The Bait & Switch By Both Political Parties

During his big economic policy speech Monday in Detroit, Donald Trump spoke out forcefully against so-called free trade deals.

When he wasn’t being interrupted by protestors, he promised to reject the TPP, renegotiate NAFTA, and even leave NAFTA altogether if Canada and Mexico refused to play ball.

If the TPP is actually approved it will be catastrophic. That's why I have announced we will withdraw from the deal before that can ever, ever, ever happen...

I have previously laid out a detailed 7-point plan for trade reform, available on my website. It includes strong protections against currency manipulation, big problem, tariffs against any countries that cheat by unfairly subsidizing their goods, and it includes a total renegotiation of NAFTA which is a disaster for our country. A total renegotiation. And if we don’t get a better deal, we will walk away.

When he talks like that, Trump sounds a lot like, well, Trump.

No serious Republican presidential candidate has talked that way on

trade in at least a generation.

But when Trump talks about renegotiating NAFTA he also sounds like someone else.

He sounds like a certain junior senator from Illinois who way back in 2008 made criticism of NAFTA, CAFTA and other so-called free trade deals a big part of his presidential campaign. One of the reasons why I voted for him.

It’s easy to forget now, but when then-Senator Barack Obama first ran for president, he did so as an opponent of corporate-managed trade policies.

This is what he used to sound like:

Keith Olbermann: Scrap NAFTA, Senator Obama, or fix it?

Senator Obama: 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.

Senator Obama: NAFTA needs to be amended and I've already said that I would contact the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Canada

It's absolutely critical for us to understand that NAFTA was an enormous problem. The permanent trade relations with China, without some of the enforcement mechanisms that were in there, that you voted for, was also a significant problem.

Flash-forward eight years though, and President Obama now sounds like this:

As I've said before, it means that we have to do everything we can to make sure that everybody shares in prosperity, that we have strong rules to protect workers, to promote high wages, to make sure that our citizens are getting the education and the training that they need.

But the answer cannot be to back away from trade and the global economy. It is here to stay. It's not possible to cut ourselves off

So what happened?

How did the guy who spoke so eloquently about the damage NAFTA did to manufacturing towns all across America, how did he turn into the country’s most vocal and most important supporter of the TPP?

That’s a complicated question, and there are really only two possible answers to it.

The first is that President Obama gave progressives the old bait-and-switch.

In other words, he never really wanted to renegotiate NAFTA but just said so to get elected.

So that’s one possible answer.

The other possible answer is that President Obama actually did want to renegotiate or reform NAFTA but was corrupted by big money once he got to the White House.

Either way, the story of President Obama’s “evolving” views on trade reveals a lot about our political system and what we can expect from our elected representatives.

People will say anything to get elected, and once they’re in office they’ll more likely than not follow policies that reflect what their big money donors want.

Given the reality of our post-Buckley and post-Citizens United campaign finance system, you can’t trust anybody - with the exception of maybe Bernie Sanders - to actually follow through with what they say they’re going to do.

Which is exactly why absolutely no one should believe Donald Trump when he says he says he’s opposed to so-called free trade.

I mean, President Obama said pretty much the same type of stuff when he first ran for president and look where we are now -- we’re very close to signing the biggest so-called free trade deal in American history.

And by the way, you don’t need some overarching philosophical theory of how money corrupts politics to realize that Trump is full of it on trade.

We know for a fact that when looking for running mates, the Trump campaign offered them full control over domestic and foreign policy, which, in the case of Mike Pence means that Trump will likely end up signing the TPP because Pence, like most establishment Republicans, supports the TPP.

There’s one very big takeaway from all of this: It’s time for us to start holding our politicians accountable.

There are no silver bullets in politics; there are only hard-fought victories and defeats that translate into smaller victories down the line.

So if you don’t want Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or even Barack Obama to go back on their campaign promises after the presidential election, you’ve got to get and stay politically active and let them know.

It’s nice to dream about political saviors, but it’s even better to win actual victories by going to protests, infiltrating the Democratic Party, and organizing in your community. At the end of the day, it's really all about us and our efforts...


The Glenn Beck Review's picture
The Glenn Beck ... 6 years 42 weeks ago

Obama was saying what he needed to in order to get elected, same as Hillary Clinton today. At least with Hillary, you know we're going to get screwed with "free-trade agreements" that are Trojan horses for corporate fascism. Some choice, huh? A corporate fascist v a proto-fascist.

Ergo, it's going to be #JillOrBust.

Old_Curmudgeon 6 years 42 weeks ago

That Obama Pushes for the TPP

{… a limerick …}

This tergiversation Obamanous

is a characteristic ominous

of the non-Progressive


tendency to be embalmin’ us.


Old_Curmudgeon 6 years 42 weeks ago

Looks like somebody smarter than he is composing some of Glenn Beck’s tidbits. {Reference is to the above item re Trojan horses.}

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 6 years 42 weeks ago

Voting for either party of the duopoly is to go along with the plan, it's to deliver yourself to H.G. Welles' cannibals. The political spectrum in the United States has been incrementally moving to the right because Wall Street and big business, by contributing heavily to both parties, determine the nominees of both parties. They then place a Darth Vader, monster Republican against a corporate shill Democrat forcing a choice between evils.
Bernie is not a "socialist", he's a New Dealer. 30, 40 years ago nobody would've even noticed him, he would've blended right in.
Where Trump is today the Democrats will be in another 3 or 4 election cycles.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 42 weeks ago

Regarding the TPP, I think Obama needs to hang out and drink a few beers with working class people and rethink things. He's obviously been listening to big money elites and or their representatives who can't get enough of getting more.

I don't care where they live, free trade is always an economic race to the bottom for working people. How about we instead restrain global greed with mandatory unionization of all multinationals? Why isn't Obama pushing for that?

Lately I've been wondering how similar many of these out of control big money fascists are to dangerous Don? Remember....these guys are the ones running the show now, as evidenced by Obama's view on free trade. We know the Fascists have purchased the entire Teapublic Party. Why else would an entire party deny climate change? about being on the wrong side of history, holy crap! Yet they still get votes. Oh I forgot, the Dems want to seize everyone's that's all the Teabaggers they need to raise the bar.

I just hope none of these "don't tread on me" gun wackos take Trump serious on his call for assassination.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 6 years 42 weeks ago

Still love ya, Thom, but you're getting a little crazy.
It's alright, these are crazy times.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 6 years 42 weeks ago

In the dictionary, under the entry of "bait and switch", they have Hillary's picture.

c-gull's picture
c-gull 6 years 42 weeks ago

It is called hypocrisy. And as Hannah Arendt put it "hypocrits are rotten to the core".

We have not had a real human being as president since Jimmy Carter. We now have what the corporate monsters want- a kind of hypocritical, sweet talking hollow man.

We should just shovel the whole bunch of democrats and republicans into a barrel and send it down a river we don't mind polluting and hold our noses as the stench of conservatism rises into the air.

"Conservatism discards prescription, shrinks from principle. disavows progress and having rejected all respect for antiquity, it offers no redress for the present and makes no preparation for the future". It is what Ben Disraeli called an "organized hypocrisy".

dds's picture
dds 6 years 42 weeks ago

I consider myself a 75 yr old progressive & I suggest that you Dreamers face reality, that is every time the US followed protectionism as a policy we have eventually ended up in war'

You want change stop acting like spoiled childern having a tantrum, do what Thom suggests and do what the neo cons have been doing for years. Get involved run for office fill those school boards, planning commisions, state leg!

This will not happened overnight but only YOU can make it happen

dds's picture
dds 6 years 42 weeks ago

If Bernie isn't a socialist, why did he always call himself a socialist all these years until he decided to run for President & now calls himself a Democart?

Intermittent Instigator's picture
Intermittent In... 6 years 42 weeks ago

Seem to recall that Candidate Obama suggested he'd put NAFTA in the trash where it belongs, yet dispatched an emissary to Canada(?) to reassure folks that he didn't mean a word of it... ( can look it up.)

"Both parties" - the Greens and the Libertarians?

Don't vote yellow, vote Green!

Willie W's picture
Willie W 6 years 42 weeks ago

Bob Dole. Vice Presidential Nominee way back in 1976, said it best in an interview with NPR while responding to a question about a campaign promise he had made. "Oh, you can't hold me to that. That was just campaign talk."

Rooster's picture
Rooster 6 years 42 weeks ago

Please explain how no matter what happens in the news the stock market goes UP UP UP... ALL the time. Times are tough for Americans but not for the market. How will it ever end and get that money back into circulation for the rest of us?

Greg Kramer's picture
Greg Kramer 6 years 42 weeks ago

I for one think that Obama was bought off, bribed, did a quid pro quo, whatever you want to call it. He needed the campaign contributors to "donate" to his campaign in 2008 and 2012 so he "compromised" his campaign promises. PERIOD.

Please remember that Obama was the first candidate to not accept public financing since public financing was inaugarated. Why did he do that? It is simple arithmetic as Bill Clinton so eruditely discussed endorsing Obama in 2012 at the Democratic Convention. To be sure, Obama and his team simply added up how much the uber rich and other contributors would contribute and how much they could garner from public financing and the former choice was as easy as addition and subtraction to arrive at the difference between the two choices.

When ANY politician receives a sizeable donation the contributor has at a minimum access. I suggest that viewers that can retrieve HBO watch "Meet the Donors: Does Money Talk?". After watching it you will probably wonder how could any one believe the malarky that the mega donors on the documentary suggest that they have NEVER, EVER received an economic advantage from bribing our kleptocrats.

Anyone that accepts the disembelling answers from the mega donors to Alexandra Pelosi's questions have no discernable or a very limited amount of critical, analytical skills or plain old common sense in their frontal and temporal lobes.

I would suggest that those that do buy into the plutocrats answers read the below link then decide.​

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 6 years 42 weeks ago

dds, what part of what Thom suggests must we do?

Revolutions are not made by following the plan of the elites. There is not enough difference between the parties to matter and the hard work of movement building has already been done by the Bernie campaign. The time is NOW for a third party.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 6 years 42 weeks ago

When Ralph Nader was starting to get attention at the end of the 2000 campaign and Al Gore was saying his, "If You want to put the oil companies in charge vote for my opponent but if you want somebody to fight for you against the oil companies vote for me." Joe Liebermann was on the phone to the oil companies to reassure them Gore didn't mean ANY of it.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 6 years 42 weeks ago

dds, Bernie can call himself what he wants but, objectively, he's not a socialist but a New Dealer.

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