Does Clinton Have Issues With Unions And The TPP?

The likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has yet to show her feelings towards the latest effort to pass “fast track” trade promotion authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

However, that could happen as soon as Monday morning when she takes the stage with prominent labor leaders at a Washington event put on by a liberal-leaning political think tank.

What she says could improve or worsen her position with unions, Democratic colleagues in Congress, the business community, and/or the sitting president, Barack Obama.

Liberal Democrats urging Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to get in the presidential race want Clinton to clarify her position as early as possible, given the fact that there is pending action in Congress on a “fast track” trade promotion authority bill, said Neil Sroka, a spokesman for Democracy for America.

Sroka said that some of the first questions she is asked as a presidential candidate could be about TPP and fast track.

“There’s lots of reasons that people are excited about getting Elizabeth Warren into the presidential race, but her outspokenness in the battle against TPP … is something that speaks to the progressive base’s concerns and is attracting people to this campaign.”

Union groups, including the AFL-CIO labor federation, also have deep concerns about the prospective trade pact with Japan and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific that, along with the United States, represent more than 40 percent of world gross domestic product.

“Every single thing in our trade deals should be openly discussed and subject to public oversight and the full legislative process,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a recent speech. “There should be no question about that. Fast track is wrong and undemocratic. It’s a rotten process, and the American labor movement intends to kill it.”

The labor federation fears the deal will encourage companies to move more jobs overseas, suppressing wages in the United States.

Obama wants Congress to approve the legislation quickly so he can wrap up the TPP pact and submit it to Congress for a vote later this year.

Trade promotion authority would allow him to submit trade agreements, like the proposed TPP, to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote without any amendments.

The next president – whoever it is – could also use the authority to negotiate a deal bringing China into the pact.

Trade promotion authority is also known as “fast track” because of its expedited voting procedures that union groups and many progressive Democrats don’t like.

Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, used the “fast track” procedure to win approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute blames for hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

Clinton voted against the fast-track legislation the last time it was approved in 2002, although her husband repeatedly pushed for the same authority when he was president.

However, as Obama’s secretary of state, Clinton was closely associated with the agreement.


(Updated article)

The Harsh Conditions Of Mexican Farm Workers

How does produce from Mexico go from the fields to Americans’ plates?

A new Los Angeles Times report details the work conditions of many Mexican farm laborers.

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry talks about it with Richard Marosi of the LA Times.

MSNBC video.

Big Political Influence of Big Box Stores

Big Box retail stores like Walmart and Home Depot have always been willing to give large sums of money to politicians. And that money has bought them a lot of political favors.

Mike Papantonio talks about the big box return on investment with attorney Dave TeSelle.

Ring of Fire video.

November U-5 Unemployment Rate: 6.8%

The U-5 unemployment rate for November is 6.8%, and seasonally-adjusted, it would be 7.1%.

The “official” unemployment rate is the U3 unemployment rate, but it used to be the U5 unemployment rate.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics revised the Current Population Survey in 1994, and among the changes made was the measure representing the official unemployment rate.  It was changed from U3 to U5.

Here are some explanations of various unemployment classifications:

U-3 – Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate).

U-4 – Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers.

U-5 – Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.

The official U3 unemployment rate does not include “discouraged workers.”

“Discouraged workers” are people of legal employment age who are not actively seeking employment or who do not find employment after long-term unemployment.

Wikipedia states: “…even if a person is still looking actively for a job, that person may have fallen out of the core statistics of unemployment rate after long-term unemployment. and is therefore by default classified as ‘discouraged.’”

Also, U3 unemployment does not include persons marginally attached to the labor force, or “marginally attached workers.”

The BLS defines “marginally attached workers” as “Persons not in the labor force who want and are available for work, and who have looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months (or since the end of their last job if they held one within the past 12 months), but were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Discouraged workers are a subset of the marginally attached.”

It has also been claimed that other countries such as Germany include the “marginally attached worker” and “discouraged worker” in their official unemployment rate calculations.

Considering the fact that prior to 1994, the unemployment rate used to be the U5 rate and that other countries include the “marginally attached” and “discouraged worker” in their statistics, the U5 rate might be considered more appropriate than the “official” U3 rate.

Russell Brand Talks Labor Party Politics

Who is Ed Miliband?

According to Wikipedia:

“Edward Samuel ‘Ed’ Miliband (born 24 December 1969) is a British Labor Party politician, currently the Leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Doncaster North since 2005 and served in the Cabinet from 2007 to 2010 under Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He and his brother, David Miliband, were the first siblings to sit in the Cabinet simultaneously since Edward, Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley, and Oliver Stanley in 1938.”

An analysis of an interview with Ed Miliband after a survey found just 41% of the UK public would vote in the next election, 23% were satisfied with the way MPs are doing their job and only 18% trust politicians to tell the truth.