Bernie Sanders supporters fell short in their efforts to include an anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership amendment in the Democratic Party platform.
Instead, the platform committee dominated by Hillary Clinton supporters with an assist from labor unions approved an amendment about trade deal restrictions in general.
The TPP appears to be a deal-breaker for the Bernie-or-bust cohort. There is also a move afoot to challenge the TPP as part of floor debate at the upcoming DNC convention in Philadelphia later this month.
Team Sanders even apparently collected about 800,000 signatures on an anti-TPP petition and brought them to the meeting, but it evidently failed to sway the delegates, The Hill indicated.
“Instead, members approved more open-ended language that does not explicitly condemn TPP, but says all free trade deals should be held to a strict standard that protects U.S workers….The Sanders allies on the committee did not believe that language…was tough enough. They wanted the platform to state that TPP should not even come up for a vote in Congress,” the Wall Street Journal explained.
As a practical matter, platform language for either major political party may or may not have any bearing on what a candidate ultimately does or says before or after a national convention. Donald Trump, for example, is hardly shy about expressing his differences with standard GOP ideology, including on issues related to trade with China, Mexico, or other countries.
Supported by President Obama and currently being fast-tracked in Congress, the TPP is a two-thousand-page international trade pact, similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Meeting in Orlando, the 187-member platform committee (100-plus of whom are aligned with Clinton) went along with the Sanders-backed proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $15, however.
As U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary supported the TPP, describing it as the “gold standard,” but Clinton now says she opposes the pact. However, many Sanders supporters are less than convinced that this reversal is anything but window dressing. When their amendment was rejected, some Bernie backers booed and turned their backs on the committee, while others walked out on the proceedings.
“Many said they doubted Clinton’s stated opposition to the TPP and saw her delegates’ votes here as a sign she intends to backtrack during a potential vote on the TPP during the lame-duck session of Congress later this year,” NBC News reported.
A lame-duck session is when Congress convenes (and votes on bills) after the November election, but before the new Congress and the president are sworn into office.
According to a posting at Progressive Army website about Clinton’s TPP position which has changed since she left the State Department, “Many have questioned her authenticity on that stance…Even TPP lobbyists are confident that Clinton will support the TPP once elected. Despite Clinton’s stance on the trade deal, NBC News reports that the Clinton campaign was whipping members to oppose the language proposed by Sanders loyalists to reject the TPP.”
Sanders reportedly plans to endorse rival Clinton tomorrow in a joint appearance in New Hampshire nonetheless.
In detailing 10 reasons why he opposes TTP, Sanders wrote the following:
“It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system. If TPP was such a good deal for America, the administration should have the courage to show the American people exactly what is in this deal, instead of keeping the content of the TPP a secret.”
Bernie Sanders has repeatedly stressed that his main priority is defeating Donald Trump in the November general election, although as alluded to above, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee shares Bernie’s opposition to trade deals that often send U.S. jobs overseas and undermine America’s manufacturing base. Both men also opposed the Iraq War (which Hillary Clinton voted for), as well as condemning the undue influence of Wall Street and other lobbyists on politics.
Former Bill Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich took to Facebook to post an exchange he allegedly had with a Clinton insider about TPP. The insider claims that President Obama wants TPP to pass, and no one in the Democratic Party will get in his way. “Hillary won’t, and Debbie [Wasserman Schultz] won’t, and neither will Nancy [Pelosi] or Harry [Reid] or Dick [Durbin] or Chuck [Schumer].”
Reich insisted that Donald Trump will use TPP as a “battering ram” against Hillary Clinton in the general election.
“The majority of Democrats like the majority of Americans are against the TPP. Hillary is against the TPP. Bernie is against the TPP. Let’s not be bureaucrats. Let’s be leaders. All we have to do brothers and sisters is come together and you know coming together requires efforts from both sides,” said Sanders delegate Ben Jealous in the ultimately losing effort to block the TPP in the platform, Politico recalled.
How and in what manner do you think Bernie Sanders supporters should process the defeat of the TPP amendment at the platform committee, particularly as the Hillary Clinton endorsement nears?
[Photo by Craig Ruttle/AP]