Deval Patrick, Others To Advise Astroturf Pro-TPP/Fast Track Group

Dave Johnson

Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick will head an advisory board for the Astroturf group called the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs. This group was formed to push for passage of fast track trade authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Also joining the advisory group are former Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire and former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

The Hill reports that the three will advice the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs (PCAJ), “a new effort launched by Democrats and progressives to push for free trade.” The Associated Press, in “Top Democrats on new pro-trade board will sharpen differences among liberals, blacks,” says, “The effort will sharpen differences between the Democratic Party’s liberal and pro-business wings, especially in New England. And it could accelerate the effort to woo black lawmakers, a key target in the House.”

Group Claims TPP Will Increase Exports and Jobs, Doesn’t Mention Imports And Job Loss

The PCAJ website makes various claims about the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The website promises that TPP will “create high-quality, higher-paying jobs here at home by increasing export opportunities for American-made goods and services.”

However, there is no mention of balancing trade. Previous trade deals have increased exports, while increasing imports even more. The resulting trade deficit measures a loss of jobs, factories and living standards. The wage differential between what the laid-off U.S. workers were paid and what the low-wage, non-U.S. workers will be paid is pocketed by a few CEOs and Wall Street types, exacerbating our country’s terrible income and wealth inequality.

The PCAJ fact sheet says that TPP “would support hundreds of thousands of new high-quality jobs.” However, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker examined this claim in January, in “The Obama administration’s illusionary job gains from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” The Post concluded, “Administration officials earn Four Pinocchios for their fishy math.”

Previous Trade Agreements Cost Jobs

Previous “free trade” agreements have cost jobs and increased the trade deficit. For example, the recent Korea-U.S. “free-trade” agreement has already increased the trade deficit and cost jobs. Ari Rabin-Havt provides the numbers in “Why We Should Be Skeptical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership” at RH Reality Check:

Three years since ratification of the Korea treaty, we can ask ourselves how it is living up to its promise. Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch recently released a fact sheet updating the performance of the Korea Free Trade Association, and there appears to be a misalignment between rhetoric and reality.

Over the past three years, “the U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea has ballooned an estimated 84 percent, or $12.7 billion.” Using the administration’s own “trade-jobs ratio” this cost our economy “nearly 85,000 American jobs.”

What’s more, far from the promised panacea of newly opened markets leading to increased access for U.S. manufacturers, “U.S. goods exports to Korea have fallen an estimated 5 percent, or $2.2 billion,” according to Global Trade Watch. During the same period, imports from Korea increased by $10.5 billion.

Progressives Skeptical Of So-Called “Progressive Coalition”

Jim Hightower explains why progressives are skeptical of this new organization and its divisive arguments, in, “Shilling for the Biggest Trade Flim-Flam in History

Written in gobbledygook, [TPP] was negotiated in secret by corporate lobbyists and government lawyers. Even Congress doesn’t know what’s in it, but the White House wants to hustle the TPP into law through a super-rushed, rubber-stamp process called “fast track.”

No need to be suspicious, though, claims a group called the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs. They assure us that this global deal “will support hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the United States.”

Hello — do we have sucker wrappers around our heads? That’s the exact same claim that Bill Clinton made for NAFTA, which siphoned hundreds of thousands of jobs out of the United States.

While the organization describes itself as a “coalition” of pro-TPP “progressive groups, the group has not named any members of the coalition.

From the post, “A Trade Campaign Built On Four Pinocchios“:

The campaign’s name implies it represents a “coalition.” It doesn’t name any organizations in the coalition. (Is it a coalition of Wall Street, the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable?) But there is a huge coalition against Fast Track. Look at the list of progressives organization in the Stop Fast Track coalition, and then there’s the coalition of faith groups opposing fast track, the Trade Justice coalition, this food safety coalition opposing fast track, this Media Rights coalition opposing fast track, this coalition of liberty groups opposing fast track, this coalition of agriculture and business groups opposing fast track, and the Civil Society coalition, the No Fast Track coalition, the Washington Fair Trade coalition, the National Family Farm Coalition, and others.

Still No Response

In that March 11 post I offered to post any response from the group:

I reached out to 270 Strategies, the organization behind this Fast Track/TPP campaign, through several channels to ask who is in the coalition, ask who is funding the campaign and to see if they have access to the secret treaty to enable them to make various claims they say are based on what is in TPP. I also let them know that I would add to this post any statement they wanted me to include. After initially reaching someone, there was no further response after more than 24 hours of repeated inquiries via phone and to multiple contact addresses.

I wanted to know:
• 1. Who is in the coalition?
• 2. Who is funding the campaign?
• 3. Has anyone at 270 read the TPP agreement?

So if there is a coalition, the membership list remains a secret – like the text of the TPP. And the answers to the other questions remain unknown. But the claim that it is a coalition doesn’t get a “strike three” until I hear back from 270 Strategies – and I will report their response if and when I do.

New Questions

So far no one from PCAJ or 270 Strategies has publicly offered answers to these questions, or provided a public statement. If they offer answers or any statement I will post it verbatim.

Meanwhile the new announcement brings up some new questions.

● The PCAJ group is being described as “pro-trade progressives” and “pro-business” in reports. Is PCAJ saying that progressives who are opposed to Fast Track and TPP are “anti-trade” and “anti-business?”

● The Associated Press says the idea of adding these particular advisors is to “accelerate the effort to woo black lawmakers, a key target in the House.” Why would African Americans, whose unemployment rates (10.4 percent) are still running almost twice the national average and whose earnings are substantially below the national average, support a trade deal that is written to the specifications of multinational corporations, not for the benefit of struggling American communities, and would threaten more American jobs than would be created?

Answers would be appreciated. Progressives remain skeptical.

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