Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Obama Lied Again

One of the key issues of this campaign has been the economic devastation that has happened to today's workers due to corporate friendly policies such as NAFTA that has sent jobs off to other countries. Obama was against it to get votes in the states hardest hit by this, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and others in the heartland, but now he's back-pedaling as this article on Alternet says:

In her interview with the candidate, Fortune's Nina Easton reminded Obama that earlier this year he had called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake" and suggested that he would use an opt-out clause in the trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico to demand changes that would be more favorable to workers and farmers in all three countries.

Obama replied, "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified" -- which would have been enough of an indication that he was backing off the stance that contributed significantly to his success in the Feb. 19 Wisconsin primary that proved to be a critical turning point for his campaign.

Now Obama is saying NAFTA is not such a bad thing after all. The sad part is that Hillary would not have done any better, her campaign had contacted the Canadians months ago to assure them that nothing she says about destroying NAFTA is true so don't worry. It was ironic that she later accused Obama of doing this very thing.

Referring to Obama's soft-pedaling of the fair-trade position he embraced in the primary campaign, Easton writes, "That tone stands in marked contrast to his primary campaign's anti-NAFTA fusillades. The pact creating a North American free-trade zone was President Bill Clinton's signature accomplishment, but NAFTA is also the bugaboo of union leaders, grassroots activists and Midwesterners who blame free trade for the factory closings they see in their hometowns.

NAFTA is one of the main low points of Bill Clinton's presidency. In many other ways he was damn good president but unfortunately someone put economic ideas in his head that made him follow right-wing economic policies, which meant deregulation and NAFTA and generally being corporate friendly instead of worker friendly. Now Obama seems to be following the same path.

As David Sirota, the author of a terrific new book on populist anger at Washington's trade and economic policies, The Uprising, correctly observes, "Here you have a policy -- NAFTA -- that is among the most unpopular policies of the last generation, according to polls. Here you have a candidate who campaigned against it in the primary. And within weeks of getting the general election, here you have that same candidate running to Corporate America's magazine of record to reassure Wall Street about that same policy. This is precisely what the populist uprising that I describe in my new book is all about -- a backlash to this kind of politics."

This is very disappointing but not unexpected. David Sirota has written before about the indicators that showed Obama was far more corporate friendly than I was comfortable with. Which is one of the big reasons I was for Edwards first, Kucinich second, and Obama was a distant third. I knew Edwards and Kucinich were against NAFTA and weanted to protect the American worker and American jobs. But once the race narrowed down to Hillary and Obama the choices were too limited to vote for a true progressive candidate and I had to settle for the least corporate of the two, though there isn't much difference between them.

If Obama does not change his tune, he's likely to get burned in Ohio, Wisconsin and other states where primary surveys showed that the vast majority of Democratic, Republican and independent voters felt that the radically pro-corporate free trade policies of the Clinton and Bush years had harmed rather than helped America.

Frankly, this doesn't make much sense since McCain would be even more for the corporation and against the workers than Obama could ever be. At the very least Obama will likely raise taxes on the wealthy which will bring our debt down and hopefully allow the dollar to gain back a little of the ground it's lost. McCain doesn't even want to do that.

The sad part is that rather than be an agent of change or someone who brings a new kind of politics to Washington he's quickly turning into just another politician.

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