To Hell With The Future Of Your Children & Nation: TPP House Dems Betraying Us Call For End To ‘Fratricide’

(Editor’s Note: Fascinating! House Dems like Rep. Ron Kind, who depend upon the donations, hard work and votes of middle class working families to get elected expect us to roll over and fall in line when they support something like TPP, which not only sends our jobs — and the future of our children overseas — but hands our national sovereignty over to secretive tribunals of corporate lawyers. And they accuse US of fratricide!  That’s rich! These quislings of corporate deceit deserve every act of opposition we can muster and certainly don’t deserve our respect and especially out precious vote. Keep in mind two chapters of the TPP remain secret for four years after it would go into effect. Let’s hope some good progressive decides to mount a primary challenge to Ron Kind. Mr. Kind is far more vulnerable than his arrogant betrayal of Third Congressional working families would suggest. I recently had an irate Democratic office holder ask if I thought we’d be better off with a Republican. I replied, “We already have a Republican!” Oppose TPP and oppose any democratic office holder who betrays us by supporting secrecy. Time to clean our own house. — Mark L. Taylor)

By Alex Brown

National Journal (10/12/15)

Wth a vote on con­tro­ver­sial trade le­gis­la­tion loom­ing early next year, House Demo­crats have an ur­gent mes­sage for their cam­paign al­lies: Quit at­tack­ing your own.

“We have to stop the frat­ri­cide,” said Rep. Steve Is­rael, the former chair of the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee. “It’s hard enough to go up against Shel­don Ad­el­son and the Koch broth­ers. Our mem­bers shouldn’t have to go up against Shel­don Ad­el­son, the Koch broth­ers—and [mem­bers’] friends.”

The “friends” Is­rael re­ferred to are the labor and pro­gress­ive groups that have gone after the 28 Demo­crats in the House and 13 in the Sen­ate who voted to pass Trade Pro­mo­tion Au­thor­ity in June. That meas­ure lim­its Con­gress to an up-or-down vote on the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, a 12-na­tion trade deal that will land on Cap­it­ol Hill early next year. TPP has been a key pri­or­ity of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, but is op­posed by most Demo­crats.

The AFL-CIO has been among the most vo­cal op­pon­ents of the deal, run­ning ads against Demo­crat­ic sup­port­ers like Rep. Ami Be­ra and hold­ing protests in the dis­tricts of oth­ers. The group also cut off cam­paign fund­ing for Demo­crats dur­ing the TPA fight, a move os­tens­ibly aimed at fo­cus­ing re­sources on the trade battle but one that was per­ceived as an im­pli­cit threat to would-be sup­port­ers.

Support primary challenges

Mean­while, pro­gress­ive groups like Demo­cracy for Amer­ica have tried to line up primary chal­lengers to pro-trade Demo­crats. “We will not lift a fin­ger or raise a penny to pro­tect you when you’re at­tacked in 2016, we will en­cour­age our pro­gress­ive al­lies to join us in leav­ing you to rot, and we will act­ively search for op­por­tun­it­ies to primary you with a real Demo­crat,” the group’s chair, Jim Dean, said in a state­ment fol­low­ing the vote.

But many Demo­crats in the House say that ap­proach could cost their party any shot at re­tak­ing the ma­jor­ity. “We do some­times have dis­agree­ments with­in the Demo­crat­ic caucus on is­sues, but when it comes to win­ning back the House, … we need to be sin­gu­larly fo­cused,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, who heads the DCCC’s ef­forts to pro­tect vul­ner­able in­cum­bents—sev­er­al of whom voted for TPA. “The best thing for work­ing people in this coun­try and the best thing for or­gan­ized labor in this coun­try would be get­ting Demo­crats back in­to the ma­jor­ity.”

For its part, the AFL-CIO says its “at­tacks” have not been elect­or­al chal­lenges but is­sue cam­paigns de­signed to change mem­bers’ minds. Wheth­er or not those mem­bers face at­tacks dur­ing primary sea­son is up to labor lead­ers in their dis­tricts. “There’s an as­sump­tion that this is driv­en from Wash­ing­ton,” said Bill Samuel, the uni­on’s gov­ern­ment-af­fairs dir­ect­or. “The people who knock on doors and make the phone calls, … the de­cision’s go­ing to be theirs.”

He ad­ded that people will al­ways de­bate where labor should spend its re­sources. “You could make that ar­gu­ment that you should sup­port any Demo­crat, re­gard­less of how poor their vot­ing re­cord is, in or­der to make Nancy Pelosi speak­er,” he said. “I really want to make Nancy Pelosi speak­er. It’s a hard ar­gu­ment to make in a spe­cif­ic dis­trict with the con­stitu­ents of a mem­ber with a poor vot­ing re­cord.” Mem­bers who are fa­cing pres­sure after their TPA vote, Samuel  said, could go a long way to­ward re­as­sur­ing their al­lies by vot­ing against TPP.

Borrow a backbone & vote like a Democrat, dammit!

Oth­er trade-deal op­pon­ents have been less meas­ured in their re­sponses. “It’s ab­so­lutely ab­surd to ask any­one who cares about in­come in­equal­ity … to ig­nore a very clear be­tray­al like this vote for fast-track au­thor­ity,” said Demo­cracy for Amer­ica’s Neil Sroka. “They’re liv­ing in a fanta­sy­land if they think or­gan­iz­a­tions like ours are just go­ing to ig­nore these votes.”

Sroka ad­ded that elect­or­al vic­tor­ies are hol­low if they only em­power Demo­crats who vote with the oth­er party. “Demo­crats would be best served by vot­ing like Demo­crats and ac­tu­ally stand­ing up and fight­ing for work­ing fam­il­ies,” he said. His group will be ur­ging al­lies not to give to the DCCC or any oth­er or­gan­iz­a­tions that may end up fund­ing trade sup­port­ers.

DCCC Chair­man Ben Ray Lu­jan was care­ful not to call out any Demo­crat­ic al­lies, and he said out­side groups are free to use their re­sources as they please. But he did re­mind labor that Demo­crats have been their strongest al­lies on a num­ber of polit­ic­al is­sues. “I’d en­cour­age our friends in labor that, as we look for part­ner­ships down the road and we ad­voc­ate to make sure that people get a fair wage for a hard day’s work, … those are is­sues that as Demo­crats we share with labor,” he said.

That sen­ti­ment isn’t new. In June, Minor­ity Whip Steny Hoy­er said he had “urged our friends in labor to have re­spect for the de­cisions of mem­bers.” He lis­ted off is­sues like col­lect­ive bar­gain­ing and the min­im­um wage where Demo­crats have worked to boost labor’s goals.

Even some pro­gress­ives have called for the in­fight­ing to stop. “We thought they took a wrong vote, and the con­se­quences of that vote are in their dis­trict,” said Rep. Raul Gri­jalva, who chairs the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gress­ive Caucus. “But in terms of us ral­ly­ing around to de­feat them, we’re not in­to that. It’s a strategy that in the short term might sat­is­fy the an­ger, but in the long term doesn’t bring us any num­bers to this House.”

Don’t hold me accountable

Of course, the Demo­crats who voted for the trade deal also be­lieve they shouldn’t be un­der at­tack. “Frankly, I think it’s mis­guided and Demo­crats should be help­ing oth­er Demo­crats,” said Rep. Mike Quigley. “It’s a los­ing game any­way, be­cause the pres­id­ent of the United States is solidly 100 per­cent with the Demo­crats who sup­por­ted him on this deal. They’ve got to worry about win­ning back the Sen­ate, try­ing to win the pres­id­ent’s race, try­ing to win back the House. And in­stead fo­cus­ing their mis­guided an­ger on fel­low Demo­crats is a ter­rible mis­take.”

Be­ra, who has faced per­haps more pres­sure than any­one, said he is still mak­ing up his mind on TPP. But he said the at­tacks against him are a mis­use of re­sources. “I al­ways think it’s bet­ter for Demo­crats to fo­cus on get­ting the House back, hold­ing on to the seats that we have and pick­ing up the seats that are in play,” he said.

Samuel said Be­ra’s case is an ex­ample of the Demo­crats who have “burned bridges” by vot­ing against the act­iv­ists who got them elec­ted. “It’s a good ex­ample of where the re­la­tion­ship is really dam­aged,” he said. “Most of our act­iv­ists would like to see the Demo­crats take back con­trol, … but they’re also really dis­ap­poin­ted in him. The re­la­tion­ship will either be re­built or it won’t.”

Ad­ded Sroka: “If Demo­crats fail to re­take the House, they need to ser­i­ously look at [trade] as one of the reas­ons they failed to do it. … If Ami Be­ra is de­feated, it’s not be­cause pro­gress­ives didn’t stand up and de­fend Ami Be­ra. It’s be­cause Ami Be­ra took a vote that makes it im­possible for any­one who cares for work­ing fam­il­ies in this coun­try to sup­port him.”

Not­ably, Rep. Debbie Wasser­man Schultz, who heads the Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee and voted for TPA, said she has heard noth­ing about such a back­lash—an is­sue on which every oth­er mem­ber of the House seems to have an opin­ion. She said she met re­cently with labor lead­ers, in­clud­ing the AFL-CIO, without it com­ing up. “I’ve hon­estly not heard any threat what­so­ever to any Demo­crat re­lated to the trade deal,” she said. “I have a hard time com­ment­ing on something that I haven’t heard.”

Still, many of the oth­er mem­bers in her caucus say the fo­cus should be on win­ning the House—not a single trade vote. “I have com­mit­ted to mak­ing sure we win back the ma­jor­ity, and that starts with re­turn­ing in­cum­bent Demo­crats in swing dis­tricts—in­clud­ing those that I some­times dis­agree with,” Kildee said. “Ob­vi­ously, I think this is im­port­ant to labor, and I think they should take a strong po­s­i­tion. … But I think we should fo­cus on the long-term battle as well as the short-term battle.”

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