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Robert Prasch: The President's jobs speech is intended as distraction from the free trade treaties

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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 08:40 PM
Original message
Robert Prasch: The President's jobs speech is intended as distraction from the free trade treaties
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-e-prasch/obama-job...

I hope Prasch is wrong about this, but it's an interesting theory so I wanted to post it here.

Robert E. Prasch (Author, How Markets Work: Supply, Demand and 'The Real World')
President Obama's Speech and the Unemployed: Why Now?
Posted: 9/4/11 07:30 PM ET

-snip-

At first glimpse, it is reasonable to suppose that the President and his advisors are sufficiently worried about the upcoming election to actually do something for the unemployed. This would be prudent, as a reduced level of unemployment is a good predictor of an incumbent President's reelection prospects, although an important exception was President Reagan in 1984. But, if this were the motivation, one might suppose that the administration would select a plan or plans that could conceivably get the job done (For such a program, see here). Yet, it is evident that the set of programs and policies that early reports suggest are being cobbled together are either symbolic (such as a "workfare" requirement for unemployment insurance that has been pioneered in Georgia), or too small (the proposed infrastructure expenditures), or too long-term (the so-called infrastructure "bank"), to make much of a difference. Worse, their modest effectiveness is certain to be swamped by the negative impact on employment that can be anticipated from the deficit "deal" that the President negotiated earlier this fall (Dean Baker has an astute criticism of the likely content of the proposals). Moreover, we know that a serious effort to address unemployment would require a confrontation with Congress while simultaneously discomforting the President's friends and supporters on Wall Street. As we have seen repeatedly, he instinctually defers to the latter on economic matters. Hence, the idea that he plans to do something sufficiently drastic to tangibly change the unemployment numbers before November 2012 simply fails to tell us "Why now"?

By process of elimination, we can only infer that the President's agenda is symbolic and hence political. If so, what political ends might be in view? Being on record as "caring" about unemployment is always good, but President Obama and his advisors have often spoken of their "concern." A need to reiterate it does not, on its own, explain this new political initiative. It stands to reason that there must be another explanation. Perhaps it is designed to be a distraction. If so, from what are we being distracted? The answer, while admittedly speculative, is most likely "Free Trade."

It is common knowledge that the White House plans to submit three completed "Free Trade" agreements to the Senate this September -- South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. (As always, these treaties are primarily about guarantees and protections for financial and investment flows, restrictions on intellectual property, and related issues. But exploring their content will have to await another post.) With a remarkable sense of timing, the administration also plans to mark Labor Day 2011 by opening multi-party talks on a Trans-Pacific Free Trade Area. (Trade negotiators, lawyers, lobbyists, and hundreds of corporate honchos are invited to these talks -- critical economists, civil society groups, and the public are not.) The President's "voter base" is firmly opposed to these secretive and largely detrimental deals, as is the bulk of the American public. This opposition would most likely intensify if the public were fully briefed on their contents. Simultaneously, there is no question that the President's "donor base" is highly enthusiastic about these deals -- after all, they were in the room when the details were hammered out. Wall Street, the Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers are beside themselves with excitement. The treaties promise extraordinary protection of financial and investment flows, innumerable exemptions from regulation, new and lucrative opportunities for off-shoring jobs, and political recognition and validation of the absence of labor protections and union rights that is a characteristic of most of these nations and regions. K-Street lobbyists can look forward to high fees and lavish banquets during and after the Senate vote. Big agricultural intermediaries look forward to crushing South Korean farmers with their heavily subsidized produce. This year, Colombia is on track to outperform its 2010 record of murdered unionists. If you're a plutocrat or one of their paid representatives, what's not to like?

My conjecture is that the forthcoming speech and any accompanying legislation was and is intended to provide political cover and a welcome distraction throughout the passage of these "Free Trade" treaties. As during the Clinton years, the treaties will be presented -- with meticulous dishonesty -- as jobs programs (For a glimpse of the scale of this dishonesty, consider that Panama would have to multiply its consumption of American-made goods twenty-fold to import as much as it currently exports to the United States. Even then, their total imports would have no discernible effect on our economy). Handled properly, the Washington press corps and the public could be induced to blur the distinction between a set of largely ineffective jobs programs and the proposed trade agreements. After all, the reporting is certain to downplay analysis while highlighting rancor and noise. My best guess of the end result is that the Republicans will succeed in stripping away what little is of value in the jobs programs while allowing the trade agreements to remain standing as part of some sort of "grand bargain." President Obama will then -- alas -- be "forced" to sign both. This would allow the trade agreements to become law, while minimizing the administration's "footprint." For the White House, this would be a highly desirable outcome as all early signs suggest that this is shaping up to be an election that will marked by a deafening lack of enthusiasm from rank-and-file Democrats.

-snip-
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 08:43 PM
Response to Original message
1. Exactly

Macbeth:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


NOW I know what mythic archetype Obama's playing!
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 08:51 PM
Response to Original message
2. Panama? Where rich people send their money for vacations?
What a joke.

K&R
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Ruby the Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 08:54 PM
Response to Original message
3. Pay no attention to the bill behind the curtain.
Jobs! Job Creators! USA! USA! USA!

:eyes:
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Bluebear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 09:00 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Yes we can!
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MadMaddie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 09:04 PM
Response to Original message
5. Sooo does the writer prefer he not address jobs and then
complain because he is not coming in front of the American people to talk about jobs?

For Pete's sake, how about we wait to hear what is in the speech and then critique the plan? What? it's better to speculate and jump off of the cliff before we know?....
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Ruby the Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. There are three things being proposed by the admin
1. Jobs (infrastructure bank most likely - remains to be seen)

2. Three more 'free trade deals' (not to be mentioned in polite company due to the "complexity" or some such shit)

3. Patent reform. Patent reform? Dear Lord, I have had insomnia for over a week and watched my fill of late night commercials for days. You wouldn't believe the shit people with a creative bent have come up with and are hawking at 3:30am! Yet they say we need to accelerate patent approvals to 'unleash creativity'? THIS is a priority? Yes - because it is holding up Apple from suing Samsung from suing Google from suing Microsoft.

***yawn***
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QC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 11:01 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Sounds like warmed over Republican goo. n/t
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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-05-11 06:53 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. Which is virtually indistinguishable from the Third Way's goo
Edited on Mon Sep-05-11 07:01 AM by chill_wind
in terms of the trade deals and more:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...


Third Way wants to push the patent deals, too. PDF Brief here from 2010:

http://www.thirdway.org/publications/293
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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-05-11 01:49 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. They want patent reform so they can more quickly "patent"
God's creation -- our DNA, seeds, things that were created long before the word "patent" was ever heard.

This patent reform will just be a grab for things that belong to each of us and all of us.

Next thing you know, they will "patent" water, soil, air -- just wait.

And the trade agreements. As the author of the article says, no one, no one wants them except the big business donors that support Obama and all the other best known politicians.

Pox on their houses.

We do not need any more trade deals at this time.

Once we have a higher employment rate, THEN we can talk trade. But at this time, we don't have much to export.

We will once again end up importing more stuff that we can't afford. More stuff that we have to borrow money to buy no matter how cheap it is.

Obama is going the wrong direction down a one-way street and taking all of us with him.
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Ruby the Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-05-11 01:11 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. BINGO
This "Patent" thing that we don't discuss (so as not to confuse people) isn't about creativity or unleashing the "entrepreneurial spirit" is is all about unleashing corporate lawsuits that aren't moving fast enough for the owner class.

Just last night I saw that Lee Majors is pitching a new 'bionic man' hearing aide, someone created a easy to use slot/groove system to salvage sagging furniture (pretty cool!), and no matter what kitchen gadget they are selling, it comes with a new, never-before-seen free specialty knife.

These folks (and their customers) aren't the ones this Patent "reform" is looking to help.
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sad sally Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-05-11 02:57 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. And who is pushing for the Senate to pass the American Invent Act
so the President can sign into law?

No surprise here - five to 10 years ago, patent litigation was growing rapidly and scared many big firms into creating industry groups to lobby congress to "fix it." IT firms and pharmaceuticals butted heads for years then ultimately compromised on this bill. It does not benefit either of them very much -- nor anyone else, but their lobbying groups, such as the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform want a victory to justify their existence. In fact, during the intervening years, many major court decisions have occurred which have incrementally solved most of the problems that existed when those groups were formed but they developed a life of their own.

So the President and congress are putting the interests of the job exporters ahead of the job creators all due to the fact that the job creators have had no voice in this process and are still unaware of what's about to happen. Nor do they have the resources to hire lobbyists or make campaign contributions. Not a single inventor nor startup was invited to testify before the Senate on this in the past six years of hearings. This was not an accident.
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polmaven Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-05-11 08:02 AM
Response to Reply #5
12. Wait???
Why in the WORLD would we to wait??/ If we wait to hear what he has to say, we might not be able to complain about it! We might not be able to use our psychic powers and accuse him of "wanting" to do things with which we strongly disagree. We really don't need no stinkin' FACTS!!!

Sheeesh!
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Ruby the Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-05-11 01:14 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. I din't know how tall you are, but the point
came flying in about 3" above your head.

The *point* was that this speech is a distraction from the 'package'. If there is no mention of the other 2 legs of the admin's 3 legged stool, then it is not being honest with people as to what is being proposed.

Unless you are a fan of NAFTA/CAFTA and Monsanto-level patents - cus those be da udder 2 legs...
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polmaven Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-05-11 03:26 PM
Response to Reply #14
17. Well, let's
WAIT and see!!!
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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-05-11 06:36 AM
Response to Original message
9. It was he who asked Congress to pass these deals
In early August.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/07/08/r...

And he will get them. Republicans want them. Third Way has been calling for them as more of their Grand Bargain agenda.

Here's the Third Way "blueprint."

On Jobs, Grand Bargains for Politicians to Get America Back to Work
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...


While on the campaign trail in April of 2008, then-Senator Obama said he would oppose a new free trade agreement with Colombia because the violence against unions would make a mockery of the very labor protections that we have insisted be included in these kinds of agreements.


Read more:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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durablend Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-05-11 07:54 AM
Response to Original message
11. Come on people, let's hear what he says first
That way we can be told we never heard what he actually said, misunderstood what he did say, and have to take what we can get and not look for ponies that aren't coming.

:sarcasm:
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Ruby the Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-05-11 01:16 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. Er, I think several of us may be more concerned about what he doesn't say
about his Third Way three point approach.

Care to take a bet on whether he talks about free trade and corporate patents as 'job creators' as part of the talk?
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