Mudslinging between Democrats continued over the May 9-10 weekend and on May 11. Liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was apparently not amused by President Barack Obama’s contention that she is “wrong” about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the associated “fast-track” negotiating legislation being discussed in Congress. Republicans are largely on board with the president on legislation that will remain secret until it is actually signed into law. Warren said in an interview published in the Washington Post that "If the president is so confident it's a good deal, he should declassify the text and let people see it before asking Congress to tie its hands on fixing it."
 
Warren says she wants the details of the Pacific trade talks made public so that experts can find out if a resulting pact could weaken U.S. laws.  She joins Sen. Bernie Sanders, a independent who caucuses with the Democrats, on the party’s left wing on this and other issues. Following Obama’s appearance at the corporate headquarters of shoe manufacturer Nike, Sanders’s website referred to TPP as a “job-killing trade agreement.” In his released statement, Sanders said, “The president at Nike headquarters told us that every trade union in America is wrong, that progressives working for years for working families are wrong and that corporate America, the pharmaceutical industry and Wall Street are right. I respectfully disagree.”
 
The White House agenda for foreign trade, as part of Obama’s so-called “pivot to Asia,” includes the cornerstone TPP, which brings together 12 countries including Japan and Chile, but not China. 
 
On May 11, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told the media that the Obama administration and Warren are in "substantive disagreement." He added, "The president was blunt about the fact that some of her facts were wrong," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a press briefing.
 
Warren has said the so-called “fast-track” would allow Congress to approve or reject trade deals but not alter specific provisions could be used by a future Republican president to weaken Wall Street reforms.  Warren and thirteen fellow Democrats in the Senate wrote to the U.S. Trade Representative to demand that Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Mexico, for example, should change their local labor laws before getting any benefits of TPP. Democrats also fear that TPP will hurt the interests of American workers. The AFL-CIO, for example, has come out strong against TPP. Released on May 8, the Democrat senators’ letter said, "American workers cannot compete against workers in these countries where fundamental worker rights are not protected."  In the House of Representatives, at least 151 Democrats signed a letter expressing opposition to TPP.
 
Among Democrats expressing concern over TPP, and Obama's remarks, is revered Rep. Sander Levin who represents suburban metro Detroit MI. Writing in Huffington Post, Levin said "So I have deep concern -- and some dismay -- when the president says that 'we are just wrong,' or we are 'satisfied with the status quo,' or worse, we are 'making this stuff up' when we express concerns about the status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations. House Democrats know a progressive trade agreement when we see it because we are the ones who built the foundation. We think the TPP agreement, as it stands today, falls short of what is needed. And we don't want to give up our leverage by granting "fast-track" authority until we know that TPP is on the right track."
 
White House spokesman Josh Earnest responded to Democrats’ concerns saying that they need to relent on their "reflexive" opposition. He added, "We're optimistic about our ability to win over the support and votes of a number of Democrats."
 
For his troubles, Obama reportedly received a pair of Jordan 11 Lab 4 basketball shoes while visiting Nike headquarters.


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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