by David Sirota, Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 01:26:54 PM EST
So let's see - Democrats win Congress by using a strong opposition to lobbyist-written trade policies as a key way to gain ground among traditionally conservative voters. As USA Today noted, fighting our current trade policy "especially helped Democrats woo voters in traditionally Republican rural areas. Yet now, just three days after the election, we read this in the New York Times:
"Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who could soon become the head of the Financial Services Committee, said he and other Democrats who have been advising Ms. Pelosi are planning to propose a ''grand bargain'' with business interests. If business groups support the Democrats' efforts to increase the minimum wage, extend student loans and expand affordable housing programs, Mr. Frank said, then the Democrats would support efforts to reduce trade barriers and burdensome regulation. 'We are liberal internationalists,' Mr. Frank said. 'Businesses know they have an interest in working with us.'"
Barney Frank has done some great, courageous and commendable work on trying to regulate exorbitant CEO pay packages and on economic inequality in general. But make no mistake about it: "reduced trade barriers" is political language for continuing our current trade policy that includes no basic protections for labor, environmental or human rights - a trade policy that sells out both American and foreign workers and has exacerbated the economic inequality that Frank himself has focused on.
This doesn't sound like a "grand bargain" - it sounds like laying the groundwork for selling out just a few days after an election where a major mandate for change on trade was very clear (just read Public Citizen's incredible new report, and you will see how clear this message really was across the country). Look, no one wants "high" trade barriers - but this kind This is why, as I have said before, the fight only began on November 7th. Making sure the new Congress stays true to what it was elected on is going to be a major battle. There are many Democratic staffers-turned-corporate-lobbyists running to reporters bragging about how much influence they will have now - influence that will be used to make sure the election's mandate on issues like trade is ignored in the new Congress. It is up to us to make sure it isn't, and that we don't sit idly as these forces perform a hostile takeover of the Democratic Party.