When Democratic and Republican leaders announce they have fashioned a "historic" bipartisan compromise on trade, put your hand over your wallet. It probably means somebody has been sold out.
The objective of Democratic leaders seems clear: to marginalize the fair-trade dissenters, coax the party into approving more trade agreements and, above all, grant renewed fast-track authority to the President. Fast-track effectively stymies Congress's influence on trade issues, denying any chance to make changes in negotiated agreements. That's why the business lobby loves it so. That the US Chamber of Commerce is delighted with Pelosi ought to tell you something.
If House insurgents oppose Pelosi & Co., they may not have the votes to win, but they can force the Speaker into a very uncomfortable bind. She will have to win on Republican votes. That's the same game Bill Clinton played in the 1990s, enacting NAFTA and other job-killing trade agreements over opposition from the rank and file. Working people got the message--and many of them stopped voting Democratic. If the deal prevails, we predict the party will pay the same price again. Disenchanted voters will conclude, correctly, that nothing has changed in Washington.
I do not always agree with The Nation, but you can bet your ass that if The Nation is criticizing Democrats then those Democrats are about to make a huge mistake. As mentioned (and linked) above, in 2005 The Nation rightfully chastised Democrats that continued to support the Iraq War:
Most shameful has been the Democratic Party's failure to oppose the war. Indeed, support for it has been bipartisan: A Republican President and Congress made the policy, and almost all of the leading Democrats--most of the honorable exceptions are members of the House of Representatives--supported it from the outset and continue to do so.
The Nation therefore takes the following stand: We will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign. We urge all voters to join us in adopting this position. Many worry that the aftermath of withdrawal will be ugly, but we can now see that the consequences of staying will be uglier still. Fear of facing the consequences of Bush's disaster should not be permitted to excuse the creation of a worse disaster by continuing the occupation.
We firmly believe that antiwar candidates, with the other requisite credentials, can win the 2006 Congressional elections, the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries and the subsequent national election. But this fight, and our stand, must begin now.
They were right then and they are right now - Democrats on the Hill should listen to them if they want keep the party moving in the right direction...