Obama Capitulates to GOP and Withdraws Labor Protection from Colombia Trade Deal

Rep. Sander Levin

Rep. Sander Levin by jimrenaud

The website for the US Trade Representative still has a link to the inadequate–but nevertheless improved–labor protections that the US had demanded from Colombia to support a trade deal with the country.

But according to Sander Levin–who just announced his opposition to the deal–Obama has agreed to a Republican demand to drop such protections from the deal.

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, told reporters today he will oppose the free trade deal with Colombia, saying he can’t support the deal unless a plan to protect worker rights is included.

Levin criticized Republican opposition to including a reference to a labor rights action plan in implementing legislation — and the Obama administration’s acquiescence.

“Refusal to refer to the action plan on workers rights in the implementing bill is a fatal flaw,” Levin said.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised by Republican’s sheer cynicism anymore. But with this move they have effectively demanded–and Obama has agreed–that our workers should have to compete against workers in a country who may well be murdered if they stand up to management. The GOP has now insisted that the race to the bottom include murder.

What does that say they want for their own constituents?

53 replies
  1. harpie says:

    Their dearest desire is to get as close as inhumanly possible to repealing Amendment XIII of The Constitution.

    That one was a big mistake!


  2. phred says:

    It is hard to believe that a man with the cojones to become President is so easily cowed into being the worst negotiator on Earth.

    I’m guessing his heart wasn’t in labor protections to begin with. Besides, Billion Dollar O can’t get enough scratch from Labor alone, so he’s got to keep makin’ love to his sugar daddies. Oh, and pencil in dinner with a few rubes, just for show.

    I hope the Nobel Committee issues an official statement of remorse for ever honoring such an evil man.

    • MrChip says:

      It is hard to believe that a man with the cojones to become President is so easily cowed into being the worst negotiator on Earth.

      Hard to believe only if you think he’s negotiating on our behalf. Some Occam guys razor suggests maybe Obama isn’t who you think he is…?

  3. radiofreewill says:

    That’s a fine line you’re cutting there – balancing basic human rights concerns with the moral imperative of profit!

    Sheesh, everyone knows that if we give the workers rights, then it won’t be as profitable to do business there anymore.

    So, what’s the deal here? Are you trying to bring on a world banana crisis – a dollar a banana – just for the sake of those ‘other’ people?

    • Bruce H. Vail says:

      I think you have put your finger on it.

      In an era of billion dollar presidential campaigns, labor support is unimportant, because it doesn’t have the cash resources to be a player at that level.

      The importance of union cash in presidential elections has been vastly exaggerated by the right-wingers for years.

      Obama is truly a modern Democrat in the sense that he instinctively realizes that unions just don’t make a difference anymore in presidential campaigns.

      • janeeyresick says:

        We need a new Labor Party and a pro-labor candidate.

        We should make this THE issue of the next election – jobs, decent wages and single payer healthcare (inextricably tied together.)

        John Edwards was on the money with his framing of 2 Americas. Just because he turned out to be a schmuck, does not mean that we give up the fight or the image.

        “Obama capitulates”. I’m not sure even that is true since it implies that he actually held the stance he is conceding. I just read the term “inauthentic” to describe him and I thought what a perfect descriptive that was. How would one ever know what he really thinks or cares about or stands for since his entire term has been nothing BUT capitulation of what used to be core Democratic values?

        I’m through with both him and the Party.

        Please, please please let a Labor leader and party rise from the rubble of the Democrats.

        • ottogrendel says:

          “How would one ever know what he really thinks or cares about or stands for . . .”

          Ignore the words. Pay attention to the actions. They will always let you know what the score is.

      • drb48 says:

        Because we count dollars now, not votes? Of course with the percent of the labor force in unions droping from 25% to 7% in the last 50 years – and the last vestige of unionized workers, the public employee unions, under relentless attack by the right – they can’t deliver the votes either. So the only competition left is to see who can sell out faster to the plutocrats – the Dems or the Rethugs. And that’s really no contest since the GOP has been in the plutocrats’ pockets since the beginning of time. Rendering the current version of the Democratic party both useless and redundant – i.e. who needs two parties to represent the corporations and the rich?

        • strangely enough says:

          who needs two parties to represent the corporations and the rich?

          Kinda answers itself. Corporate capitalism seems to be based on eliminating (the) competition, more and more so through acquiring them. When you own both parties of a two party system and have put up sufficient barriers to any outsiders… Profit!

        • Bruce H. Vail says:

          Well said.

          Some of the younger firepups out there might not realize that labor has been unable to deliver a winning margin of votes in a presidential election to the Democratic Party for a long time — at least 30 years. Labor’s votes will not make a difference whether Obama wins or loses in 2012, and he knows it.

  4. BoxTurtle says:

    Dear Goddess, won’t somebody PLEASE primary that teabagger in democrats clothing?

    I see no way to stop this. The GOPers will likely support it, since it was largely negociated by BushCo and ObamaLLP will get his blue dogs to sign on.

    Boxturtle ([email protected]: Remorse?!? They should issue a formal apology, demand the awards return, and resign)

    • phred says:

      I heartily concur with your parenthetical comment ; ) Not to mention the rest as well ; ) Where are Those Meddling Kids when we need them? Clearly, the adults aren’t up to the job.

    • klynn says:

      The key: the words “significant” and “limited”.

      Pay attention to the focus on intelligence concerns in answers.

      I encourage reading some of the links here and here.

      Go read the hearing Russ Feingold held. Go read what all the Repugs stated. Now listen to all the repugs today. I am not trying to defend Koh, I am stating that Congress helped to create this issue too historically.

      Koh used the word “intent”. Another key word in this debate.

      Go read the Congressional report FAS has on its’ site addressing a list of 9 proposed amendments that would aid ending the controversies surrounding the War Powers Resolution.

      • klynn says:

        Note to Corker,

        The “drone” policy was established by Republicans under Bush.

        Nice trying to deflect your own policy and argument on to Koh, O and dems.

        All are culpable. Repugs and Dems. Congress has created a thirty year history of failure on WP’s.

  5. Jim says:

    Obama is truly evil.

    He’s worse than any Repub Pres we’ve ever had or ever will have.

    Quite a dangerous liar and fraud.

  6. Miro says:

    What does that say they want for their own constituents?

    Every time an acquaintance says, “What are those Republicans thinking!???” my response is automatic. “It’s all about cheap labor; it’s always been about cheap labor.”

  7. extremistgreenie says:

    Just what do we get from a FT deal with Columbia anyway? What do they make other than cocaine? Or is it just another place willing to compete with China for cheapest labor?

    • SouthernDragon says:

      Nickel and copper.

      As you can see from the article they import military hardware from us. Letting mining companies off the hook for worker’s rights while at the same time using the military, both Columbian and American, to clear areas under FARC control or influence opens up land for mining interests and destroys that land for agricultural purposes, forcing the country to import grain and other foodstuffs.

  8. ottogrendel says:

    Capitulates? “Obama has agreed to a Republican demand to . . .” How often has this good cop-bad cop charade been played over the last couple of years? Does anyone have a complete list of all the issues to which this sentance has been applied?

    Any labor protection was always a veneer, a bogus pretention. “The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.”

    — Voltaire

  9. 4cdave says:

    President Lawn-chair bravely folds again!

    What does that say they want for their own constituents?

    It says that their constituents are the Aristocrats.

  10. newbaygal says:

    Your choice to describe Obama as “capitulating” helps drive his meme that the Republicans have MADE him do all these awful things that he REALLY didn’t want to do. Which we learned early on is bull…

  11. stoicjim says:

    Please tell me again why voting for Obama is better than having a Republican in the White House? Because I’m not.

  12. mafr says:

    “Trade unionists in Colombia saw no improvement in their situation in 2010. The number of trade union leaders assassinated remained high (49) while many trade union activists faced death threats and assassination attempts. The legal system continues to be ineffective in solving these murders and bringing those responsible to justice. While the new government claims to take workers’ rights seriously, anti-union attitudes among employers remain strong. Numerous violations of collective agreements were reported.”


    great place to do business I guess. If someone attempts to improve their working conditions…… just have them killed. problem solved.

    • holeybuybull says:

      You really didn’t expect the man who chose Holder, the defender of United Fruit’s paramilitary campaign to eradicate unions in Colombia, as Attorney General to be in favor of labor protections, did you?

  13. jedimsnbcko19 says:

    Enough already!

    Obama is a GOP leader

    When the GOP agenda gets in trouble, who always shows up to save it? OBAMA

    Eric Cantor said it best, it is time for OBAMA to get involve with the Debt Talks, and what will happen? the GOP will get everything they want.

    A below avg Dem President would not do such things.

    News Flash to everyone! OBAMA does not even want to win in 2012, his purpose is secure GOP or top 1% rule of the White House.

  14. nonpartisanliberal says:

    I’m sure they had to twist his arm. (eye roll)

    Someone on another thread referred to Barack Bush as the Great Capitulator, but I think a better name would be the Great Imposter. Barack Bush is the Republican Manchurian.

  15. nonpartisanliberal says:

    Obama ALWAYS takes the path of least resistance. This is a characteristic I noticed when he was running for president and it was why I was sure before his swearing in that he would never be an agent of change.

    The only way he will ever support “Democratic priorities” (if they differ from Republican ones) will be if congressional Democrats realize that they are the opposing party to the White House.

  16. tammanytiger says:

    Obama: “Pre-Emptive Concessions You Can Believe In.”

    The biggest believers are Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, who know from experience that this guy can be counted on to surrender without a shot fired.

  17. onitgoes says:

    Obama is doing *exactly* what he’s been well-PAID to do.

    No offense, but I’m bloody well sick & tired of reading words to the effect that Obama “capitulated” or “gave in” to the big-bad-nasty-meanie GOPers. Please! Spare me the totally bogus “right v. left” paradigm. That’s over! Home & hosed. We are DONE with Repub v. Dem.

    This is about Class Warfare. It’s the upper 1% v. the rest of us peons. Obama works for the upper 1%.

    Even *feigning* “surprise” at Obama doing what’s BEST for the upper 1% is, uh, disingenuous at best. We here at FDL are smarter than that and on top of it… this is not about Lawn-Chair Barry “folding” yet again.

    It’s about Obama doing what he’s been well-PAID to do: do what’s best for the upper 1%. It’s a feature, not a bug. Speaking only for myself, I would *prefer* if the rhetoric here reflected that, rather then pretend that this is, somehow, amazing that Obama operates this way. Name one instance where Obama operated differently???? I can’t think of any.

    • SouthernDragon says:

      Have to agree with you. Obama and the rest of DeeCee are neoliberals, regardless of what party they belong to. It is indeed class warfare. The One Percenters want to regain the class power they enjoyed in the late 1800s, the Gilded Age, and the 1920s.

  18. klynn says:

    After taking $10B taxpayer bailout, Goldman Sachs announces it will outsource 1K jobs to Singapore

    From your (EW) Twitter account…

    How about we pass a law that calculates the cost of jobs lost due to outsourcing which requires the company to pay that $$ amount to create jobs in the US.

  19. tammanytiger says:

    Obama and the party mandarins don’t regard their supporters as “constituents.” Their proper role is to write checks, do the GOTV grunt work, and follow orders.

    • Jim says:

      Is there anyone or anything Obama won’t betray? He’s really a disturbing character, he sounds sane and rational when he speaks but is either inherently morally bankrupt or an absurd coward (or both).

  20. textynn says:

    Obama always gives in to Republican Demands. The only difference between Repubs and Dems is Dems enact Republican right wing legislation after pretending to be against if for a while and then giving in. Two parties – One master. How long will stupid people continue to be mesmerized by this ridiculously poor carnie show.

  21. wagthedog says:

    I’m not at all surprised seeing how O couldn’t find his pair of soft shoes for teachers and first responders in Wisconsin.

    As Hillary said about O during the campaign, shame on you Barack Obama.

  22. thefunghoul says:

    We are the weakest political party ever in the history of the U.S. We will cave on anything! We are afraid of the republicans for some reason!

  23. bluewombat says:

    Thank God we have a Democratic President who stands foursquare for worker rights! That’s why it’s important for all of us to vote to re-elect Obama, the people’s champion!


  24. nonpartisanliberal says:

    One thing is for sure: after Obama finishes his “negotiations” with the Republican caucus, he’s going to need a donut pillow and a cigarette.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    You were saying about Mr. Obama’s abject willingness to give Republicans anything they ask for ever?

  26. madprogressive says:

    “I know I shouldn’t be surprised by Republican’s sheer cynicism anymore.” “What does that say they want for their own constituents?”

    Any progressive worth his salt should no longer be asking these questions or making these kinds of statements. I mean really, are you where most Democrats are, and still give these bastards the benefit of the doubt, and actually believe these people give a damn about anything but their corporate masters, and money, REALLY!!! The people who support the GOP are just plain stupid. Anyone who listens to these people and hear what they say, and still think they care anything about working people are just plain stupid. Even if you find one that lies through his teeth, you need only look at their record.

    The bigger question to me is this; Is there anything Obama is willing to fight for? Does this President have any principles, and if he does, is he willing to stand and fight for any of them? Until progressives answer that question in the affirmative, and have some tangible proof from Obama to support that answer, then why the hell are we not willing to primary this guy? Yes, I said Primary him. If we are going to contine to support a President who allows the GOP to still govern this country, even though we voted against their policies in 2008, then we just damn well need to sit down and shut the hell up.

    It’s clear to me we are providing cover for this president when we make excuses for him. If this president is unable or unwilling to stand and fight for our principles, and worst, allows the GOP to control the political conversation, with a Democrat in the White House, then why are we supporting this guy. Do we not deserve a political voice in this nation, or are we going to allow the sliver of conservative Democrats along with the GOP run this country, and yes, Obama is a conservative Democrat.

    Until progressives come to the conclusion the political ground is continuing to shift to the right, and we are allowing it to happen by supporting and protecting this conservative Democrat, then we progressives need to just shut the hell up, because we have become our own worst enemy. We can blame the GOP all we want, and they deserve some blame. But Obama is the president, he has the bullypulpit, but he refuses to use it to affect progressive change. We need to understand this president is just not into progressives, and we’d better damn well understand that before it’s really too late.

  27. BobTinKY says:

    Dem President supports a labor and/or environmentally unfriendly free trade pact, Dem Congressmen/women howl in protest. Deal passes.


    Stop watching lest you think the Democratic Party has anything to offer working men & women. They sold out decades ago.

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