Thursday, June 4, 2015

Historical quotes of the day

“It’s a Washington…where decades of trade deals like NAFTA and China have been signed with plenty of protections for corporations and their profits, but none of our environment or our workers who’ve seen factories shut their doors and millions of jobs disappear, workers whose right to organize and unionize has been under assault for the last eight years.

You know, in the years after her husband signed NAFTA, Senator Clinton would go around talking about how great it was and how many benefits it would bring. Now that she’s running for President, she says we need a time-out on trade. No one knows when this time-out will end. Maybe after the election…. ”
– Obama on the campaign trail speaking in Janesville, Wisconsin, February 2008 [Source]*
“[Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee] was frank in saying that the primary campaign has been necessarily domestically focused, particularly in the Midwest, and that much of the rhetoric that may be perceived to be protectionist is more reflective of political maneuvering than policy.

…Noting anxiety among many US domestic audiences about the US economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign. …[H]e cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.”
– Joseph De Mora, Canadian political and economic affairs consular officer, “REPORT ON US ELECTIONS – CHCGO MEETING WITH OBAMA ADVISOR AUSTAN GOOLSBEE” [Source]
“I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada to try to amend NAFTA because I think that we can get labor agreements in that agreement right now. And it should reflect the basic principle that our trade agreements should not just be good for Wall Street, it should also be good for Main Street.”
“We should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced.”
- Obama on his supposed plan as president to prioritize renegotiating NAFTA [Source] [Source]
“At a time when the economy has been shrinking drastically and trade has been shrinking around the world...we probably want to make the economy more stabilized in the coming months before we have a long discussion around further trade negotiations.”
- Obama explaining to reporters why he won’t be moving to renegotiate NAFTA, August, 2009 [Source]
“[M]ake no mistake, this administration is committed to pursuing expanded trade and new trade agreements. It is absolutely essential to our economic future.”
- “REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON FINANCIAL RESCUE AND REFORM,” Obama speaking to representatives of the “financial industry,” Federal Hall, New York City, September 14, 2009 [Source]

Obama’s learned an important lesson: dispensing with even the pretense of democracy and cutting the public out of the process – except as passive recipients of placating paternalism – is much more efficient.

* (Some of these remarks are discussed in Jamie Peck, Constructions of Neoliberal Reason (2010). The first quotation is presented in historical context in a recent post by John Nichols at The Nation - “Why So Many Democrats Rejected Obama’s Lobbying on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal.”)

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