public workers, public spaces, public art…)

Obama is just the last in a line of Democratic presidents playing it safe, or making change small enough not to rock any powerful boat. But that’s what we’ve seen for thirty years. And playing safe hasn’t been safe at all - it’s played most Americans into a ditch.

Laura Flanders is the host and founder of GRITtv.
—————————————————–

EDITOR’S NOTE: Buzzflash.com and Trithout.org great progressive news sites completely devoted to advancing the labor movement. I urge readers here and labor activists everywhere to visit and support Buzzflash.com and Truthout.org.

Suggested Amendments to the U.S. Constitution for 2011

12.30.10

Suggested Amendments to the U.S. Constitution for 2011

It has become clear that our nation has a severely crippled political system where the will of the majority and the best interests of the nation are being ignored so a very few obscenely wealthy individuals and many international corporations can reap absurd profits. Our American democracy and way of life are under serious attack by elite, powerful forces exploiting grave weaknesses in our system of government.

In my opinion, we need to start serious discussions about how to amend our Constitution in an effort to both correct institutional weaknesses and reduce to power of excessive wealth to undermine our nation. I am suggesting that we start introducing Constitutional Amendments in our state legislatures and in Congress to encourage public debate about these problems and how to best address them.

Below the reader will find some suggestions and It is hoped by this writer that others will suggest additional ways of strengthening American democracy, restraining excessive corporate power and making our government better able to deal with the modern problems facing us in the first half of the 21st Century:

(1) Corporations shall not have the right to spend shareholder money to influence elections. Executives who are convicted of using corporate funds to influence elections shall be barred from serving as corporate officers for life and be punished as felons.
(2) Corporations chartered in the United States of America and foreign corporations with operations in the United States shall be required to have as their first mission serving the public good before the mission of maximizing returns and maximizing the dividends of shareholders. American corporations failing to serve the public good shall be dissolved or have their management replaced at the discretion of the federal courts. Foreign corporations found to be not serving the public good shall be barred from operating in the United States or selling into the American market. The restriction on offending foreign corporations shall include sales via third parties or subsidiaries.
(3) All Congressional election districts shall be required to be drawn in as competitive a manner as possible by state governments.
(4) All votes in all elections in the United States must be counted with reasonable accurately and be cast using independently verifiable methods. All vote counting must be done publicly by government agencies. Private businesses and corporations may not be permitted to fill this government function.
(5) All trade agreements between the United States and foreign nation must be approved by a majority public referendum vote of American citizens of voting age. All previous trade agreements must be approved in the above manner within 4 years of the adoption of this amendment.
(6) All imported manufactured goods must be taxed by the federal government at a minimum rate to offset the financial losses involved to American workers, businesses and governments. No trade agreement may be placed into the referendum process for approval that does offset the financial losses listed above.
(7) All citizens shall be entitled to basic healthcare at public expense. The federal government has the responsibility to provide basic healthcare to all citizens and must fund adequately this responsibility.
(8) The right of American workers to organize and bargain collectively with employers shall not be restricted by employers, Congress or governments at any level. Employers are not permitted to interfere with the election process when workers are deciding rather or not to unionize and bargain collectively. Employers who violate the unionization rights of workers shall be considered felons and punished as felons subject to punishments established by Congress.
(9) All citizens have the right to gainful employment, at hourly rates at least equal to the established minimum wage, by the federal government, if able and willing to work, during periods of excessively high periods of unemployment, unless fired by the federal government for good cause or while serving a criminal sentence. Congress shall establish a reasonable definition of excessively high unemployment rate at a level of no more than 8 percent of the total available domestic workforce.
(10) Corporate officer elections of publicly traded corporations shall be conducted by the Commerce Department of the federal government. Shareholders voting to elect the corporate officers shall vote their shares independently on the salaries and other compensation packages of the corporate offices involved. A majority of shares voted by participating shareholders must approve these compensation packages. Candidates for these corporate offices may vote their shares in the election of corporate officers but may not vote their shares in the vote on compensation.

It is time for the American nation to react to the excessive power of huge corporations to control the lives of American citizens and the institutions of our government. These proposed amendments will be fought by powerful, wealthy forces but are long overdue. We can no longer ignore the damage that a tiny elite is doing to the American nation and the American Dream.

We need a vigorous public discussion of these problems and proposed solutions. It is this writers hope that the discussion will start here and that legislators in every state will force the discussion by introducing some or all these ideas in their respective legislative bodies.

Written by Stephen Crockett (host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com) . Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email: demlabor@aol.com.

Feel free to publish or reprint in full without prior approval.

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Korea Trade Deal

12.10.10

For Immediate Release
Contact: Eddie Vale 202-637-5018

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Korea Trade Deal

December 9, 2010

For more than a decade, the labor movement, environmental groups, development advocates and others have advocated for a new trade policy that is part of a more coordinated and coherent national economic strategy. The proposed U.S.-Korea trade deal does not live up to that model and does not contribute to a sustainable global future. We believe we must move towards a more democratic, sustainable and fair global economy with broadly shared prosperity for working people around the world. Reaching that goal will require deep-seated reforms in current trade policy, as well as in our own domestic labor laws and other policies.

We welcome the tremendous efforts by the Obama administration and particularly Ambassador Ron Kirk and his team to address the urgent concerns of autoworkers and auto companies with respect to market access, safeguard provisions and some non-tariff barriers. Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin and Ranking Member Dave Camp also pressed hard for key improvements in the auto provisions, and we appreciate their strong efforts. These newly negotiated provisions will give some much needed breathing room to the auto industry, and we appreciate the hard bargaining that was necessary to win these important changes.

However, the labor movement’s concerns about the Korea trade deal go beyond the auto assembly sector to a more fundamental question about what a fairer and more balanced trade policy should look like. In particular, the labor movement has consistently and for many years argued that the investment and government procurement provisions in the Korea deal will encourage offshoring. And despite the progress made in improving the labor chapter in 2007, it is clear that in both the United States and South Korea, workers continue to face repeated challenges to their exercise of fundamental human rights on the job - especially freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively. This deal does nothing to improve or strengthen the provisions negotiated by former President George W. Bush in these crucial areas. It is essential that both countries bring their labor laws and practice fully into compliance with international standards prior to implementation of the agreement. And for American workers to benefit from trade deals, we must strengthen U.S. labor law to harmonize social activity. Going forward, we hope to work closely with the Obama administration to address all of these concerns in any future deals, particularly the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

The Korea deal also fails to address the potential problem of currency manipulation and contains lax provisions on rule of origin (allowing up to 65% foreign content in autos eligible for the lower tariff treatment, in contrast to the EU-Korea agreement, which allows only 45% foreign content) and duty drawback (which disadvantages domestic parts production). These provisions will undermine both S. Korean and American workers. There is significant opposition by many S. Korean unions to the trade agreement, as the agreement fails to address key offshoring and outsourcing issues facing S. Korea. In fact, the weak offshoring protections and rule of origin make the agreement a backdoor for increasing offshoring to China and other countries from South Korea, as well as from the United States.

We are also concerned that the trade agreement leaves open the possibility that goods produced in the North Korean free trade zone, the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), could in the future gain access to the United States. We shouldn’t leave open the possibility of including these goods for two reasons: 1) grave concerns over the atrocious labor rights record in the KIC and 2) the impact on jobs and wages of the exports of these goods ## produced at perhaps the lowest wage levels in the world.

In addition to much needed reforms in trade policy, the United States must implement a well coordinated industrial strategy that includes tax policy, infrastructure, skills development and technology investments to support a vibrant, growing and modern manufacturing sector.

The experiences of union members and working people with too many flawed trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement and China’s accession to the World Trade Organization do not justify optimism that this deal will generate the promised new jobs. We’ve seen U.S. multinational companies take advantage of the investment and other corporate protections in past trade deals to shift production offshore, while maintaining access to the U.S. consumer market and undermining the jobs, wages and bargaining power of American workers. And the results have been catastrophic, with chronic and unsustainable trade deficits that sap economic growth and domestic job creation.

So long as these agreements fall short of protecting the broad interests of American workers and their counterparts around the world in these uncertain economic times, we will oppose them.

Despite Fresh Rhetoric About Saving U.S. Manufacturing, Obama Is Quietly Pushing Failed Bush Trade Policies

08.27.10

Despite Fresh Rhetoric About Saving U.S. Manufacturing, Obama Is Quietly Pushing Failed Bush Trade Policies
By Mike Elk

AlterNet.org article link

With jobs at the forefront of every voter’s mind, President Barack Obama and key members of his administration have been publicly promoting new trade policies to make sure that U.S. companies don’t send manufacturing jobs overseas. It’s a politically and economically sound strategy—but unfortunately, it’s all talk. Behind the scenes, the administration is still pushing for the same failed Bush-era trade policies that sent millions of American jobs abroad and created global imbalances that helped fuel the financial crisis.

After witnessing the outrageous Congressional hurdles presented to Obama’s efforts to pass a jobs bill, the administration is understandably looking for an inexpensive, politically popular way to create jobs in America. Encouraging companies to make more of their goods in the United States creates jobs directly and indirectly, since additional jobs associated with the services for manufactured goods become needed. The plan also eases international capital imbalances that funneled trillions of dollars into the Wall Street casinos, making the entire global economy less susceptible to financial shocks. It also happens to poll very well, something Obama adviser Rahm Emmanuel clearly understands.

“In coming weeks, the president will expand his push to create clean-energy jobs to include more traditional industries such as automobiles and railroads.”Made in America” will become the “big theme,” Rahm Emanuel said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

The numbers on American manufacturing are grim. In October 2009, more people were officially unemployed (15.7 million) than were working in U.S. manufacturing. That hasn’t happened since the Great Depression. And much of the damage has been dealt in the past decade alone ## 5.5 million manufacturing jobs, nearly 32 percent of the U.S. total, have been lost in the United States since George W. Bush took office in 2000.

Rebuilding an economy based on manufacturing makes our society less susceptible to the risks created by Wall Street speculation, and spurs further economic activity outside of manufacturing itself. We can’t have a stable economy without a sturdy manufacturing base## without it, our prosperity is dictated by the whims of big financiers. By 2007, nearly 40 percent of U.S. corporate profits were coming from finance, leaving a feeble base to support workers when Wall Street crashed. Fortunately, for each dollar invested in manufacturing, another $1.43 of economic activity in industries linked to manufacturing is created—a multiplier effect that makes the sector an efficient way to create jobs.

There are few political slogans more popular on the left or the right than “Let’s make things in America again!” House Democrats began to talk about rolling out a massive “Making it in America” strategy after getting briefed on a poll by the Melman Group and the Alliance for American Manufacturing. The poll revealed that 74 percent of self-described Tea Party supporters would support a “national manufacturing strategy to make sure that economic, tax, labor, and trade policies in this country work together to help support manufacturing in the United States.” The top concerns of most Americans, including Tea Party supporters, is not the size of the federal budget deficit, but our relationship with China, which includes a massive trade imbalance that neither major political party is directly challenging.

After seeing this poll, Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said Democrats in Congress were eager to help revive the American manufacturing base. Nancy Pelosi then pressed the White House to adopt a more formal strategy and was seen leaving the White House with a folder labeled “Making It in America.”

So House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer consulted with the Obama team and announced a play to roll out 18-20 bills focused on promoting manufacturing in the United States. Roll Call labeled it a “Hail Mary” eager to show they can do something on jobs. It’s political gold, since Republicans will have a hard time obstructing measures strongly supported by their own political base. And the plan is cheap—it doesn’t impact the budget much, since most of the bills deal with simply re-routing government subsidies to companies that make products here, rather than paying them to companies that offshore jobs.

This program marks a complete about-face from the Obama administration’s prior stance on trade. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch said that seeing Rahm Emanuel pushing Buy America provisions put her in a state of shock. “The White House has systematically pushed back against the actual attempts by members of Congress to expand Buy America policy.” Forces in the White House are working against attempts to include Buy America legislation in clean water legislation.

But the reality is that Rahm Emmanuel has only taken the polling on manufacturing to heart, not the actual trade policies. Despite efforts by House Democrats to revive manufacturing, the White House is actively pushing the exact opposite agenda with the South Korea Trade Agreement—a deal negotiated by the Bush administration that would offshore hundreds of thousands of jobs and widen the already yawning trade deficit with Korea.

“The Made in America frame works politically,” says Wallach. “But to translate it into policy the administration needs to renegotiate the leftover Bush-era Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Panama and Colombia that the International Trade Coalition says would increase our global trade deficit and explicitly forbid Buy America preferences, not push them toward passage and stop pushing back against congressional efforts to expand Buy America government procurement rules in other areas.”

One of the primary impacts of the deal will be on the automobile industry, a struggling U.S. industry that employs half a million people. Put simply, the South Korea FTA would deal it a devastating blow. At the end of 2008, the U.S. had a $13.4 billion trade deficit with Korea, $10.5 billion of which came from the auto sector. For every car the United States exports to Korea, we import over 1,000 into the United States.

Passing the South Korea treaty would only widen that gap, because Korean companies can abuse their labor without reprise, cutting costs for executives in the process. The nation currently refuses to comply with international labor rights stated under the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Just as troubling, the proposed treaty also explicitly bans key Buy America provisions related to clean energy production—hampering American entrance into a critical new industry while boosting Korean manufacturers with some of the world’s worst labor records.

This isn’t the first time Democratic leaders have talked the talk on Making It in America while refusing to walk the walk. Bill Clinton famously campaigned against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), then aligned himself with Republicans to push NAFTA through over the objections of House Democrats. Outright lies like these have created distrust of Democrats among manufacturing workers in the Midwest. Even though the manufacturing sector is more heavily unionized than other industries, President Obama’s approval rating is 11 points lower among households were a family member is employed in manufacturing than a household where no one is employed in manufacturing.

Clinton’s NAFTA reversal didn’t just breed long-term distrust, it also had immediate political repercussions. The agreement passed in 1994, provoking a strong rebuke to Clinton from House Leaders, including then-Majority Leader Dick Gephardt. It weakened confidence in Democrats’ governing abilities by creating needless divisions within the party. Just a few months after the deal was signed, Democrats were swept out of Congress.

Obama is already facing similar divisions today. In late July, 109 Democrats wrote to President Obama asking him for a meeting. The 109 congressmen put it quite bluntly in their letter to the president what they think the treaty will do: “Implementing this pact without major changes to the text will exacerbate the U.S. trade deficit; further erode the U.S. manufacturing base; jeopardize our efforts to guard against another global economic meltdown… Moreover it is simply out of touch with what the overwhelming majority of American people want.”

There are other politically and economically sound strategies the Obama team could pursue. Instead of toeing the Bush line with South Korea, the administration could back a plan to overhaul the U.S. relationship with China—a major concern for voters of many ideological persuasions. A great entry point is Chinese currency manipulation. By tampering with the value of the yuan, China is able to effectively create huge, illegal tariffs which make Chinese goods 25-40 percent cheaper than American goods.

Democrats could divide the Republican base if they brought up a bill labeling China a currency manipulator. “Almost half the Republican caucus would vote for a bill like that,” said Alliance for American Manufacturing director Paul, who knows a thing or two about counting votes on trade issues from his days as trade adviser to House Minority Whip David Bonior.

So Obama and Democratic leaders have plenty of politically options available if they want to pursue sound trade policies to strengthen the economy. So far, however, the administration is simply performing a public head-fake, while continuing the Bush-era offshoring agenda.

Mike Elk is a third-generation union organizer and journalist whose work appears frequently in In These Times. He previously worked for Campaign for America’s Future and the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers (UE).

Is the Republican Victory Plan Another Great Depression?

07.31.10

Is the Republican Victory Plan Another Great Depression?

It seems like the Republicans in Congress have decided that sabotaging economic recovery and employment growth is their best tactic for electoral gains in the November elections. Indications of this plan have been around since the Democratic victories in 2008. It seems that all doubt about facilitating the economic downturn as a path to political power for Republicans have been removed by recent legislative votes.

Economic recessions and depressions almost always result from insufficient “effective” consumer demand for goods and services produced domestically. In economic terms, wanting something is not “effective demand” . For a want to become a demand for goods or services, it must accompany the desire to buy with the ability to actually purchase. Money is required.

Jobs are not created by just having large pools of investment money available. There must be the opportunity to invest in a business that will have customers who can buy the goods and services before the investment money flows into job creation activities. The Republican Right economic theory that economic prosperity and employment ” trickle-down from the wealthy” has proven to be unsound by historical experience.

Tax cuts for the wealthy create huge investment money pools but not jobs. Our nation has plenty of money setting idle in corporate and personal coffers. Corporations have almost a trillion dollars setting essentially idle in corporate accounts at this time.

Republicans are seeking to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy by falsely stating that increases in taxes for the upper 2% of income earners would hurt demand and prolong the economic downturn. Experience and history prove otherwise.

Tax cuts at the highest marginal incomes brackets do concentrate wealth and political power in the hands of the economic elite. The resulting political power by the economic elite pushes government policy in directions that dramatically cut the percentage of the nation’s wealth and income held by the vast majority of Americans. This reduces the ability of most Americans to buy goods and services. As a result, the economy unwinds because customers do not have enough disposable income to keep the flow of goods and services at a healthy economic level. The former middle class disposable income now controlled by the economic elite funds speculation and unsound “bubbles” in the economy instead of a healthy economy because sound businesses now lack paying customers.

Deregulation helps corporations charge excessive prices. Not enforcing anti-monopoly laws permits price gouging. Not capping interest rates concentrates wealth and reduces consumer spending. Outsourcing jobs to foreign nations reduces incomes available to buy goods and services. Union-busting keeps wages and benefits down which undermines the purchasing power of workers.

Privatizing government services costs consumers more in out of pocket expenses once provided by government. This reduces disposable income for these consumers. When employers reduce benefits and increase co-pays, it increases the cost-of-living for workers. As a result, these workers have less disposable income to spend on goods and services.

Middle class tax cuts do help the economy because they increase the disposable income of those members of society who spend the vast majority of their incomes and have little left over to save. The money changes hands over and over again instead of setting idle. This is the multiplier effect in economics.

Extending unemployment benefits has a huge multiplier effect. This is because unemployment benefits are so low that essentially all of it gets spent on goods and services immediately.

Excessive concentration of wealth and income unwinds our economy. All the Republican policies for the past 100 years have been designed to concentrate wealth and income in the hands of the very few. Every time they reach the economic concentration levels that currently exist, we have a serious depression. This is a direct result of increasingly “Republicanized” governmental policies over the previous 30 years.

Economic concentration of wealth and income are currently at levels very similar to those just before the Great Depression in 1929. The only reason our current situation has not quite deteriorated to that of the last Great Depression is that the Republicans have not been completely successful in undoing the reforms put in place as a result of the New Deal. Despite repeated attacks by Republicans our social safety net remains only damaged but not destroyed. It is not from lack of trying by Republican politicians.

Republican attempts to gut Social Security continue. Privatization keeps coming back to threaten the stability and viability of Social Security. Cutting Social Security benefits instead of increasing revenue seems to be the most effective avenue for the current attack. This approach is being pushed by most Republicans and some corporatist Democrats. A wiser economic approach would be to remove the income ceiling over which Social Security tax is not paid.

Why should almost all workers be taxed at over 13% while those making a million a year are paying closer to 1% and those making 10 million dollars a year are taxed at around 1/10th of 1% on their income? Social Security taxes are the most regressive tax system I know of in our current system. The poor and middle classes pay much, much more in percentage terms than the wealthy.

For decades, working people have been paying in far more than the current needs for each respective year of Social Security payments. These surpluses were “borrowed” by the federal government so they could fund annual deficits created by cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, cutting taxes on corporations by huge margins and nearly eliminating taxes on imports. It is only fair that corporations, wealthy Americans and foreign exporters selling in the American market pay higher taxes to fund these previous decades of “borrowing” since they reaped the benefits of that “borrowing”.

Republicans only want to look at cutting benefits instead of making Social Security taxes fairer by equalizing the Social Security tax rate for all income levels! These Republicans do not want to pay back the Social Security tax money borrowed by the federal government to fund tax cuts for the wealthy, fight two wars on credit and allow the near elimination of taxes on imports.

Sound economics says government should run surpluses in good economic times and deficits during economic downturns. Following this advice helps reduce the severity of economic cycles. Under the Republican Presidencies of Reagan and both George Bushes, we did exactly the opposite and created both the current downturn and the debt crisis. The vast majority of our total national debt developed under these three conservative Republican Presidents.

Currently, the Republicans in Congress have fought every measure to increase employment and help small businesses. They have fought all kinds of economic reforms that would curb corporate abuses of consumers, shareholders or workers. They have fought all attempts to curb excessive corporate political or economic power. They have been against any measures that would increase demand for goods and services or levels of employment.

By their actions, it is hard not to conclude that the Republicans want to worsen the economic downturn until it reaches Great Depression levels. The economic downturn was created by “Republicanizing” our economy and the Republicans want to blame the Democrats instead! With tons of corporate money behind them and a corporate dominated media helping them, it might just work.


Written by Stephen Crockett (host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com http://www.midatlanticlabor.com). Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Email: demlabor@aol.com. Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish without prior approval.

DEMS, GOP READING SAME POLL on the deficit and manufacturing

07.06.10

DEMS, GOP READING SAME POLL

House Democrats gathered on yesterday to discuss the results of a national survey on the deficit and manufacturing that House Republicans were passing around late last week. Digging into the survey, which was paid for by the Alliance for American Manufacturing and done by Dem Mark Mellman and GOPer Whit Ayers, hints at an answer to why people are so passionate about the deficit: It’s about jobs. Asking whether Congress should address the deficit or the jobless crisis, therefore, is the wrong question. Create jobs and the deficit concern goes away. Reading into the survey, you find that people relate the deficit to indebtedness to China and indebtedness to China is a proxy for American decline and the collapse of manufacturing, a huge concern among voters. About 45% of respondents said the biggest problem is that “we are too deep in debt to China,” the highest-ranking concern, 58% of folks said the U.S. is no longer the strongest economy, with China being the overwhelming alternative people identified. Three-quarters had an unfavorable view of goods made in China and 83% felt the same toward companies that set up shop there. The number one objection people had to China was the $2 trillion the country holds in U.S. debt. Asked how to improve the economy, the number one solution provided by voters was to “crack down on foreign countries who violate their trade agreements with us.” The survey: http://bit.ly/d4gv1F

Alliance for American Manufacturing Video by Baltimore Music Happenings

07.06.10

From Maurice Morales

July 6, 2010 at 8:30am

Subject: Alliance for American Manufacturing Video by Baltimore Music Happenings

- MySpace Video http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=101605682

from a rally i videotaped resently.please share www.youtube/maurice11 for more of my work

Free Trade Agreement with Korea will cost U.S. jobs

07.01.10

Free Trade Agreement with Korea will cost U.S. jobs
Robert E. Scott
July 1, 2010

The Obama administration has announced that it intends to finalize a new free trade agreement with South Korea (KORUS FTA) in time for the next G-20 summit in November. Although the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) projects this will have a small positive impact on the U.S. trade balance, and “minimal or negligible “ impact on U.S. employment, history shows that such trade deals lead to rapidly growing trade deficits and job loss in the United States.

The Charts below compare USITC’s estimates of the impact of the forthcoming free trade agreement with Korea to EPI’s own calculation. Unlike USITC’s forecast of a small positive impact, EPI’s research shows it will increase the U.S. trade deficit with Korea by about $16.7 billion, and displace about 159,000 American jobs within the first seven years after it takes effect…..

Click on this link to see charts mentioned above EPI link

Dems Could Win Tea Party Voters Over With America-First Trade Message

06.25.10

Dems Could Win Tea Party Voters Over With America-First Trade Message

By Mike Elk

In These Times article link/

A new poll contradicts the widely held belief that the the tea party movement is opposed to government action to help the economy. It shows that self-described Tea Party supporters are very much in favor of government action to revitalize America’s manufacturing base.

Seventy-four percent of self-described Tea Party Supporters would support a “national manufacturing strategy to make sure that government that economic, tax, labor, and trade policies in this country work together to help support manufacturing in the United States,” according to the poll, put out by the Mellman Group and the Alliance for American Manufacturing. Likewise, 56 percent of self-described Tea Party Supporters “favor a tariff on products imported from other countries that are cheaper because they came from a country that does not have to comply with any climate change regulations in the country where the products were made.”

The poll also shows that President Obama’s approval rating are 11 points lower among households were a family member is employed in manufacturing than a household where no one is employed in manufacturing. That underscores a trend already noted: those most affected by the Democrats’ failure to deliver on their promises of trade reform are turning against the Democratic Party.

Why? The reason is that many feel betrayed by Democrats. Government inaction during the last thirty years has destroyed the core of the American economy: manufacturing.

Such is the case in my own hometown of Westmoreland County, Pa., where the loss of manufacturing jobs turned the county from a heavily white, heavily union, heavily Democratic county into a heavily white, heavily Fox New watching, heavily Republican County.

In 1988, card-carrying ACLU member Michael Dukakis carried my home county by an 11-point margin in a year in which he won only nine states nationally. Yet in 2008 my home county voted for Republican Sen. John McCain by a 17-point margin. It turned Republicans because Democrats sold out on NAFTA, the North American Free-Trade Agreement, and thousands of manufacturing jobs disappeared.

The Republican Party has been able to keep these voters in their ranks despite the fact that Republican party is doing nothing on the trade front either. Infact, there is absolutely no mention of trade reform in the Tea Party’s official “Contract From America.” (See Roger Bybee’s great Working ITT piece on this problem for the Tea Party Movement). The Tea Party get its momentum not from an overall hatred of government, but from a hatred of government doing things that so often hurt people like unfair trade deals.

This new poll shows that the top concerns of all Americans, including Tea Party supporters, is not the federal budget deficit but that we are too deep of debt to China in terms of our trade imbalance. No major political party is championing this issue. The surprise victory of Democrat Mark Critz in John Murtha’s old district which was expected to go Republican showed that Democrats can win over Republican voters when they campaign tough on trade issues.

If President Obama really wanted to heal the words of divided nation and away from demagogues like Glenn Beck, he could do it be taking real action on trade. He could do it by fufilling his campaign pledge to renegotiate NAFTA (a pledge now considered “laughable” within the administration). Then Obama could fulfill another campaign promise by slapping tariffs on illegal Chinese currency manipulation which make Chinese goods 25-40% cheaper than American goods.

The great thing about renegotiating NAFTA and slapping tariffs on China is that by law Obama doesn’t need congressional approval to do it. He could do it unilaterally and send a huge signal to voters that he, along with those who support this policy, on the side of American workers. The president could use these steps to lay out a bold vision for an industrial policy to rebuild America.

The choice is President Obama’s - reform trade and heal the countries’ wounds or see a divided, unemployed white working class turn to voices of hate.

Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) town hall & dinner in Delaware

06.16.10

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a non-partisan partnership of leading U.S. manufacturers and the United Steelworkers.

Every citizen in the state of Delaware, the city of Newark and the surrounding region, no matter what their income, education, position, or political leaning should join us to put the critical need to rebuild a new manufacturing economy on the top of the policy agenda. Economists and the public agree that America must have high-quality jobs if we are to have long term prosperity and save America’s middle class. The solution is to rebuild our manufacturing jobs by seizing the opportunity to make green and sustainable products and meet our infrastructure needs. Now is the time, manufacturing is the solution, and you can help make it happen for our nation.

The United States has lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs in the past decade, and more than 50,000 factories have closed. Manufacturing is critical to the nation’s economic growth and our lawmakers must take action to grow good American manufacturing jobs. Together we can “Keep it Made in America.”

Executive Banquet & Conference Center
205 Executive Dr.
Newark, DE 19702

Tuesday, June 29
6:00-9:00 pm

Speakers followed by a panel discussion. Written questions will be submitted from the floor.

Complimentary Dinner Will Be Served

WHO: Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) & you
WHAT: Delaware Town Hall & free dinner
WHEN: Tuesday, June 29: 6:00-9:00
WHERE: Executive Banquet & Conference Center, 205 Executive Drive, Newark, DE 19702
WHY: “Manufacturing a Solution for America’s Economic Woes” is vital for America today and in the future!

FREE EVENT!

Please RSVP to 866-365-2203
For Information Contact: Gwen Miller 302-283-1330 or Stephen Crockett 443-907-2367.

RSVP is a must. We need an accurate count for the dinner.

Alliance for American Manufacturing Town Hall in Delaware on June 29th

06.14.10

Alliance for American Manufacturing Town Hall in Delaware on June 29th

Time: 6-9pm

Location: Plumbers & Pipefitters (UA 74) Hall
201 Executive Drive
Newark, Delaware 19702

Contacts: Gwen Miller 302-283-1330
Stephen Crockett 443-907-2367

Speakers followed by a panel discussion. Written questions taken from the floor. Representatives from labor, business, community, government and more.

I will post the list as soon as it is finalized.

All your members are invited.

Free dinner but you will need to RSVP so we get an accurate count. This is going to be a good meal.

I will post the RSVP phone number on the Mid-Atlantic Labor.com Facebook page and on the main website.

Email me at demlabor@aol.com if you want updates and a PDF of the flyer to distribute to your membership and fellow leaders.

In solidarity,

Stephen Crockett

Unionists, Environmentalists, Progressives Need to Take Over Democratic Party

06.11.10

Unionists, Environmentalists, Progressives Need to Take Over Democratic Party

It is time to purge the corporatists from the Democratic power structure. The real work of the Democratic Party is done by grassroots activists. These activists are the Democratic Party. They should run it at every level.

This conclusion has become clear in the aftermath of tainted Blanche Lincoln primary victory in Arkansas. It took massive voter disenfranchisement and the intervention of both former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama for Lincoln to squeak out a victory.

Obama still has not learned that the Obama Movement that put him in the White House was not really about Obama. It was about a set of progressive policies that constituted “change we can believe in.”

Former President Clinton started the process of going Republican-lite and selling out parts of the Democratic base around specific policy issues. Union members and American workers were shafted by the false promises surrounding “so-called free trade deals.” Poor Americans really suffered from some aspects of his welfare reform ideas. Deregulation helped create media consolidation that gave the corporations excessive control of public policy discussions and American politics.

Hilary Clinton was the driving force behind the most progressive policy goal of the Clinton Presidency which was the failed attempt at healthcare reform. America would have been a much better place if she had been President instead of Bill Clinton. One note of caution in her background was her position at one point on the Wal-Mart Board but her overall political history is solidly progressive.

President Clinton was not a bad on corporate issues as Reagan or both of the Bushes but he was pretty bad for a Democrat. He was not as bad as Senator Blanche Lincoln. Lincoln received more campaign money from Big Oil than any other Senator regardless of political party. She was the leading force in blocking the public option in healthcare reform.

Blanche Lincoln stopped the Employee Free Choice Act from even getting debated on the floor of the US Senate. She has a terrible record on trade policy, environmental protections, tax policy and deregulation. Blanche Lincoln has proven herself the most “corporatist” Senator in the relatively small “corporatist” wing of the Democratic Party.

Union activists, progressives and environmentalists are the majority of foot soldiers that go to battle for Democratic candidates at every level in every community of the nation. Along with civil rights leaders, civil libertarians, peace activists and the progressive Internet community, these activists give more money to elect Democrats than every corporation combined.

The corporations make the big donations and control the mainstream media but their values are really more Republican than Democratic. They value money over people. They value money over traditional American values. They value money over American patriotism. They value money over ethics, honesty and decency. Their values are directly at odds with the core values of the Democratic base.

We need to return to the values of FDR and the New Deal. We need to capture every Democratic Party office and drive out the corporatists. The Democratic Party is a much better institution because we drove out the Southern racist faction (and the northern one) and we need to do the same with the corporatists.

Obama needs to decide if he is going to the leader of this effort or an obstacle. If he elects to be an obstacle, he will not get a second term. If he joins in this populist effort, he might go down in history as an equal to our greatest American President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

With or without Obama, we need to take over every local Democratic Committee, every Democratic club and elect our “real Democrats” to public office. Government is not our enemy as long as it has not been captured by corporations. The US Constitution says we “the people” are the government. Corporations are not people despite the radical Right Wing Supreme Court rulings.

The Tea Party crowd has been captured and in some cases created by corporate forces. They cannot be the populist engine for “change you can believe in” but you and your friends can be that populist engine. Get angry, get active and fight corporatism regardless of political party.

Written by Stephen Crockett (host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com http://www.midatlanticlabor.com) . Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Email: demlabor@aol.com. Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish without prior approval.

In PA: Sestak has no scandal while Toomey is a walking scandal!

05.28.10

This Sestak job offer thing is a fake scandal. Pure BS designed to take the focus off Toomey. The corporate candidate Toomey would be really hurt considering everything corporations have been doing recently to destroy the American Dream. The Wall Street financial meltdown, oil destroying the Gulf of Mexico, bad trade deals destroying American jobs, crushing national debt created by tax breaks for corporations and corporate executives, etc., etc. Toomey supported all these policies and continues pushing more of the same.

We need to write letters to the Editor, blog and call talk shows to expose this ploy. Please do your part and share this message everywhere. The Pennsylvania Senate race is important!

Stephen Crockett

Host, Democratic Talk Radio
Editor, Mid-Atlantic Labor.com

Senator Specter introduces legislation that would fight against bad trade practices

05.21.10

APRIL 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Senator Specter introduces legislation that would fight against bad trade practices

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 17th- Pennsylvania Democratic United States Senator Arlen Specter has introduced legislation that seeks to help domestic manufacturers by enforcing trade remedy laws. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

“The Unfair Foreign Competition Act of 2010″ provides a private right to action for domestic manufacturers injured by illegal subsidization or dumping of foreign products into the United States. Bob Casey, (Democrat-Pennsylvania) and Sherrod Brown (Democrat-Ohio) are cosponsors.

“Joe creation and job retention in this country depend, in large part, on our ability to enforce existing trade laws. This legislation would give an injured industry the opportunity to seek reliable enforcement in federal court so that we can stop anticompetitive, predatory trade practices which steal jobs from our workers, profits from our companies, and growth from our economy,” said Mr. Specter.

The legislation would allow petitioning parties to bring a civil action in a United States district court for an injury finding in lieu of a determination by the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The legislation comes as China continues to engage in trade and market-distorting practices in violation of WTO rules and United States laws. Counties like China have ignored international trade rules, and the nation has lost countless manufacturing jobs and has a skyrocketing trade deficit.

Lessons for Obama from the Arkansas and Pennsylvania Democratic Primaries

05.19.10

Lessons for Obama from the Arkansas and Pennsylvania Democratic Primaries

The Obama White House hopefully will learn something about Obama 2008 winning coalition from the 2010 Democratic Primary Elections in Arkansas and Pennsylvania. The media needs to learn this same basic lesson. The Obama Movement was never just about Obama. It was about change… real change. While Obama gives a great speech and the Obama loves to hear him talk, they want real actions that they can believe in and they want it now!

Of course, the Obama movement is not really radical. However, it does want to see fundamental reforms in our political and economic system. The Obama White House has been unwilling to get out in front of the Obama Movement on almost every issue. Conservative and corporate forces within the Obama White House have effectively held back the pace of reforms and often have completely defeated them. The Obama Movement wants more! If they do not get more and soon then Obama will no longer be the leader of the Obama Movement.

Sestak won in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate race because labor activists and the local Democratic Party leaders did not follow Obama’s endorsement of Specter although their top leadership did. The grassroots refused. They were joined by some unions and essentially all progressive organizations at every level. Minority voters simply did not vote in large numbers. The Obama Movement effectively backed Sestak or stayed home for the most part. Obama cannot take the Obama Movement down paths outside their core values.

Specter was not the kind of leader the Obama Movement wanted. Sestak was and is a different story.

Sestak loves labor. Specter needed labor. The grassroots of the labor movement understood the difference.

Sestak wants to end needless wars and wants to curb excessive corporate power. He is certainly not anti-business but he does seem more focused on Main Street than serving Wall Street. The Republican in the race, Pat Toomey, is widely considered a complete tool of Wall Street and with good reason. Toomey effectively ran the Right Wing billionaires political entity known as the Club for Growth. He will not look good running against a tough military man with a devotion to mainstream middle class values.

I believe that Specter would have lost to Toomey. I believe Sestak will soundly defeat Toomey! Sestak is both a realist and an economic populist. He is honest and hardworking almost to a fault. The contrast with Toomey will be very clear in November.

Blanche Lincoln has voted with the Republicans often. She has blocked important legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act. Only since getting an effective Democratic challenger did she start voting more often for the kind of change desired by the Obama Movement.

Lincoln did not deserve the support of Obama based on her voting record. She still does not deserve his support in the run-off. Obama’s core supporters will hold this misplaced support against Obama for a long time to come.

Obama should have stayed out of the race in both Pennsylvania and Arkansas. The American people like and respect Obama but want Obama to act more aggressively to check excessive corporate power. Opposing progressive or reform Democratic challengers only makes Obama weaker.

The Obama Movement activists want Obama to aggressively push legislation to limit the damage from the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. Obama should push legislation requiring that all shareholders should have to approve in a vote before any money from the corporate treasury gets spent on elections or politics. Corporate executives should not be able spend corporate funds on politics if even one shareholder disagrees. The executives are spending other people’s money.

All publicly traded corporations should be required to give at least 20% of the Board of Director seats to elected representatives of their employees. Obama should push that legislation.

Obama should get out and start a nationwide voter education effort to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. It is time to make unionization elections truly democratic instead of jokes rigged in favor of corporations. Workers need a much bigger say in the economy and a bigger slice of the economic pie. Obama should support legislative limits on corporate executive salaries. Corporate executives should be removed completely from the election process for members of the Board of Directors.

Obama should push legislation to break up the largest banks, modify or repeal unfair “so-called free trade deals”, hold oil companies fully responsible for economic damages from oil spills without financial limits, appoint more aggressive regulators and judges, tax imports and start repealing decades of tax breaks for international corporations.

Every hint of going “corporate Republican-lite” upsets the Obama Movement. Obama needs to remember his base. Obama should look hard at making some staff changes and policy shifts in a more Democratic reform direction. He should compromise less with his enemies and remember his real friends.

The media should stop drinking the Republican Right “tea” kool-aid! The Tea Party Republicans are not economic populists nor anti-corporate. If Obama learns the lesson of these two elections, he can lead the Democratic Party in a real economic populist reform direction. This is what the Obama Movement wants and is the key to victory in 2010.

Written by Stephen Crockett (host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com http://www.midatlanticlabor.com) . Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email: demlabor@aol.com.

Feel free to publish or reprint at no charge without prior approval.

Senator Specter introduces legislation that would fight against bad trade practices

04.05.10

APRIL 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Senator Specter introduces legislation that would fight against bad trade practices

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 15th- Pennsylvania Democratic United States Senator Arlen Specter has introduced legislation that seeks to help domestic manufacturers by enforcing trade remedy laws. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

“The Unfair Foreign Competition Act of 2010″ provides a private right to action for domestic manufacturers injured by illegal subsidization or dumping of foreign products into the United States. Bob Casey, (Democrat-Pennsylvania) and Sherrod Brown (Democrat-Ohio) are cosponsors.

“Joe creation and job retention in this country depend, in large part, on our ability to enforce existing trade laws. This legislation would give an injured industry the opportunity to seek reliable enforcement in federal court so that we can stop anticompetitive, predatory trade practices which steal jobs from our workers, profits from our companies, and growth from our economy,” said Mr. Specter.

The legislation would allow petitioning parties to bring a civil action in a United States district court for an injury finding in lieu of a determination by the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The legislation comes as China continues to engage in trade and market-distorting practices in violation of WTO rules and United States laws. Counties like China have ignored international trade rules, and the nation has lost countless manufacturing jobs and has a skyrocketing trade deficit.

Currency Imbalances: China’s Problem or Ours?

03.13.10

Currency Imbalances: China’s Problem or Ours?

By Susan Ozawa

Leading economists gathered at an EPI event today to discuss our trade deficit and labor problems caused by our imbalance with China. The conversation centered around how this imbalance can be solved by compelling China to appreciate its currency. Leo Gerard, the President of the United Steelworkers, did address domestic strategies to approach these problems, however, the central perspective of the panel appeared to view structural imbalances as a bilateral problem to be addressed through foreign policy.

I would broaden the conversation to consider this problem a historically multilateral problem of currency coordination, exacerbated by the neoliberal model of development and highlight our role in addressing these long-standing issues in both foreign and domestic policy. The dollar has fallen significantly since the recession began however, there are different domestic strategies we should pursue to address our structural trade deficit and lack of competitiveness. Looking forward, a new Bretton Woods, particularly the establishment of an International Clearing Union should be reconsidered alongside the neoliberal model of growth and development to address the international issues underlying these imbalances.

Post continues here: http://www.ourfuture.org/stories/2010031012/currency-imbalances-china-s-problem-or-ours

EPI: Contrary to Claims, Skilled Visa Programs are Used as Source of Cheap Foreign Labor, Says New EPI Study

02.17.10

Contrary to Claims, Skilled Visa Programs are Used as Source of Cheap Foreign Labor, Says New EPI Study

Despite claims from employers that they use skilled guest worker visa programs to attract talented foreign workers and help them remain permanently in the U.S., new evidence shows the visa programs to be mainly a means to help outsource U.S. jobs or recruit cheap temporary labor.

A new Economic Policy Institute report examines the 20 U.S. employers receiving the most H-1B skilled worker visas and estimates that, on average, these employers apply for permanent residence status on behalf of just 13% of their H-1B workers. The report also examines the 20 employers receiving the most L-1 worker visas and estimates that, on average, they apply for permanent residency on behalf of just 7% of their L-1 workers. (In both visa programs, it is generally the sponsoring employer – not the worker – who is permitted to file for permanent residency on behalf of the worker).

“Proponents of expanding these visa programs argue that it’s in our national interest to attract the best and the brightest workers from around the world and to keep them here permanently,” said Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the report’s author. “But these employers are saying one thing and doing quite another. They are spinning these workers through a revolving door in order to drive down wages and help send more jobs overseas.”

For example, according to U.S. Department of Labor records, Tata Consultancy Services, ranking 4th in H-1B use in 2008, applied for permanent residence for none of the workers it brought to the U.S. on H-1B visas. IBM India, ranking 10th in H-1B use and 14th in L-1 use in 2008, applied for permanent residence for none of its H-1B or L-1 workers.

The report, Path to Skilled Permanent Immigrants or Cheap Temporary Labor?, shows how the skilled guest worker visa programs are being used as a strategy for reducing labor costs. In some cases, foreign workers are brought to the U.S. for job training by American workers. After the training, foreign workers return home and do the same work for less pay, while the American workers may be laid off. In other cases, foreign workers are brought to the U.S. temporarily to coordinate operations between the U.S. and workers in their home countries, often because they can be hired to do the job more cheaply.

According to the report, India became the source of 48% of all L-1B visas (a subset of L-1 visas) issued in 2005, up from 10% in 2002, indicating that “it is quite likely that a sizeable share, perhaps even a majority of L-1 visas, are being used to send work previously performed in America to low cost countries.”

The report found different uses of the visa programs depending on employers’ business models: businesses with a significant offshore presence in low-cost countries and those with a more modest offshore presence rely on the visa programs primarily for temporary labor, while those with a traditional business model (with most operations still in the U.S.) are more likely to sponsor temporary workers for permanent U.S. residence.

The report calls for reforms to the visa programs to ensure that they benefit U.S. and foreign workers and the U.S. economy overall. “When skilled foreign workers are needed we should rely primarily on permanent immigration to supply them,” the report says.

Background on the H-1B and L-1 Programs

The H-1B is a three year, non-immigrant visa created under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which can be renewed once for an additional three years. The visa provides employers with the opportunity to temporarily employ foreign workers who possess a bachelor’s degree. Employers must sponsor applications for permanent residence, leaving H-1B workers in a severely weakened bargaining position. The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows for intra-company transfers within multinational corporations. Unlike the H-1B, L-1 workers must only possess specialized knowledge regarding the general company operations; no higher educational degree is necessary.

About EPI

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute – or think tank – that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the United States and around the world.

Economic Policy Institute
Communications Department
1333 H Street, NW
Suite 300, East Tower
Washington, D.C. 20005

Hyperlinks

If the hyperlinks (above) don’t work, copy and paste these addresses into your browser:

Briefing Paper: http://www.epi.org/page/-/pdf/bp257.pdf

EPI Newsroom: http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/newsroom_index

Describing EPI: http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/newsroom_describing_epi

Toward A Progressive Tea Party Movement

02.12.10

Toward A Progressive Tea Party Movement

Most progressives have little respect for the Fox News generated “Tea Party” movement. However, it has tapped into a very real populist anger with the direction the country is headed in at this point in our history.

Progressives should see a real opportunity in the emergence of the “Tea Party” movement to educate the public and re-direct the anger to the real villains whose actions and policies created the many problems faced by the citizens of the United States of America. Our government has failed the American public by serving corporate interests and private profit instead of the public good.

The Republican Right has been somewhat successful in twisting this legitimate anger and aiming it against those who have been fighting this corporate takeover and corruption instead of themselves. They do this by lying to the public and twisting reality.

Of course, Fox News has been the leading force in this evil propaganda campaign. However, a few corporatist Democrats like Senator Ben Nelson, independents like Joe Lieberman and almost every elected Republican in the nation have helped advance the corporatist agenda by deceiving the reformist elements in the Tea Party movement.

Tea Party activists should realize that Fox News was formed by corporatists to advance the corporatist agenda. The corporatists have captured the “conservative” movement. They are playing their followers for suckers. A few Tea Party leaders know they are being used as a tool of the Republican Right and corporatists but most do not.

The American government is not the enemy if it is actually controlled by the American public instead of by the rich and powerful elite who make up the corporatists power structure. The American government needs to provide a check and balance against corporate power. We must recapture our government from corporate interests. This will never be done by Republicans. It will never be done by the small corporatist faction of the Democratic Party. It can be done with an alliance of progressives, real Tea Party reformers, economic populists and grassroots Democrats.

The Scott Browns and Sarah Palins of the nation only play at being populists. They act in support of the corporatist agenda while talking like reformers. Scott Brown was financed by corporatist forces. He was heavily financed by the debt collection industry, banking interests, health insurance companies and the like just like Sarah Palin. Brown opposes Wall Street reforms and regulation. He wants corporate power to go unchecked. These ideas are clearly enemies of the American public and real functional democracy. Folksy talk is just more hot air. It is actions that count.

Fox News seems designed to act as a financial and political backer of Republican Right corporatist politicians. They spin everything to defeat real reforms and undermine real reformers.

Labor unions act as a check and balance on corporate power. Fox News and the Republican Right corporatists demonize them at every opportunity. Union leaders are always elected by the membership. They are the only truly democratically-elected populist element in our economic system. The Fox News crowd calls these elected leaders “union bosses.” You do not get to elect your “boss.” Try suggesting free elections for all the management positions at your place of employment and you will probably be joining the ranks of the unemployed. Corporations are basically organized in a top down dictatorial manner. It is their nature and mindset to be dictatorial with very, very few exceptions.

Suing corporations act as a check and balance to corporate power. Fox News and the Republican Right corporatists are trying to eliminate the effectiveness of this check and balance under the disguise of “tort reform.”

Campaign finance laws slightly reduced the ability of corporations to buy elections, smear reformers and defeat reforms. While in power, the Republican Right corporatists packed all our federal courts with corporatists. This is why the Republican Right corporatists on the Supreme Court have recently overturned over 60 years of established law to give corporations unlimited power to spend shareholders’ money to advance their corporatist political goals.

Most corporations are not loyal American citizens like the recent Supreme Court ruling implies. Almost all the large corporations operating in America are international in nature. International corporations should not be controlling the American economy, the American political system or the American government. American citizens should be. No matter what the Supreme Court says, international corporations are neither people nor American citizens.

The percentage of the American economy going toward debt is growing rapidly. Why? The answer is corporate power and corporatist government policy. So-called “free trade” has failed the American public while enriching the corporatists. Tax revenue has gone in the toilet because we do not tax imports and tens of millions of former taxpayers have lost their jobs. Without good-paying jobs, these workers/taxpayers are not paying nearly as much in taxes.

Tax cuts for over 30 years have been focused on enriching the corporatists and screwing the middle classes. The Fox News and the Republican Right corporatists want you to place the blame on the poor for government debt. This is pure nonsense. Unfair tax cuts are the real villains along with corporatist “free trade” policies. Additionally, the corporatists start unnecessary wars financed by public debt that enrich the international corporations while killing and maiming American soldiers.

So-called “free trade” is undermining our national security by crushing our industrial manufacturing base and crippling our national finances.

Government spending as a percentage of our economy is excessively large mostly because our economy has not really grown the way it should because of so-called “free trade.” Free trade has not been free for American citizens. Our public and personal debts have exploded. Our wages have not grown as quickly as our cost of living. Our jobs are disappearing or have already disappeared.

Government debt to enrich international corporations instead of improving the lives of American citizens is nearly criminal. Why does Medicare money get paid to drug companies without bargaining down the price of drugs? Corporate power is the only answer.

Why do Americans pay twice as much for medical care than any industrialized nation but have worse results? Why are medical costs exploding here at the same time as millions of citizens are being kicked out of their health insurance plans? Why are our companies paying the cost of health insurance while all our foreign competitors get subsidized by government payment of healthcare costs? The answers are corporate power.

The real reformers of the Tea Party movement need to look at corporate power instead of government as the villains threatening the future of America. The Republican Right, corporatists and Fox News are threatening your civil liberties and Constitutional Right not the ACLU, Obama or the Democratic Party. Republican Right, corporatists and Fox News are those who support the “national security state”, torture, jailing citizens without trial, wiretapping without court orders, etc.

International corporate interests have much more control over the lives of the average American citizen than our government does. When the government gets captured by these corporations, like it did under George W. Bush and his allies who are still in office, the American public gets hammered!

You are not ignorant or out of touch with reality just because you watch Fox News or listen to right wing talk radio but prolonged exposure will eventually get you there. Watching only Fox News will likely stop reform supporters of the Tea Party movement from realizing that they have much more in common with progressives than they ever realized. The real reformers in the Tea Party movement and progressives should unite in a Progressive Tea Party movement. Fox News and the Republican Right corporatists should not control or define the Tea Party. Both progressives and the real reform elements in Tea Party movement should reach out to each other and make common cause on many issues.

It is time for a Progressive Tea Party movement.

Written by Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com http://www.midatlanticlabor.com).

In Trade, Too Often, the Victim is Blamed

01.18.10

In Trade, Too Often, the Victim is Blamed

by Leo W. Gerard
President, United Steelworkers International

A screwy thing happened after the United Steelworkers and eight domestic steel producers won their trade case late in December against Chinese manufacturers of the steel pipe used for oil and gas drilling.

Instead of describing it as an important victory for U.S. industry and workers, one in which they proved to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that China violated international trade rules, the media characterized it as Americans unnecessarily picking a fight with the Chinese.

What else is new? It’s exactly what happened in September when the United Steelworkers won tariffs in a trade case regarding imported Chinese tires.

What’s particularly disturbing about this stance from the media is that it occurs only when a trade case involves manufactured goods. The media strongly supports protections for copyrighted material - movies, music etc. The media have made clear they oppose Chinese piracy of intellectual property - you know, like the written and filmed products that media members produce.

But their reaction is completely different when the Chinese violate international rules regarding manufactured goods. Then, the media blame the victims ## the U.S. industries and workers - the same way defense attorneys accuse rape victims.

Here http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/03/AR2010010301961.html , for example, is the Washington Post contending that the ITC decision to impose duties of between 10.4 and 15.8 percent on Chinese pipe heightened trade hostilities between the U.S. and China:

“The current tensions began in September, when the United States imposed a staggering 35 percent import fee on tires from China.”

The Dow Jones Newswire in a story by Henry J. Pulizzi also charged the U.S. with provoking the Chinese by imposing duties, beginning with a reference to the steel pipe decision:

“The ruling adds more tension to the U.S.-China trade relationship. Ties between Washington and Beijing are already frayed by the Obama administration’s imposition of duties on Chinese tire imports and China’s criticism of U.S. moves as protectionist.”

These reporters act like the decisions themselves initiated animosity between the U.S. and China over trade. That completely disregards how the process starts - with China violating international trade rules it had agreed to obey in ways that cause U.S. businesses to collapse, factories to close, thousands of U.S. paper workers, tire workers, steelworkers and others to lose their jobs, and their communities to suffer.

We could sit back and just take it and allow U.S. industries to die, one after another, while China keeps its citizens employed by providing subsidies and supports forbidden under international law to its industries and then selling the goods in the U.S. at prices below production costs.

But that doesn’t sit well with most Americans. They believe their country should enforce trade rules. That is what U.S. industry and unions are demanding. That is what occurred in the tire and steel cases. That is what the United Steelworkers and paper manufacturers are seeking in a trade case to be heard later this year.

Demanding adherence to the rules isn’t protectionism. And the media need to stop saying it is. Here’s how Dan DiMicco, chief executive officer of Nucor, the nation’s second largest steelmaker, explained it, “It is not protectionism when countries are held accountable for the agreements and obligations they freely entered into to have access to the USA and world’s markets.”

In addition to falsely making this a protectionist fight, the media wrongly contend the tariffs were political. Dow Jones, for example, tried to make the unanimous ITC decision in the steel case political, writing:

“The ITC is an independent federal agency tasked with investigating the impact of alleged ‘dumping’ of foreign products on U.S. industries. While its six commissioners are split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, the decision fits with the Obama administration’s push to address U.S. manufacturers’ concerns about Chinese competition.”

Dow Jones implies here that somehow Obama managed to strong-arm all three Republican ITC members to vote his way in this case. None of the stories suggesting politics were involved in the tariff decisions note that Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama and nine Republican Congressmen joined dozens of Democrats in signing letters to the ITC supporting the duties.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has written that failure to enforce trade laws and compel China to stop manipulating its currency could cost the U.S. 1.4 million jobs over the next couple of years. He describes China’s behavior as mercantilist - supporting industry for export of goods to maintain high employment and trade surpluses.

He quoted economist Paul Samuelson:

“With employment less than full. . . all the debunked mercantilist arguments” - that is, claims that nations who subsidize their exports effectively steal jobs from other countries - “turn out to be valid.”

That is what China is doing to the U.S. - stealing jobs.

The U.S. doesn’t have to let it happen. America can enforce international trade laws. It works. Shortly after President Obama imposed the tire tariffs, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. announced plans to add capacity to its Findlay, Ohio plant and hire up to 100 workers. Other U.S. tire plants began recalling laid off workers.

American manufacturers, workers and communities are the victims of unfairly traded Chinese exports. They’re fed up with the media blaming them when all they’re asking for is justice.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-w-gerard/in-trade-too-often-the-vi_b_418424.html?view=print