News Release

Vote Buying for Corporate Trade Deals


The New York Times writes this morning: “President Obama’s ambitious push to expand his trade negotiating powers faces a final congressional showdown on Friday, but lawmakers in his own party — pressed hard by organized labor, environmental groups and liberal activists — are threatening to bring down the entire package of trade bills.”

SARAH ANDERSON, sarah at; also via Elaine de Leon, elaine at
Anderson is the director of the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She just wrote the piece “Supporting NAFTA Was the Kiss of Death for Democrats –Why Dems Should Think Twice About Voting for TPP,” which states: “It’s serious flashback time for those involved in the 1993 debate over the North America Free Trade Agreement. With the ‘fast track’ trade vote … a Democratic president is once again twisting arms and dangling rewards in a desperate effort to muster votes for a corporate-driven trade deal. … The word is only about a dozen members remain on the fence, most of them Democrats. The president is reportedly putting the tightest screws on members of the Congressional Black Caucus. After the NAFTA wheeling and dealing began in earnest back in 1993, it didn’t take long to push enough Dems off the fence. All these years later, NAFTA remains the basic blueprint for every U.S. trade deal.

“Let me skip over NAFTA’s failure to deliver on promises for workers, the environment, human rights, etc. These have all been extensively documented over the years by the Institute for Policy Studies, and many others across the continent. President Obama acknowledged its flaws himself when he made a campaign trail promise to renegotiate the deal. Instead, let’s take a look at what individual members got by helping to ram the pact through Congress. Did their support for the big business lobby’s dream deal ensure a glittering political career? …

“One of these unfulfilled promises targeted textile and apparel state members. In the days before the NAFTA vote, President Bill Clinton sent them letters aimed at calming concerns about a pending global trade rule to phase out import protections on these products within 10 years. The administration would secure an extension to 15 years, Clinton promised. A month after the NAFTA vote, U.S. negotiators accepted the 10-year timeline.

“Rep. Clete Donald Johnson, Jr. was one of the targets of that empty promise. After voting for NAFTA, the Georgia Democrat got demolished in 1994, losing by a margin of more than 30 percent. A few years later, Clinton offered Johnson a consolation prize: a post as chief U.S. trade negotiator for textiles, a sector in rapid decline due to low-wage foreign competition.”

See: “New Public Citizen Report Documents Systematic Bipartisan Betrayals on ‘Deals’ Made by Presidents, Congressional Leaders in Exchange for Trade Votes.”

See: “NAFTA: 20 Years of Costs to Communities and the Environment.”

Also see from Institute for Policy Studies Fellow Manuel Pérez-Rocha: “TTIP — Why the World Should Beware,” which states: “The trade and investment partnership TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), which is currently being negotiated between the EU and the U.S., will affect the whole world. But the other world regions, like the BRICS or the Global South are being excluded from the trade negotiations and hardly get attention in the debates around TTIP. This trend is shifting today: because TTIP as an ‘economic NATO’ is putting the rise of the BRICS, especially China and Russia, into relation with a looming ‘descent of Europe.’ According to the negotiating partners the economic rise of the BRICS has to be prevented. But at what price? TTIP is threat not only for the EU and the U.S., but for the whole world. Ultimately TTIP would serve as an instrument to the economic and political elites of the West to maintain their hegemonic power and dominance. The price is to be paid by the people in the Global North as well as in the Global South.”