The economic lobbyist community known as The Big Club is represented most visibly by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Tom Donohue.
Via the Wall Street community, CoC President Donohue pours tens of millions of multinational corporate contributions into DC lobbying efforts to retain control over politicians and legislation that relates to U.S. trade and economic matters. [FYI Donohue’s Chamber of Commerce lobbying group were the primary architects of the now dispatched TPP trade deal; they actually wrote the U.S. part of the construct.]
Tom Donohue funds a large number of politicians in DC in an effort to control the outcomes of legislation and policies that could become adverse to his multinational interests. Two of those primary beneficiaries are John McCain and Ben Sasse.
As a consequence it doesn’t come as a surprise to see McCain and Sasse announce their intention to block the confirmation of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer:
REUTERS – Republican U.S. Senators John McCain and Ben Sasse said on Wednesday they would vote against President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, because of his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Unfortunately, your confirmation process has failed to reassure us that you understand the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) positive economic benefits to our respective States and the nation as a whole,” McCain and Sasse said in a letter to Lighthizer. (read more)
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and President Trump strongly support Lighthizer for U.S. Trade Rep. The institutional control agents within K-Street, aka the economic lobbying group, do not.
The bottom line arguments center around retention of global multinational economic interests that are antithetical to President Trump’s ‘America-First’ economic and trade platform. 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.
Unfortunately, when you know the con it can explode your blood pressure to fully grasp how much we are getting ripped off. Especially when you read their insufferable reasoning to keep the current system in place.
So knowing that, here’s the letter of opposition from McCain and Sasse who are being paid by these lobbying entities to retain this controlled market system:
Dear Mr. Lighthizer,
We write to explain our intent to oppose your nomination to be United States Trade Representative (USTR). Unfortunately, your confirmation process has failed to reassure us that you understand the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) positive economic benefits to our respective States and the nation as a whole. We fear that you do not have an appreciation for the millions of jobs created by this free trade deal, and that you would not champion agriculture during your time as USTR. Furthermore, we worry that you would not negotiate trade deals that would protect the American consumer and expand economic growth. These concerns, along with the need for Congress to grant you a waiver to serve in the Trump Administration in a must-pass omnibus spending bill is troubling.
Beyond your vocal advocacy for protectionist shifts in our trade policies, the Administration’s ongoing, incoherent, and inconsistent trade message has compounded our concern. This is especially troubling because confirming a USTR grants the Administration additional legal authority to negotiate trade deals that Congress must consider under “fast track” procedures. Given these circumstances, granting the Trump Administration additional legal powers through your confirmation without understanding how you or the Administration intend to use those powers would be irresponsible.
A constant theme throughout your confirmation process has been your failure to grasp the importance of protecting agriculture in trade negotiations. Your meeting with one of us (Senator Sasse) did nothing to disabuse of us this notion. America needs a USTR who will effectively defend agriculture during trade negotiations and fight to expand agricultural export markets, not let America’s farmers and ranchers become collateral damage in a trade war.
You also have made your skepticism of NAFTA well known, which we find to be alarming. America deserves a USTR who will renegotiate NAFTA in order to build on its successes, not as a pretext for unraveling it. Mexico and Canada are two of our largest export markets and the free movement of goods is essential to the growth of our national economy. For example, Mexico is Arizona’s number one trading partner, accounting for 40 percent of the State’s exports to foreign markets. This is due to the free trade policies in NAFTA that create fewer trade barriers with Canada and Mexico, which makes it easier for Americans to make a living and provide for their families. Further, according to the Nebraska Farm Bureau, a withdrawal from NAFTA could cost Nebraska farmers and ranchers more than $2.6 billion per year in agricultural exports. Increasing trade barriers with Canada and Mexico, and risking a trade war, only hurts American families and small businesses.
The Trump Administration’s incoherent and inconsistent trade posture to date makes it impossible for us to overlook our concerns with your nomination. On April 29, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that required the Secretary of Commerce and the USTR, in consultation with several federal agencies, to “conduct comprehensive performance reviews” of all of the United States’ free trade agreements and “renegotiate or terminate” policies that the Administration believes are harmful to the United States. This executive order was signed only days after the release of troubling reports of the Trump Administration’s preparations to withdraw from NAFTA. Reports that the Administration is even considering withdrawal from NAFTA is contrary to previous statements from key Administration officials – including Dr. Peter Navarro, Secretary Wilbur Ross,  and Secretary Steve Mnuchin, – that NAFTA would only be up for re-negotiation, not withdrawal. These disjointed positions are causing great uncertainty over the Administration’s trade objectives.
Moreover, this incoherent and protectionist message on trade has caused serious uncertainty for export markets, and has harmed our valuable relationships with Canada and Mexico. The Administration’s actions may also encourage our trading partners to move their markets elsewhere, especially if they believe that future negotiations will hurt their interests. For example, Mexican officials have cited the possible re-negotiation of NAFTA as a major reason why they are currently pursuing actions to import less corn from the U.S. and more from other nations, including Argentina and Brazil.
Other countries may follow Mexico’s suit. For example, China continues to advance the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a regional multilateral trade agreement in the Pacific that includes our current FTA partners, South Korea and Australia, as well as Japan, a potential FTA partner. According to the Congressional Research Service, should the RCEP move forward in its current form, the “United States would face higher tariffs in RCEP markets” and thus many of our trading partners could run to RCEP markets under trade rules set by China.
Confirming your nomination would allow the Trump Administration to negotiate “fast track” trade agreements, a power that Congress granted the executive branch in the 2015 reauthorization of TPA. For us to consider the complete implications of confirming you, the Administration would need to provide Congress with clear trade objectives with respect to: 1) the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as well as a timeline for upcoming negotiations; 2) other free trade agreements (FTA); and 3) future FTAs, including which countries the Administration intends to pursue trade negotiations and timelines on those intended negotiations.
We hope the future actions and the Administration’s future actions will prove us wrong. The economic well-being of consumers, small businesses, farmers, and ranchers across our country depend upon it.
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse
U.S. Senator John McCain
Now you can see why this same group of usurping senators are refusing to accept the NAFTA letter of intent from Secretary Ross. We have to fight these jackasses head on. The first step in fighting them is to understand the rigged system they control and why they are controlling it…. that is currently important battle-space.