Robert Lighthizer Confirmed as U.S. Trade Representative – Senate Vote: 82-14

All positions have some bearing on the average American; however, some confirmation votes are more directly tied to the well-being of ordinary people than others.  This confirmation will directly and specifically make the lives of middle-class workers, and ordinary American people, improve.

Thank you to those who contacted their Senator and applied the pressure.  There was a great deal of feedback received by the senate in the past 24 hours.  There are those within the swamp lobbying community who are beginning to understand that WE KNOW far more than they ever thought we know.  Change is a direct consequence of that reality.

In a strong showing of bi-partisan support for Trump’s ‘America First’ trade platform the nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, was confirmed by the Senate with a vote of 82-14.  The U.S. Trade Representative is a critical position ahead of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Three Republicans voted NO: ♦Cory Gardner (Colorado), ♦John McCain (Arizona), and ♦Ben Sasse (Nebraska).

For the past 30 years Lighthizer has been a trade lawyer representing American steel companies in their efforts to fight dumping of foreign-made steel below costs and unfair steel subsidies from foreign governments. He has pledged to strengthen enforcement of existing trade deals and to find new legal tools to combat unfair trade practices.

Lighthizer has criticized some Republicans for being too pro-free trade. He told a Senate panel this year that the U.S. should have an “America first trade policy.”  “We can do better in negotiating our trade agreements and stronger in enforcing our trade laws,” he said.

(Reuters) […]  [President]  Trump has said the 23-year-old trade pact devastated U.S. workers and has vowed to tear it up if he fails to get a better deal.

Some Democrats, while critical of Trump’s own views on trade, said they were confident Lighthizer, who served in the Reagan administration as deputy U.S. Trade Representative, would work to help U.S. workers.

“He’s a real pro,” Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said before voting in favor of Lighthizer’s nomination.

Lighthizer’s approval came despite the objections of two Republican senators, John McCain of Arizona and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who said they were worried Lighthizer did not appreciate NAFTA’s benefits.

While the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico has ballooned since the trade deal was enacted in 1994, U.S. farmers have profited from exports to America’s southern neighbor while automakers have cut costs by building cross-border supply chains that benefit from lower Mexican wages.

Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and voted in favor of Lighthizer’s nomination, also urged the incoming trade representative to be careful not to put at risk the gains NAFTA has brought.  (read more)

Here’s how they voted.

Voted NO:

Blumenthal (D-CT), Nay
Gardner (R-CO), Nay
Gillibrand (D-NY), Nay
Harris (D-CA), Nay
Markey (D-MA), Nay
McCain (R-AZ), Nay
Merkley (D-OR), Nay
Reed (D-RI), Nay
Sanders (I-VT), Nay
Sasse (R-NE), Nay
Schatz (D-HI), Nay
Schumer (D-NY), Nay
Warren (D-MA), Nay
Whitehouse (D-RI), Nay

Voted Yes:

Alexander (R-TN), Yea – Baldwin (D-WI), Yea – Barrasso (R-WY), Yea – Bennet (D-CO), Yea – Blunt (R-MO), Yea – Booker (D-NJ), Yea – Boozman (R-AR), Yea – Brown (D-OH), Yea – Burr (R-NC), Yea – Cantwell (D-WA), Yea – Capito (R-WV), Not Voting – Cardin (D-MD), Yea – Carper (D-DE), Yea – Casey (D-PA), Yea – Cassidy (R-LA), Yea – Cochran (R-MS), Yea – Collins (R-ME), Yea – Coons (D-DE), Yea – Corker (R-TN), Yea – Cornyn (R-TX), Yea – Cortez Masto (D-NV), Yea – Cotton (R-AR), Yea – Crapo (R-ID), Yea – Cruz (R-TX), Yea – Daines (R-MT), Yea – Donnelly (D-IN), Yea – Duckworth (D-IL), Yea – Durbin (D-IL), Yea – Enzi (R-WY), Yea – Ernst (R-IA), Yea – Feinstein (D-CA), Yea – Fischer (R-NE), Yea – Flake (R-AZ), Yea – Franken (D-MN), Yea – Graham (R-SC), Yea – Grassley (R-IA), Yea – Hassan (D-NH), Yea – Hatch (R-UT), Yea – Heinrich (D-NM), Yea – Heitkamp (D-ND), Yea – Heller (R-NV), Yea – Hirono (D-HI), Yea – Hoeven (R-ND), Yea – Inhofe (R-OK), Yea – Isakson (R-GA), Not Voting – Johnson (R-WI), Yea – Kaine (D-VA), Yea – Kennedy (R-LA), Yea – King (I-ME), Yea – Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea – Lankford (R-OK), Yea – Leahy (D-VT), Yea – Lee (R-UT), Yea – Manchin (D-WV), Yea – McCaskill (D-MO), Yea – McConnell (R-KY), Yea – Menendez (D-NJ), Yea – Moran (R-KS), Yea – Murkowski (R-AK), Not Voting – Murphy (D-CT), Yea – Murray (D-WA), Yea – Nelson (D-FL), Yea – Paul (R-KY), Yea – Perdue (R-GA), Yea – Peters (D-MI), Yea – Portman (R-OH), Yea – Risch (R-ID), Yea – Roberts (R-KS), Yea – Rounds (R-SD), Yea – Rubio (R-FL), Yea – Scott (R-SC), Yea – Shaheen (D-NH), Yea – Shelby (R-AL), Yea – Stabenow (D-MI), Yea – Strange (R-AL), Yea – Sullivan (R-AK), Not Voting – Tester (D-MT), Yea – Thune (R-SD), Yea – Tillis (R-NC), Yea – Toomey (R-PA), Yea – Udall (D-NM), Yea – Van Hollen (D-MD), Yea – Warner (D-VA), Yea – Wicker (R-MS), Yea – Wyden (D-OR), Yea – Young (R-IN), Yea

K-Street wants to retain three decades of Wall Street control over trade to position the multinational interests as a priority.  President Trump wants to break K-Streets lobbying grip and work trade policies that benefit Main Street, not Wall Street.

The issue(s) behind the argument is/are complex, and the political lobbying expenditures only compound the matter.  In essence over the past three decades large portions of U.S. agriculture have been sold to multinational corporations.  With control over production principles, those multinational corporations manipulate the market value of U.S. agricultural outputs to retain the highest profit margin.

It is not a free market system, it’s a controlled market system; and the control is not domestic ownership, it’s multinational corporations.  Part of the way they control the pricing of U.S. agriculture outputs is through export control; the traditional supply and demand commodity equation is non-existent.

This is not a free market.  When multinational corporations control commodity pricing, it is not a free market.  The paradigm that everyone needs to remember is that a free market doesn’t exist because the owners (control agents) of the market are not independent – they are massive institutional multinational corporations.  Through heavy handed contracts pushed on farmers they control the product from field to processing and beyond.

The export of domestic food production is a big part of the reason why U.S. food prices have skyrocketed in the past decade.  The corporations factor in an ability for the U.S. to afford higher prices than alternative destination nations; they know you have the ability to pay more, so they export more and recipient nations pay less.

Again, it’s a complex dynamic but this also ties into the same groups lobbying for increased consumer welfare payments on SNAP and EBT (food stamp) legislation.  Yes, multinational corporations -who control agriculture- lobby congress to fund more subsidy payments for food.  This allows them to export more, tighten the domestic supply, drive up U.S. pricing and increase their profit.  It’s a deeply tentacled controlled process toward increasing the bottom line profit margin of the Wall Street entities.

They have more to export (they make more money), and they drive up the domestic pricing (they make more money), and they pay the lobbyists for welfare legislation to subsidize U.S. food pricing (they make more money).   That’s the basic scheme, and when you know the financial con you can spot their motives.


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