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TPP is another blow to ailing middle class

WASHINGTON – Slithering through both Republican-controlled houses of Congress last week was legislation that is going to make it even harder for middle-class Americans to keep a job, and will lift the bar against the poor escaping poverty and dependency.

It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed treaty among 12 nations, including the United States, Japan and Australia. It also covers cheap labor countries like Vietnam, Brunei and Singapore, which subsidize exports and manipulate currency to underprice U.S. goods.

Some opponents call it a “Trojan horse for corporations.”

Better call it “son of Citizens United,” after the 2010 Supreme Court decision that ruled that corporations were people and could make secret, unlimited gifts in races for Congress and the presidency.

The obscene gifts that were greased by the court’s decision are in large part the reason you have a new Senate GOP majority and a massive Republican edge in the House. And the trade bill is why the heart and soul of the GOP intends to dip into this gravy train.

President Obama’s trade ambassador is negotiating it – in secret.

The bill represents a flip-flop for Republicans. Instead of referring the bill for hearings and floor debate and amendment, it hands Obama unchallenged and arbitrary executive power. Members of Congress can vote either yes or no.

Obama is not just for this undefined legislation; he is ripping fellow Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who oppose it. Other opponents include Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who may filibuster the bill if it gets to the Senate floor.

Dow-Jones News quoted Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, who is likely to become Democratic leader in 2017, saying, “I don’t believe in these [trade] deals anymore. I’ve changed.”

Obama Thursday told balking Democrats the TPP would open foreign markets to American goods and “help the middle class.” Why Obama is so passionately for a bill that most Democrats strongly oppose is a mystery and a subject for another day.

However, Obama sounds exactly like President Bill Clinton in 1993 when he pushed for passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement – after he first indicated he opposed it – and in 2000 when he signed legislation opening wide the gates to the China trade.

The subsequent collapse of our country’s manufacturing base, the undermining of the middle class, turmoil among the abandoned in the central cities and widening disparity of incomes are now old, sad and frayed stories.

Meanwhile, the current question is where the putative Democratic 2016 presidential nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, stands on the TPP and the embattled progressives of her party. The answer is somewhere in the middle – between her and her husband’s globalist friends and her newly fashioned populist stance.

The blog Politico on Friday quoted a White House aide, Eric Schultz, as indicating Clinton stands with Obama on the TPP. Entangling her are press investigations spurring Republican accusations she may, as secretary of state, have traded favors with foreign governments, including Russia, for gifts to the Clinton family foundations.

According to the New York Times, as “Clinton’s State Department was signing off on the sale of one of America’s largest uranium mines to Russia, the mine’s chairman used his family charity to donate more than $2 million” to a Clinton foundation. She never disclosed the gifts.

The Times also said the former president got a $500,000 speaking fee through the Russian interests.

On behalf of the family, their daughter, Chelsea, denied any wrongdoing. In the wake of a Reuters news service probe, the family foundation said it will refile five annual tax returns where errors were found.