Afternoon Open Thread: Trade Off Back On

It’s baaaaaack.

To recap, the version of the TPP fast track authority with worker protections that passed the Senate was blocked in the House by Democrats. The version without worker protections has now passed the House and is headed back to the Senate.

Fun times.

Open thread.

63 replies
  1. 1
    C.V. Danes says:

    This reminds me that the problem is not that the electorate is not left-leaning. They are. They just don’t trust the Democrats to represent them. I wonder why.

  2. 2
    Betty Cracker says:

    I thought the TPA (fast track) passed the House last week but TAA (worker protections that were already in place but allowed to expire) was blocked by House Dems as a procedural move to kill TPA, since TPA without TAA was a non-starter in the Senate. Why would the Senate pass this latest standalone TPA that doesn’t restore worker protection funding?

    I’ll reiterate my prediction: TPP will pass eventually. The corporations want it, and the Republicans control Congress, so it will pass.

    ETA: What will probably happen now is that Congress will reinsert the TAA protections — which were a preexisting band-aid that was allowed to expire — and pretend that’s some magnanimous concession to labor concerns. Then it will pass.

  3. 3
    Napoleon says:

    So who were the Dem traitors?

  4. 4
    Punchy says:

    This is clearly an attack on religious liberty and christian workers in general.

    Obama is clearly the terrorist who will stop at nothing until the TPP is SOP with OPP ASAP.

  5. 5
    Joseph Nobles says:

    The rule governing floor debate last week said that TPA could only advance if TAA did. TPA was passed, but TAA blocked.

    This week, the rule governing floor debate said TPA could advance if passed alone. It did. So it goes to the Senate for one more vote there.

  6. 6
    Knowbody says:

    So this dies screaming in the Senate and is never heard from again.

    If Obama signs this, Democrats lose in 2016.

  7. 7
    Hal says:

    Breathlessly awaiting ny times bio on how the sc shooter is an intelligent, quiet kid gone wrong.

  8. 8
    burnspbesq says:

    There will be no Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates in Texas. So saith the Supremes.

  9. 9
    Amir Khalid says:

    I don’t know about that. I tend not to trust your political analysis.

  10. 10
    Betty Cracker says:

    @burnspbesq: Do you think the ruling that specialty plates constitute government speech will affect political messages on other specialty plates? In FL, there’s a “Choose Life” specialty plate option.

  11. 11
    Keith G says:

    In the very best news I heard this morning, and actually all of this week, President Barack Obama will be sitting in Marc Maron’s garage and be interviewed by Marc Maron. The interview will be posted Monday morning at Marc Maron’s WTF website.

    Maron is perhaps the best interviewer working these days. I am looking so forward to the conversation between these two.

  12. 12
    Brachiator says:

    @Betty Cracker: from one news story on the case.

    The decision is likely to affect specialty license plate programs in other states including a circuit split below concerning “Choose Life” plates concerning the issue of abortion.

    “Many other states have similar specialty license plate programs, and today’s decision gives these states the power to control what messages it will permit on these plates,” says Mary Rose Papandrea of Boston College Law school.

  13. 13

    Obama forced this; the Democratic party owns it. This will hurt in the long run.

  14. 14
    p.a. says:

    Like the protections were going to be enforced…

  15. 15
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    Jeebus wept.

    This is about nothing more (& nothing less) than providing “our” Corpitalist Oligarchs new resources for the death struggle with “their” Neo-Soviet-Authoritarian Oligarchs for control of the planet. And the people be damned.

    E.g., consider the “wars of religion” that devastated most of Central Europe in the 16th-17th centuries: Every time an authentic people’s movement arose out of the general mayhem, the bickering nobles would call a truce & combine to kick the living snot out of the upstarts, making sure to murder the leaders & anyone close to them–& then resume their “religious” brouhaha..

    Welcome to the dawn of the Corpitolibertarian Ages, kids. Remember to bow your heads, avert your eyes, & cringe respectfully whenever the 0.01% swagger past. (Can you say Cuius corrupto, eius commercio? I knew you could….)

  16. 16
    cahuenga says:

    When ‘centrist’ establishment democrats and establishment wingers agree… Watchout!

    Thanks Obankster!

  17. 17
    Botsplainer says:

    Clearly, the prior defeat of the bill WITH worker protection was a great triumph of Our Progressive Betters.

  18. 18
    cahuenga says:


    And Obama promises, promises, PROMISES not to sign TPP without TAA.

    Double pinky-swear(!)

  19. 19
    Tripod says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    brooklynbadboy over at the GOS has an accurate assessment – there are a number of Republicans who voted against that will flip w/o the TAA provision, and pro-trade Democrats already own the first vote, so there’s no point in flopping…

  20. 20
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    The holdouts just needed to have their wheels greaseda little more, getting what they paid for now

  21. 21
    Eljai says:

    @Keith G: That is amazing. I’m so looking forward to that! I love to binge-listen to Maron’s podcasts on the weekends.

  22. 22

    @Tripod: A nuanced application of Cleek’s Law?

  23. 23
    Tommy says:

    I said here I thought NAFTA was a good idea and I was so wrong. The Snap-on plant that my grandfather and uncle worked at closed soon after and was moved to Mexico. I kid you not they not only closed the plant they recycled the darn concrete and just left a huge hole in the ground.

    My grandfather was retired at the time but my uncle was a ISO 9000 engineer and now drives four hours a day to a job.

    I don’t think this is going to end well for American workers!

  24. 24
    Cervantes says:


    There will be no Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates in Texas. So saith the Supremes.

    Not exactly. What they said was that Texas can’t be forced to issue plates it does not want to issue:

    Texas’s specialty license plate designs constitute government speech, and thus Texas was entitled to refuse to issue plates featuring SCV’s proposed design. Pp. 5–18. (a) When government speaks, it is not barred by the Free Speech Clause from determining the content of what it says. […] Just as Texas cannot require SCV to convey “the State’s ideological message,” id., at 715, SCV cannot force Texas to include a Confederate battle flag on its specialty license plates.

    If at some point Texas or some other state wants to issue SCV plates, it remains free to do so (per this decision, at least).

    @Betty Cracker:

    If you can convince the Florida DHSMV to object to those plates …

  25. 25
    cahuenga says:


    TPP is so awesome for labor they have to resurrect a displaced worker safety net.

  26. 26
    srv says:

    I wonder what Obama’s trade drum will look like.

  27. 27
    Punchy says:

    @burnspbesq: Holy Whaaa?? 4 Libs AND MUTHAFOCKEN CLARENCE THOMAS gave the 5-4 ruling.

    Yes, Uncle Thomas sided with all 4 libs for this. Should I assume the end is nigh? Or should I assume Thomas is now a crack addict?

  28. 28

    The holdouts just needed to have their wheels greaseda little more, getting what they paid for now

    @Ella in New Mexico: When unions do it, it’s a felony. When corporations do it, it’s free speech.

  29. 29

    Or should I assume Thomas is now a crack addict?

    @Punchy: Clarence has a recurring nightmare every now and then where he wakes up and he’s a black man living in 21st century America. It throws off his decision making for a few weeks.

  30. 30
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Looks like 27 House Dems* were willing to vote for fast-track even without the worker-protections fig leaf.

    *Including the always-useless Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

    Also, I love the way the bill’s titled “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, and air traffic controllers to make penalty-free withdrawals from governmental plans after age 50, and for other purposes.” It makes it hard for even us political junkies to figure out what’s going on.

  31. 31


    It throws off his decision making for a few weeks.

    Lets hope those are the same weeks when he was deciding on King v. Burwell.

  32. 32
    Tommy says:

    @cahuenga: I just don’t trust my politicians on this point. On my mom’s side of the family we were union members. They got their hands dirty. But they were paid a good wage and could raise a family. I don’t see that so much any more.

  33. 33
    Cervantes says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    The original point of the bill was just that: to make an exception for public-safety officers not yet retired so they can withdraw without penalty from their accounts.

  34. 34
    cahuenga says:


    Establishment Democrats have abandoned labor. Today they depend solely on ‘nose holders’ voting on heartstring issues to keep them in office while the economic rug is being pulled out from under them.

  35. 35
    Tommy says:

    @cahuenga: Yes they have and it pisses me off to to end.

  36. 36
    Knowbody says:

    @Amir Khalid: you think this will make middle class white America more likely to vote for the Democrats in 2016 in states like Ohio or something?

    If Obama signs this, we lose in 2016. That simple.

  37. 37
    the Conster says:

    Semi OT but holy shit the Pope’s killing it on twitter with his call for a different way to look at the economy and progress. He sounds like one of those liberation theologist commie priests from the 80s. I think I hear heads exploding from here.

  38. 38
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @C.V. Danes: Democrats betrayed them because a majority-republican House just voted for something that won’t survive Democratic opposition in the Senate? Even for firebaggery, that’s pretty weak.

  39. 39
    askew says:

    I am more irritated that Dems are letting TAA being funded by Medicare funds. It’s just boneheaded. Why are we robbing Medicare to pay for this? Make the GOP give up some tax cuts or other spending to pay for it?

    That said, TPP passing is inevitable. It’s going to be a fucking disaster for this country just like NAFTA was. Why Obama wants to destroy his legacy to be another sellout like Bill Clinton is beyond me.

  40. 40
    Trollhattan says:

    Since it’s open thread, holy crap, I knew the Texas leg. and courts are in the pocket of big bidnez, but didn’t fully appreciate that they’re basically living in their pants like a herd of ferrets at a legging contest.

    DENTON, Texas (CN) – Threatened with litigation and intervention by the Texas Legislature, the Denton City Council repealed its first-of-its kind fracking ban, and drillers have already gone back to work.
    Voters in Denton, a city of 120,000 just northwest of Dallas, approved an ordinance banning fracking in the city in the November 2014 general election.
    The city was sued twice immediately .
    Within hours, the Texas Oil & Gas Association and the Texas General Land Office filed separate lawsuits, claiming that only the Texas Railroad Commission and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have authority to regulate the oil and gas industry – not municipalities.
    The state increased the pressure in May, when Gov. Abbott signed House Bill 40 , prohibiting cities from enacting any ordinance “that bans, limits, or otherwise regulates an oil and gas operation within its boundaries or extraterritorial jurisdiction.”
    HB 40 effectively ended Denton’s ban: gas drillers have resumed fracking in the city. The bill “expressly preempts” cities from interfering.
    Citing the cost of litigation and of a fight with the state, the City Council repealed the ordinance by 6-1 vote Tuesday, after consulting with attorneys in closed session.
    “Doing so not only potentially reduces ongoing court costs and attorneys fees related to ongoing litigation with the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the General Land Office, but it also significantly mitigates problems and perceptions associated with operational discrepancies between the ban ordinance and newly adopted state law, to which the city is bound to comply,” the council said in a statement.
    “HB 40 is the law now in the State of Texas. Denton will comply with it so long as it remains valid.”

    It’s all about “local control” until they discover the locals can’t be controlled in the direction they prefer.

  41. 41
    askew says:


    Why shouldn’t Dems abandon labor? Union members interviewed leaving Hillary’s event said they wanted to know her stand on TPP but that they’d vote for her even if she backs it. Union leaders are now saying they will still back candidates who support fast-track. Unions are rolling over already on their empty threats. Why bother trying to please them when they’ll back you no matter what.

  42. 42
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Betty Cracker: so long as the people running the FL DMV want that, there will continue to be those plates.

  43. 43
    Cervantes says:


    I am more irritated that Dems are letting TAA being funded by Medicare funds. It’s just boneheaded. Why are we robbing Medicare to pay for this?

    Last week Pelosi killed that funding idea.

    Next week it may be resurrected. We shall see.

  44. 44
    cahuenga says:


    As I said, ‘nose holders’ have destroyed traditional liberal planks. The only incentive democratic candidates have now is to be ever so slightly less toxic than the Republican candidate… Which if followed to it’s obvious conclusion clearly explains the inexorable march to the right over the last 30 years.

  45. 45
    Tripod says:


    Pretty much.

    The TAA was a long standing (back to JFK) Keynesian safety net. The GOP yahoo caucus is perfectly happy shit canning it, and the Ex-Im Bank, because Democrats.

  46. 46
    Kay says:


    They weren’t worker protections. President Obama promised that worker protections are in the trade deal. We don’t know yet because no one is permitted to talk about the trade deal.

    What the Senate didn’t provide is funding to retrain workers who are displaced by trade deals.

    Funding to retrain workers harned by trade deals is not new. It’s been in place since 1974. They’re (promising!) funding for a program workers aleady had, and acting as if it’s new and “progressive!” which is utter nonsense and 100% spin.

  47. 47
    msdc says:


    So who were the Dem traitors?

    That was my first thought as well, but IIRC the bill last week had to pass under some special rule that accelerated the process but required a supermajority. That was the only reason they needed Democratic votes for passage. (Well, that and Republican defectors.) The GOP has more than enough representatives to get to 218 all on their own.

    Without TAA, Democrats should be able to filibuster this in the Senate.

    If we make them.

  48. 48
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @cahuenga: Well, see, another thing that happened along the way was that labor ceased to represent very many people, and labor _members_ started to do things like vote for Scott Walker and other odious Republicans, not because Democrats didn’t do enough for them, but because Democrats did too much for Those People. Getting stuck living a precarious life hasn’t been very conducive to liberal politics lately.

  49. 49
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Kay: That said, I’m a bit concerned that a lot of the liberal-leaning Democrats who voted against TAA for procedural reasons have left themselves susceptible to being savaged by negative ads about… their callousness towards working people hurt by the 21st-century economy.

  50. 50
    Cervantes says:


    They’re (promising!) funding for a program workers aleady had, and acting as if it’s new and “progressive!” which is utter nonsense and 100% spin.

    Yes, but the program is set to expire in September and needs to be renewed. Sherrod Brown has a bill in play that would renew it — and improve it in a couple of important ways.

    I’m not saying Brown’s bill is (or isn’t) likely to be passed in the current negotiation, but something like it is needed and can’t be taken for granted at this point.

  51. 51
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    @the Conster:

    the Pope’s killing it on twitter

    Now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d read.

  52. 52
    Kay says:


    I understand that. They’re presenting a renewal as this huge win, where they stand “on principle”.

    It’s nonsense. They will maybe get what working people already had prior to the trade deal.

    TAA was always a fig leaf and it’s still a fig leaf. It’s just now being presented (ridiculously) as some huge benefit in exchange for the trade deal. The whole point of the program is to mitigate damage from trade deals. Presenting this damage control as a “benefit!” of a trade deal is ridiculous.

    They gave displaced workers TAA, then threatened to take it away, and now they’re offering to give it back and that’s a huge win? Come on.

    The amount of reaching they’re doing to pretend this has something to do with “middle class jobs” is almost silly.

  53. 53
    Cervantes says:


    I agree.

    If we differ, it’s only about the degree to which renewal is a win. Personally, with the Republicans we currently have, I’m not taking renewal for granted; which is why getting it would be a win to some degree.

    As to whether renewal makes up for anything else in the package — that, to me, is a separate matter entirely.

  54. 54
    Kay says:


    I know fast track is going to pass because I know 60 multinational business interests get what they want, and I also know ever single member of Congress who voted for fast track will also vote for the deal. Presumably they’ve read it. Passage of fast track is passage of the trade deal. It’d be pretty dumb to vote for fast track while planning to vote “no” on any deal.

    The least Democrats could do is get something substantive, tangible and worthwhile in exchange instead of continuing this fiction that this has something to do with “US jobs”. I don’t think they should get the political cover, and getting the political cover isn’t going to fool anyone who was engaged in opposing this anyway. They know what TAA is. They understand this.

  55. 55
    Cervantes says:


    Have you looked at Sherrod’s TAA bill? What do you think of it?

  56. 56
    Kay says:


    Democrats got nothing in return for this trade deal. Nothing. It was a top priority of Republicans and Republicans not only got each and every thing they wanted, Democrats managed to alienate and enrage some of their most loyal supporters and those supporters are clustered in parts of the country that Democrats need to win national elections. That may be inconvenient for Democrats and they may be yearning to create a different map, one that embraces crappy trade deals, but it’s also fact.

  57. 57
    Kay says:


    I didn’t. Sherrod has a whole suite of worker training projects- the 21st century manufacturing hubs (they exist- they’re up and running) are his.

    I think what bothers me most is the cluelessness, the not caring enough to understand anything about the opposition. I saw the Chamber of Commerce were whining that service employee unions opposed the deal. They cannot understand why service employees would oppose this! Why, it’s a service economy! They won’t get hurt!

    If they don’t understand by now that policies that affect workers in one sector also affect another because the displaced workers have to go somewhere, why are they weighing in on these issues at all? I would just like some effort to show some consideration or thought to the people who will be affected by this high-level wheeling and dealing they’re doing. I get NO sense of that.

    I could take “you’re getting this deal and there will be downsides we didn’t anticpate and you will just have to shoulder that risk because that’s the way that the world goes around, blah, blah”. What I can’t take is this kind of mystified “what is everyone so upset about?” They haven’t heard a single word these opponents have said.

  58. 58
    Cervantes says:


    It was a top priority of Republicans and Republicans not only got each and every thing they wanted

    Well, 28 Democrats in the House voted for passage of “fast track” today; and 50 Republicans voted against.

    While the first number may be discouraging to some degree, isn’t the second number encouraging to a greater degree?

  59. 59
    Betty Cracker says:


    While the first number may be discouraging to some degree, isn’t the second number encouraging to a greater degree?

    Not necessarily. Without looking into who cast the votes, my guess is at least some of them are tea party types who are reflexively against anything Obama wants, ever. That type probably outnumber Republicans who actually give a crap about labor issues.

  60. 60
    Cervantes says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Well, among Florida Republicans — an only-too-familiar crowd to you, I suppose — the following voted against: Clawson, Nugent, Posey, and Webster.

  61. 61
    Kay says:


    Why would I think only 28 House Democrats voting for a trade deal that will become The Democrats Trade Deal (just like NAFTA became The Democrats Trade Deal) is positive?

    They read it and almost all of them oppose it.

    Doesn’t matter. They now own it.

  62. 62
    Loviatar says:

    So essentially we have Obama asking Democrats to trust the House Republicans. He is asking us to trust the most illiberal and reactionary House of Representative since the Civil War. smh

  63. 63
    mclaren says:

    OBAMA: I’m going to set you on fire. The fire is called the TPP. You’ll like it.
    WORKERS: We won’t like it.
    OBAMA: Why won’t you let me set you on fire? It’s only a small fire.
    WORKERS: We don’t care. We don’t want to be set on fire.
    OBAMA: You’ll hardly notice the fire. And it’s a very forward-looking fire, a transpacific fire. It’s the path to the future.
    WORKERS: We still don’t want to be set on fire.
    OBAMA: Okay, I’ll tell you what — if you let me set you on fire, I’ll put out the fire with an extinguisher called the TAA. I’ll even give an icepack for your burns!
    WORKERS: We don’t want an icepack. What we want is not to be set on fire.
    OBAMA: But think how much better you’ll feel after the fire is out! Can’t you see the benefits?
    WORKERS: No, we really cannot see the benefits of being set on fire.
    OBAMA: Then I can’t deal with you. I’ll have to join forces with the Republicans and set you on fire.
    WORKERS: If you do, we’ll hold our breath.
    OBAMA: Is that supposed to deter me?
    WORKERS: Maybe not, but we still don’t want to be set on fire.
    OBAMA: I really don’t understand your objection here. What’s your problem with this whole process?
    WORKERS: Our problem is that if you set us on fire, we’ll run down the street screaming with flames shooting out of our asses.
    OBAMA: I just can’t talk to you. It’s time to let bipartisanship take center stage.
    \WORKERS: When 90% of our skin gets seared off with third-degree burns, will there be bipartisan nurses?
    OBAMA: We’re still working on the health care thing.

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