Opinion

Editorial

Washington Betrays Americans — Again

Much is being said and written in the wake of the recent Senate vote to extend to President Obama complete authority to negotiate trade agreements in a sweeping Pacific Rim trade deal known as TPA (Trade Promotion Authority).

The vote is being called a triumph for big business, especially the giant multi-nationals likely to benefit from softened trade restrictions. But we see this backroom deal (yes, Americans were kept in the dark regarding the details, and that’s a big problem for a democracy) as a major defeat for American workers and democracy itself. The bill, from the scant details available, will most likely result in lower wages and more job outsourcing. At least, that is what big labor, which our readers know we are no fan of, is saying.

The secret deal is seen by many as a key victory for a lame-duck president sorely in need of a legacy-boosting piece of legislation. But we don’t see much legacy in this piece of twisted legislation. Others say it is a victory for Republicans and giant corporations who will get preferential tax treatment and more HB1 visas to bring in more foreign workers to replace American ones.

Politicians in Washington, both Democrat and Republican, who continue to benefit themselves in their Washington enclave of privilege and entitlement, see the bill’s advancement as a rare example of how a historically divided government can actually slice through crippling gridlock and get something accomplished. We disagree. And those brave politicians who fought this secretive measure tooth and nail and came very close to handing the president what would have been a very embarrassing setback need to take a bow.

While the legislation may in fact be beneficial to big business, we believe the Senate vote is something else, something more significant and, quite frankly, sinister. Indeed, it’s an example of how our government is still very much broken, with our elected leaders acting in a disturbingly non-transparent manner to advance their own agendas, not effectively representing the people who elected them.

For what it’s worth, TPA, hailed as the most significant trade measure of the 21st century, could very well turn out to be a meaningful — and beneficial — piece of legislation, one that will enable this country to better compete in what is now truly a global economy.

What’s more, the measure will enable the U.S. and the other nations involved a chance to write the rules for this more-global economy — and not China, which is not part of the deal.

But in this case, that end — if it does become reality, and it certainly appears it will — doesn’t justify the means. It doesn’t justify the 60 votes to essentially give the president a blank check to negotiate the rest of the trade package with no chance of amendments from Congress. The same president whose name has become affixed to a disastrous piece of healthcare reform legislation. The same president whose record of foreign policy has been a travesty and resulted in a world on fire. The same president who has essentially shown that he is anything but worthy of such trust.

The fact is, no one really looks good with this bill’s passage. Not the Republicans. They’re not acting out of any desire to break gridlock or work with the president. They’re looking to protect and advance the interests of big business, which is an important constituency, but not the one senators are elected to represent.

And not the Democrats, many of whom, while claiming to be looking out for the interests of the little people, are instead pandering to the labor unions and environmental groups that have long been their cornerstone supporters.

As we said at the top, this vote can be considered many things depending on one’s point of view. From our standpoint, it clearly shows that Washington continues to betray Americans, not serve them. And unless we express our dissatisfaction with such betrayals at the voting booth, the same results will continue to occur.

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