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Ellen Tauscher Does NOT Share My Values

by: babaloo

Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 10:15:00 AM PST

(Another excellent take on Tauscher - promoted by juls)

Last year, after most of the members of Ellen Tauscher's New Democrat Coalition made a rare break with their globalist dogma to vote against CAFTA, NDC leaders scurried to assure K Street lobbyists that the Coalition was still on board to promote future free trade agreements.  At the time Roll Call (subscription only) carried this story:

[T]he centrist House New Democrat Coalition is reasserting itself with the business community and sending the message that it has not abandoned its support for opening up global markets.

The first sign of the 43-member coalition's efforts came late last week when the New Democrat leadership met privately with high-profile business lobbyists to negotiate the terms of an upcoming free trade agreement with Thailand.

That session, the New Democrats say, was the first of many meetings with K Street to help troubleshoot trade deals that are set to come before Congress.

"We want to be sure the business community knows that we are at the ready to work with them, and we are interested in working with them," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher (Calif.), chairwoman of the New Democrats. […]

Now, the New Democrats are looking to help fine-tune future agreements, including those involving Thailand, the Andean nations, Panama and others. Tauscher said her group is "engaged" and "in the game" when it comes to helping put together upcoming trade policies.

Rep. Artur Davis (Ala.), a New Democrat co-chairman, said the group has a long history of supporting small-scale trade agreements, including those with Chile and Singapore, as well as major deals, such as fast-track trade negotiating authority for the president and Permanent Normal Trade Relations status for China.

babaloo :: Ellen Tauscher Does NOT Share My Values
One Republican lobbyist who was initially disappointed when the New Democrats bucked K Street to oppose CAFTA last year, made  this comment about the business/NDC relationship:

New Democrats since then "have been reaching out" and trying to find common ground with K Street.

The lobbyist added, however, that the test will come over time as New Democrats stay true to the center even if it means bucking their own party to support Republican ideas.

Now, I think most of us understand the problems presented by CAFTA that forced even Tauscher and the New Democrats to vote against it.  But what about these "small-scale trade agreements"?  What, exactly are their ramifications?  Well, let's start with the most recent FTA which was passed by the House just a few days ago. David Sirota wrote last Friday about the passage of the Vietnam Free Trade Agreement earlier in the day:

The House tonight caved to K Street and passed the Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. I received a copy of the New Democrats' press release trumpeting the passage. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) claims that the deal "will help American workers and our economy by opening up a huge market for American industrial and agricultural goods and services."

Sirota then went on to quote from BusinessWeek regarding the benefits to American businesses that will be relocating their operations to Vietnam to take advantage of the bill passed by Tauscher and her NDC cohorts:

A big reason for the change is rock-bottom wages. As labor shortages in some regions of China drive up costs, factory hands in parts of the mainland can earn more than five times the $55 per month that Vietnamese workers in foreign-owned factories are paid. That differential is a big reason why Sparton Corp. (SPA ) of Jackson, Mich., chose Vietnam over China last year when it made its first investment outside North America. It sank $8 million into a 50,000-square-foot plant to produce chemical diagnostic equipment. "I think productivity and quality will far exceed the U.S.," says Jason Craft, managing director of Sparton subsidiary Spartronics Vietnam Co.

But it's not just American manufacturing jobs that are being outsourced to foreign countries under these agreements.  American farmers are also under the gun, being forced to compete for market share with crops produced in other countries.  American commodity producers are increasingly finding themselves in a bind, according to Jeff Gargiulo, CEO of Sunkist, a cooperative of US citrus growers:

Almost half the produce sold in the United States today is grown outside its borders. American producers face increasing competition as the domestic markets are opened to more imports.

Those low-cost products, entering virtually duty free, put American producers at a substantial competitive disadvantage, says Gargiulo. Sunkist lemons grown in California and Arizona, for example, command about $16.50 per 40-pound box wholesale, while lemons transported from Chile earn about $13.50 per box. The major reason for the difference is the average hourly cost for farm and packinghouse labor. In Chile, it's less than $1 vs. $16 in Sunkist country.

Couple this increasing domestic competition with stagnant export opportunities due to foreign tariff barriers, and American fresh citrus growers face enormous competitive challenges.

Obviously, Tauscher's highly touted free trade agreements are mostly fair to business, not to labor or Americans concerned with earning a living wage so that they can support themselves and their families.

Finally, not content to just ship American jobs overseas, Tauscher and the New Democrats  have supported these "small-scale" free trade agreements which undermine American workers right here in America.  Under the terms of the Chilean, Singaporean and, now, Vietnamese agreements which are to serve as a model for the future Thai, Andean and Panamanian agreements, an unlimited number of workers may enter the US workforce on L-1 visas.  So what, exactly, is the problem with L-1 visas?

The L-1 visa has tended to attract less controversy in the popular press than its very contentious cousin, the H-1B visa. However, criticism has nevertheless been levelled that the L-1 visa allows foreign or multinational corporations to circumvent proper protections for US workers. For one thing, unlike with the H-1B visa, there is no requirement that the L-1 visa holder be paid a salary commensurate with that of US workers. For another, there is no limit on the number of L-1 visas that are granted annually. This has led to criticism that multinationals, especially consulting agencies, will hire a foreigner abroad for one year, and then transfer them to the US to work for US clients at a low salary as compared to US workers.

So is this how Ellen Tauscher and the New Democrat Coalition envision legislating to "help American workers and our economy"?  Is this the behavior of "a loyal Democrat… a real Dem"?

I'm going to stop right here and make a small confession.  I was motivated to write about Tauscher and her record of support for free trade agreements after reading Katie Merrill's California Majority Report post yesterday. You know, the part where she said this:

[F]or the netroots, it's not about an elected official's entire record, it's not about how they serve their district, it's whether the elected official agrees with the netroots on their issue du jour (or, more to the point, issue of the cycle).

You see, I live in CA-10, and I am both a Democratic grassroots activist and a member of the netroots.  Ellen Tauscher gets paid $168,000 a year to go to Washington DC and represent me.  And yet, over the years, Tauscher has been very clear about whose interests she represents in DC, going so far as to make the following statement when she received the US Chamber of Commerce "Spirit of Enterprise" Award for her pro-business agenda: "I am pleased that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce finally set the record straight by putting policy above politics and acknowledging my voting record on behalf of business."  On the other hand, she has never felt particularly constrained by loyalty to her Democratic base:

Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, said in an interview that party loyalty isn't the issue. "I don't remember being elected to go to Washington to be a Democrat," she said.

So instead of listening to her constituents and the activists who got her elected in the first place, Tauscher sends her lackey to accuse us of fracturing the Democratic party because we have the temerity to question her commitment to Democratic ideals.  Well, Katie Merrill can babble until she gets tired.  At the end of the day, Ellen Tauscher quite simply does not share the Democratic values held by me or any other Democrat in CA-10 of my acquaintance.

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Tauscher's Brain Fade (8.00 / 2)
"I don't remember being elected to go to Washington to be a Democrat," she said.

Obviously, her memory needs to be Jarred, because that is why she was elected.

(-8.50/-7.44) Progressive Blue, An Oasis

Of course (8.00 / 2)
She was elected to represent the good folks of K street.

I think?

[ Parent ]
Rough 2008 (8.00 / 2)
At the biggest political blog in the world:

Meanwhile, keep an eye on Ellen Tauscher. She's going to have a rough 2008.

One interesting dynamic is that Markos lives just outside of CA-10. He doesn't usually cover local stuff because he covers federal and state elections. But this is both.

Twitter: @BobBrigham

If we could do it to Pombo (8.00 / 2)
We can do it to Tauscher.

I know many, MANY people who live in that district (I divide my time between Seattle and Monterey [Go Sam Farr!] but will be living in Monterey full time come June) and they despise Tauscher.

There is a huge undercurrent of anger in this country at the kind of policies Tauscher has supported. It should not be difficult to give her the Ned Lamont treatment. It won't be easy either, since she'll have a ton of money. But since there will be virtually nothing else for Dems to focus on in June 2008, we can pour all our resources into primarying Tauscher.

Her days are, at long last, finally numbered.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

Tauscher, & Trade (0.00 / 0)
A few things,

First off, the Vietnam agreement was not a "Free Trade" Agreement. It's a measure to establish normal trade relations with Vietnam, in which Vietnam's imports will be subject to the same duties & tariffs as imports from other U.S. trading partners.

The Bill (which 92 Democrats voted for & 96 against), far from being passed by "Tauscher and her NDC cohorts" was endorsed by both Speaker Pelosi & Ways & Means Charles Rangel, and voted in favor of by such people as

Howard Berman(CA), Earl Blumenauer(OR), Michael Capuano(MA), Ben Cardin(MD), William Clay(MO), Majority Whip Jim Clyburn(SC), Diana DeGette(CO), John Dingell(MI), Sam Farr(CA), Barney Frank(MA), Rush Holt (NJ), Mike Honda(CA), Eddie Bernice Johnson(TX), John Larson(CT), Sander Levin(MI), Doris Matsui(CA), Jim McDermott(WA), James McGovern(MA), Brad Miller(NC), George Miller(CA), John Oliver(MA), Tom Udall(CO), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz(FL) Diana Watson(CA), Mel Watt(NC), Henry Waxman(CA) & Robert Wexler(FL).

Are all these people Corporate Tauscherites too? Is Nancy Pelosi an enemy of the middle class? Is Rush Holt the slave of his K-Street masters? Is Henry Waxman the bought & paid for automatron of his corporate lobbyist owners? Is Barney Frank a GOP-lite corporate whore?

Or maybe, this issue isn't as manichean as some would pretend.

Second of all, support for liberalized trade is not a black & white issue, whether it be with large countries or small ones. Not all trade agreements are created equal. The free trade agreement with the tiny middle eastern nation of Oman was considered a bad deal by most Democrats and all but 20 Democrats voted against it. But the Free Trade agreement with the tiny nation of Bahrain had much broader support and the majority of Democrats voted for it.

Third I'm really amazed that even L-1 visas would be criticized. One of the most potent arguments about the current trade regime is the relative mobility of capital & labor & the insulation of American Professionals as compared to blue collar workers (see Dean Baker). The L-1 & H1B visa programs allow aspiring professionals in developing countries a chance at a successful American life & career &  a path to becoming U.S. citizens which only benefits our economy (again see Dean Baker). 

Well, you're right about one thing (0.00 / 0)
Dean Baker does indeed argue that free trade agreements ill serve blue-collar American workers

A main point of the trade deals of the last quarter century has been to put downward pressure on the wages of less-skilled workers by putting them in direct competition with low-wage workers in the developing world. Again, the loss of manufacturing jobs and pay cuts for large segments of the workforce was not an accidental outcome of these deals, or a case where the reality of international trade did not conform to theory, it was the purpose of these deals.

If you put U.S. manufacturing workers in direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world, you screw manufacturing workers in the United States and benefit highly educated professionals.

And contrary to your implication, the insidious thing about L-1 visas is that they require no highly-specialized education or particular skills.  An applicant need merely demonstrate "knowledge of the company's products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures."  All one need do is go online and fill out the handy application form.  Unskilled workers are being brought into the US at an alarmingly rapid rate to compete with American workers for jobs on American soil.  Once again, David Sirota has an elegant explanation for the problems wrought by L-1 visas.

[ Parent ]
L-1 Visas (0.00 / 0)
First off, you misrepresent Dean Baker, who has time and time again griped against Free Trade agreements due to an ironic plethora of the very protectionism you are advocating for. The lowering of barriers to trade increases competition between workers in import competing industries across nations but insulates American professionals from competition which forments greater inequality. This is due to draconian licensing processes & protectionist lobbying on behalf of professional guilds that L-1 visas largely circumvent. 

I'm really curious about your stance here. Do you feel that "foriegners" don't deserve a chance at the American dream? Are native born white Americans more entitled than foreign born brown people to occupy certain jobs. Are "high skilled" immigrants, superior and thus more deserving of a chance at American success than "low skilled" immigrants? 

You seem to both oppose foreigners working "American Jobs" and the prospect of foreigners coming here to work jobs on "American soil", there's a name for this phenomenon. It's called "Nativism" and it's not especially progressive.

[ Parent ]
Tauscher trolls (8.00 / 1)
Your posts here should be instructive to those at this site who have not seen Ellen Tauscher and her posse in action.  I can’t help but notice that you registered as a user at this site approximately 10 hours after this diary was first posted.  Then you ride in, citing Dean Baker as an ultimate trade guru — and, of course, when confronted with an unhandy quote from him, you allege misrepresentation.  You purposely conflate L-1 visas with H-1B visas and conveniently ignore cited material while not bothering to offer any citations of your own.  Finally, you attempt to set up a strawman by alleging that any sort of concern for the well-being of American workers is xenophobic at best, racist at worst.

To those readers who are not accustomed to Tauscher’s operation, I can only offer this:  I became quite familiar with this pattern at SayNoToPombo during the 2006 primary season when Ellen Tauscher unwisely interjected herself and her apprentice, Steve Filson, into the CA-11 race.  Whenever we wrote anything unflattering about Tauscher on that blog, we would immediately draw this kind of fire from her staff.  So if you are eager to take Ms. Tauscher on in a 2008 primary, you’ll need to prepare for this kind of silliness.

[ Parent ]
Oh, and while you're at it (0.00 / 0)
Could you clarify something for me?  You say, “Or maybe, this issue isn't as manichean as some would pretend.”  I have to confess that I was unfamiliar with the term “Manichean.”  I looked it up and came away with this definition:

A believer in a syncretistic religious dualism originating in Persia in the third century A.D. and teaching the release of the spirit from matter through asceticism.

Would you care to elaborate?

[ Parent ]
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