Obama’s Efforts to Create Korean–Not American–Jobs Gets More Cynical

As I noted this morning, Obama plans to “pivot to jobs” by creating them in Korea. (This video came from his statement today after the deficit ceiling bill got through.)

But his call on Congress to pass trade deals with Korea, Panama, and Colombia just got even more cynical.

First, because he says these deals will “help displaced workers looking for new jobs.” That word–displaced–is often used to refer to those who have lost their manufacturing jobs because they got sent to, say, Mexico in an earlier trade deal. “Displaced” usually refers to just the kind of people devastated by these trade deals. It seems Obama is pretending that new trade deals will create jobs for the people who lost their jobs because of earlier trade deals. But of course, last we heard, the folks who just successfully held our economy hostage were refusing to pass these trade deals with Trade Adjustment Assistance attached. In other words, chances are good that if these trade deals pass, they’ll pass with nothing to help those who are displaced because of it.

And note Obama’s promise to export “products stamped, ‘Made in America’.” Aside from the fact that a lot of what we’ll be exporting will be American-style fraudulent finance, not manufactured goods, his use of the term is all the more cynical given the likely reason he used it: because of the polling showing near unanimity that the US should make things again–like the 94% of Americans polled who think creating manufacturing jobs here in America is important.That is, he’s trying to co-opt the almost complete opposition to this policy–which almost certainly wouldn’t create any new manufacturing jobs here in the US–as a way to try to claim that trade deals that will result in a net loss of jobs will instead create them.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

32 replies
  1. prostratedragon says:

    Brace yourself. They (and I definitely include he, the First Person) really do think we are children.

  2. prostratedragon says:

    @prostratedragon: Actually, not quite. “They” think that by acting in a way that transparently invites what sound like either adolescent objections (“But you said—”) or the sputterings of a con man’s belatedly insightful marks “they” can maintain the superior, i.e. the bully’s, position.

    Keep calling “them” out early like this, is the best immediate tactic I can think of. Make sure people have a chance going in to see how dishonest the words are.

  3. phred says:

    Cynicism is clearly working for him. Why just yesterday he saved Social Security and Medicare.

    Orwell would be proud of President TeaCup.

  4. marksb says:

    Repeated lies.
    Cable “news” and the short attention span and over-simplification of almost ALL news sources.
    Lack of a coherent and coordinated opposition.
    Did I miss anything?

    And to think how thrilled I was just three years ago.

  5. rg says:

    More and more I recall the words of Rep. Joe Wllson: ” You lie”. Too bad he got such a drubbing for his “uncouthness”.

  6. Gitcheegumee says:


    Did you miss anything?

    “In times of universal deceit,telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

    George Orwell

  7. Gitcheegumee says:


    How about the right Reverend Wright’s sermon about “chickens coming home to roost”-and the drubbing he got?

    That’s the one that comes to my mind on many an occasion,and with far more frequency of late.

  8. John B. says:

    I am still surprised rails, feathers and buckets of tar prices have not gone through the roof…

  9. rg says:

    Gitchee @7

    Boy that’s right. And remember the spin as to how O was merely a spectator there, and not really a devotee of the right reverend. Who would believe that?

  10. Kathleen says:

    I road up to SB 5 protest in Ohio with a bus load of GM, former GM, Delphi, union plumbers and teachers from the Dayton Ohio region. One GM worker who had been laid off had applied for a job at Wal Mart where his 18 year old daughter was working. I guess this is what Obama and team would call leveling the playing field in the race to the bottom

  11. Kathleen says:

    Oh yeah as I walked around the protest this winter at the Ohio State house and moved through the union crowd of Firefighters, police officers, teachers and just listened and observed. Of course the whole time I am thinking how many of you folks voted for Kasich? Not until I started helping collect signatures with union members for the referendum to get SB 5 on the November ballot here in Ohio did I start politely asking mostly big union guys if they voted for Kasich. Most quickly admitted that they had and had made a serious mistake. As one of my dear die hard Dem friends in Colorado said this summer as I told him this story “it is easy to admit you made a mistake after the Republicans shove a broomstick up your ass” A bit graphic but reality

  12. Cregan says:

    One thing I agree with Obama on is, “the economy of the future” idea. The old days are NOT going to come back. No matter the policy.

    Seeing some manufacturing businesses do well recently, the common factor is becoming highly automated.

    You may be able to stop foreign manufacturers from selling the US, but you can’t prevent them from selling to others. The differential increases and the strain increases. Eventually, you can’t hold back the tide.

    there can be plenty of jobs here, but different ones. Making highly technical products and other sectors. They don’t have to be McDonald’s jobs, as some joke.

    Last time I looked, Google had some pretty good jobs that didn’t involve manufacturing.

    A business that does not change as conditions change goes out of business. A country that does not change as conditions change, ends up like Rome, England, Egypt and others.

  13. Gitcheegumee says:

    John B:
    Is Goldman stockpiling those items in warehouses,too,along with the zinc and the aluminum??

  14. Petrocelli says:


    For decades, we heard this same malarkey from the Big 3, that we could not make profitable small cars in U.S./Canada.

    Today, GM & Ford have several profitable small cars, which are fun to drive and great on Gas.

    PBO needs to learn about American Ingenuity.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Unsurprisingly, Mr. Obama’s economic priorities – the budgets and programs he is most willing to cut – will deprive the next generation of the benefits that enabled him to lurch from being a mixed raced kid in white American, with a lower middle class, single, working mom background, to private schools, the Ivy League, politics and the presidency.

    Change we can believe in does not include torching the ladder of upward mobility after Mr. Obama climbed to the top, but it’s the change he’s delivering with a smile on his face.

  16. Petrocelli says:

    Marcy, bmaz … the new place is rather comfortable and even the HatPin is in its usual place …

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What is clear from Mr. Obama’s legislative priorities is that they do not generate jobs here. His promises are no different than those slogans corporate HR staff used to stay up all night imagining – “People are our most important asset.” “Downsizing means improving productivity, not jobs elimination.” “We are not cutting your benefits and profit sharing, we’re matching them to your performance.” Ad nauseum.

    Whatever the talk and mimicking of corporate rhetoric, Mr. Obama is a disaster capitalist, despite never having had a meaningful job outside of politics. Whatever his promises – he’s proven his are worth less than the average politician’s – meaningful, career, mortgage-paying jobs will go offshore or be cut entirely.

    Disaster capitalism is built on maximizing current consumption. Like Mao’s Great Leap Forward, it is built on eating the seed corn, melting the tools, burning the bridges and libraries. It is about maximizing the pain, an elegant form of distraction, and minimizing the number of those who benefit from it. It is the antithesis of building for the future, which is what middle class optimism, careers, families, lives and communities depend on.

  18. Petrocelli says:

    @Jim White:

    Jim !

    Things are great or I make them great ! *g*

    Summer and BBQ season are in full swing and I won’t say how much I’m enjoying Korean BBQ recipes … *g*

  19. P J Evans says:

    It reminds me of friends who were looking for new jobs, and were told to get training for high-tech jobs. Said friends pointed out that their jobs, the ones that had gone bye-bye, were high-tech, and got no useful response. Especially after one of them (not-quite-ex-programmer) pointed out that a lot of those high-tech jobs had gone to places like India.(They’re still looking for jobs that pay enough to live on.)

  20. Cregan says:


    Well, after declaring BK and getting a big bailout.

    Not saying some manufacturing can’t be done here, just the tide is moving in a different direction. And, you can ride the tide, or be swept away by it.

  21. Cregan says:

    Here is another thing, when the Great Depression happened, it didn’t just take a steady downward ride.

    When you look at contemporary news papers and letters to the editors, people at various times from 29 to 32 thought we were heading out of it. Only in hindsight does it look like an inevitable downturn.

    Today, you may be looking at something rather the same.

  22. joe says:

    Wouldn’t it be a simple matter to determine which donors of his are lobbying for this and then boycott them? If we can mobilize against Glenn Beck’s advertisers, what’s stopping us from doing the same to these pricks who are waging war against American workers?

  23. shekissesfrogs says:

    Your rhetoric is so 90’s.

    This isn’t a one time wave, it’s a cycle.

    Just as the fabian liberals of yesterday bought into social darwinism, the same thing is coming around again.

    Policy determines the kind of economy we have, which justifies the programs.

    It’s just that Obama is wedded to neoliberal economics, therefore they aren’t politically possible.
    The New Dems hijacked the party and now we are living under a coup by GS.


  24. hambone says:

    @Kathleen: @Kathleen: This, my friend, may best be summed up as “I’ve got mine.” Indeed there were a lot of firefighters, teachers, and policemen/women who just left the Republican party. In a way, they still don’t get it: they think they deserve our support because they’re “laying their life on the line”, or because they teach our future. No. Sorry, I do not buy your exalted reasons for your vocational choices (and lets face it, firefighter is really not even in the top 10 of dangerous positions). I support your right to collectively bargain because I support the right of all workers to collectively bargain and realize a loss for you is not a win for me.

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