October 13, 2011

Bipartisanship in the service of the oligarchy

If you were paying close attention, you may have noticed that yesterday Congress, which is supposed to be locked in partisan gridlock that has paralyzed it, managed in a bipartisan manner to pass quite easily and with little fanfare major free-trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. The House passed the South Korea agreement by a vote of 278 to 151, Panama by 300 to 129 and Colombia by 262-167. In the Senate, the South Korean plan passed by a vote of 83 to 15, Panama by 77 to 22 and Colombia by 66 to 33.

Whether one thinks such agreements are good for everyone or not, the oligarchy definitely favors them because anything that enables them to move goods, money, and manufacturing capacity more easily and cheaply across borders enables them to make more money.

These agreements had been negotiated by George W. Bush but had stalled in Congress because of opposition from the labor movement that they would cost jobs here. This time they passed easily, thanks to the support of president Obama, which illustrates once again that the oligarchy can sometimes get more of what it wants under a Democratic administration than under a Republican one. It also illustrates once again how noisy partisan gridlock only comes into play when it comes to doing things that benefit ordinary people, and miraculously melts away when the oligarchy's interests are involved.


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Free trade agreements are fine - but the rights to free trade should be accompanied by appropriate responsibilities. Multinational corporations should not be permitted to evade national taxes as GE's did last year. Nor should workers face any barriers resettling to live and work in any nation which has free trade agreements. Once upon a time, our trade agreement with Japan included a requirement that they buy a specified (large) amount of tobacco from us - after the US Surgeon General had declared smoking hazardous. Terms of free trade should really be less corporate friendly - and more just - than that!

Posted by Heidi Nemeth on October 13, 2011 01:38 PM