Are you ready for Hillary?

NAFTA, TPP & The Clinton Global Initiative’s “Free Trade” Activism

By Gaius Publius, Crooks & Liars

1/21/15 10:36am

(L)et’s fix three pieces in our brains:

  • Before NAFTA passed, Bill Clinton, Pete Peterson and a raft of “pre-NAFTA economic studies” predicted one million new jobs, increased exports, and a lower trade deficit.
  • After NAFTA passed, we lost one million jobs, increased imports, and increased the trade deficit by a factor of almost 5.
  • Pro-NAFTA companies, who promised to create new jobs here, moved existing jobs abroad almost as soon as it was signed.

The third piece counts. Clinton claims to have been mistaken on free-trade policy (as opposed to having been knowingly complicit with the damage). But I can’t imagine either Peterson or any American CEO didn’t have the obvious stapled in front of them – that when it’s cheaper to export jobs, you export jobs and pocket the cash. That NAFTA was going to be a gift of cash from the day it was conceived.

In other words, NAFTA was designed by its creators to export jobs, and “predictions” to the contrary were just propaganda. CEO substitution rule: When they mention “more jobs,” they always mean “more profit.”

The next NAFTA is called “TPP” (the Trans-Pacific Partnership), there’s a trans-Atlantic version in the wings (called, TPIP), and Barack Obama is playing the Clinton game with both. He and his corporate-controlled friends are pushing for them, starting with TPP, hoping that a Republican Congress can give him what a Democratic Congress could not.

Of course they’re promising “more jobs” again, but the deal itself and the negotiations are in secret, and they’ll only allow a vote under “Fast Track” rules – no amendments, just an up-or-down vote. All of this to promote deceptively named “free trade,” meaning freedom for the global holders of wealth to do whatever they want with it anywhere in the world.

Keep all this in mind when the phrase “lesser evil” turns up again in 2016. Just as Hillary Clinton is a carbon candidate (click to see why), she’s a “free trade” TPP candidate as well. Yes, she once said … sorta, under pressure of a political campaign … that NAFTA could have been better (“has not lived up to its promises”).

(T)he Clinton Foundation’s CGI is used as an agent of neoliberal policies. Swenson’s whole section on this is worth reading.

The do-gooder aspect of the Clinton family’s CGI – yes, family; the official name of the umbrella organization is “Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation” – obscures its definition of “good.” The organization promotes these “good” things – more carbon emissions in the form of fracked methane (“America’s natural gas”), privately-owned schools, privately-owned public infrastructure like bridges and roads – and it does so by hosting forums presented people like Robert Rubin, fracked methane CEOs, and other billionaire beneficiaries of these policies.

CGI sells “energy independence” – meaning continuing profits for “U.S.” oil and gas companies.

CGI sells privatized education, and road and bridge repair financed with “public-private partnerships”.

“Public-private partnership” means using corporate money to finance public needs, then giving the bulk of the benefit back to the corporation in the form of profit (most of which lines CEO-class pockets). Think parking meters in Chicago.

CGI also promotes studies in “behavioral psychology” to find better ways to influence (“nudge” … “gently urge”) changes in public behavior that benefit the billionaires.

The U.S. television viewer is already heavily “influenced” (nudged; propagandized) by what she watches. There’s a science to it, and CGI wants to help billionaires harness that science to their benefit.

All in all, the bottom line is clear. The piece closes by noting the obvious contradiction – how can a “meeting of one-percenters” address problems their own policies, eagerly pursued, are causing?

What’s the goal of CGI? The answer has to be – to prop up the One Percent (actually the 0.001%, the 1% of the 1%) while appearing to do good, or by doing enough good to appear to be all-good.

As to CGI’s managers, from the Clintons on down, are they failing to solve global economic problems out of ignorance of the obvious – that their proposed “solutions” are in fact the cause? Or are they failing for some other reason? If trade deals, to pick just one issue, are so bad for the average worker, are they too … what, dumb? … to see that, or too venal to cop to it?

And what about the Clintons themselves? What causes this family to collect millions for a foundation loved by “do-gooder” billionaires – and likely funded by them – a foundation that promotes policies that keep these people rich and the rest of us poor, despite its stated objectives?

There are several ways to answer these questions, some social, some intellectual, some financial. None is flattering.

I want to tie up this bundle. This is in part about TPP, but it’s also about Hillary Clinton and what CGI says about how she would act if elected. I want to ask three questions:

  • Is there any question that NAFTA and TPP are good only for billionaires?
  • Is there any question that the Clinton Global Initiative promotes billionaire policies, including but not limited to job-killing “free trade” deals?
  • Is there any question that CGI’s activism represents policy directions that all of the Clintons, CGI principals, approve of?

And a fourth question:

  • If the answers above are No, No, and No, how is Hillary Clinton the “lesser evil” on America’s most important domestic issue, extreme and worsening economic inequality?

I’m not sure I can answer that in a way that comforts left-leaning 2016 voters.

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