The positions taken by the Clinton appointees to the Democratic Party Platform Committee demonstrate that the DNC leadership is “frequently stridently hostile to a progressive agenda or to adopting policies favored by the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” said Bill Black, associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City.
Black, who also serves as an economic adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders, pointed out that Clinton’s delegates did not take a stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership despite her public opposition to the trade deal.
“And of course, this further exacerbates the concerns about whether Clinton really opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership or whether she will announce a change of heart, should she be elected president and support it,” said Black.
Black himself is critical of the TPP.
“It has next to nothing to do with trade, and everything to do with gutting environmental restrictions and restrictions that protect the health of workers and of consumers,” he said.
SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: I’m Sharmini Peries on the Real News, and this is the Bill Black Report. Thank you for joining us. In St. Louis, Missouri on Friday, the Democratic National Committee’s platform drafting committee voted against a number of positions proposed by the Bernie Sanders surrogates. The issues that concern the Sanders campaign, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, fracking, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, proposal to adopt a carbon tax, single-payer healthcare, and a $15 minimum wage tied to inflation were all simply disregarded. On to talk about this more is Bill Black. Bill is an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City. He’s a white collar criminologist, and a former financial regulator, and the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One. Bill, thank you for joining us. BILL BLACK: Thank you. And in terms of this one, we need the disclosure that I’m also an economic adviser to Bernie Sanders. PERIES: The better for us in terms of this report. So, Bill, what were the issues that were critically ignored by the DNC platform committee of concern to the Sanders platform? BLACK: You mentioned in the intro the primary list, but let’s start with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And the timing of this one is quite interesting, because the folks who, in Canada, who wanted to do the big pipeline to bring oil shale and such to the United States, have announced that they’re going to sue the United States of America, which is to say [usns], for at least $15 billion in one of these [arbitrary] kangaroo proceedings that is allowed under a predecessor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal called, of course, NAFTA. So it brings to mind exactly why it is essential not to have the Trans-Pacific Partnership ratified: that it has next to nothing to do with trade, and everything to do with gutting environmental restrictions and restrictions that protect the health of workers and of consumers. For example, there are at least three of these massive lawsuits against countries under similar trade deal provisions because they dared to try to reduce smoking. Right, so the Trans-Pacific Partnership is an outrage, and–. PERIES: And who, who is doing the suit? BLACK: So, this is the big Canadian pipeline that would have brought the increased hydrocarbons to the United States and exacerbated the global climate change. It also would have been uneconomic, as it turned out. Of course, part of that depends on fracking. So this is an example where Hillary Clinton herself changed her position and came out in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Okay, so we’ve got the two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for president who between them got something like 98 percent or 99 percent of all the Democratic voters. And somehow the people appointed by the Hillary Clinton campaign, despite Hillary Clinton’s opposition, public opposition, now, to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, aren’t willing to actually have the Democrats oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And of course, this further exacerbates the concerns about whether Clinton really opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership or whether she will announce a change of heart, should she be elected president and support it. So that’s the classic example, as I say, where the candidate purports to support it, but actions speak a whole lot louder than words in those things. The dispute on the minimum wage actually is more modest. There is, finally, it appears, some support for the $15 minimum wage from broader elements of the Democratic Party, but they’re not willing to index it for inflation. Well, if you don’t index it for inflation then you have to fight the battle every five years to try to increase the minimum wage. So it’s not clear why they would take that position if they actually favor the $15 minimum wage, which is required in large part because the prior minimum wages were not indexed for inflation and became ridiculously low. Why would you support indexing it for inflation? I can’t figure out a logical reason for their position on that. There’s a dispute internationally. The Sanders forces in general, not all Sanders forces, were looking for a resolution that reflected traditional Democratic policy that the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories were illegal, which they are under international law. That provision was refused, as well. That’s a sampler of some of the things. The broader point, of course, that people, progressives, were looking to see, is the Clinton camp sincere in wanting to finally embrace a progressive agenda and to–. PERIES: And to do what they said, which is to unify the party in some way, through the platform. BLACK: And to unify the party. And this is the obvious way to do it. Not to accept 100 percent, necessarily, of course, of what Senator Sanders was seeking, but to take some very substantial portion. Particularly the portions that Hillary Clinton says she agrees with. And they won’t even take those provisions. So it’s a very rocky start. It was, in tennis terms, unforced error. The Clinton camp, if they were really sincere in trying to bring the party together, it’s a dumb move politically because it would have helped her considerably. If she had favored these kinds of policies she would have lost very few voters and picked up very substantial support if she enthusiastically embraced what a majority of people in the Democratic Party favored. PERIES: What is the political calculation here on the part of the committee? I mean, appeasing the ruling party members is obviously what this is going to achieve, but that is so counterproductive to what they’re trying to do right now, which is to win an election. BLACK: Well, so this goes back to Clinton installing Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC chair. She is on–again, it varies by issue. But on a number of issues she is to the right of moderate Republicans. So she’s, on things like payday lenders and such, she’s more like a deeply conservative Republican in her policies. In policies involving the Palestinians she’s much closer to the Republican planks as well. So to the extent she and Clinton install delegates, they are frequently stridently hostile to a progressive agenda or to adopting policies favored by the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. PERIES: Now, Bill, what do you think is going to come of this platform, and how is it going to be felt throughout the base of the party leading up to the convention? BLACK: Well, again there’s some hope, because the politics of all of this, it’s become clear that the DNC has not just succeeded in its mission of hurting Sen. Sanders, but actually has harmed the Democratic Party, and even harmed the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. So there’s a political [appeal] to be done of a classic sense of compromise in which she should be taking a whole series of policies, like I talked about, and enthusiastically supporting the progressive points that she claims to support. That would, again, that would be good for her, not simply good for Sen. Sanders or Sen. Sanders’ supporters, and it would accord with the views of the dominant group in terms of numbers of Democrats. So there’s still hope that they will get this together. The DNC is reeling from the criticism. It’s widely viewed that there needs to be a change in the leadership, and in fact, that may be occurring behind the scenes. So we’ll see. There’s a possibility of, that Clinton will make the right call, still. But the early signs are negative. And it’s silly. I mean, you want the early signs to be very positive, after all, from a Hillary Clinton. So political consensus. And that suggests that the new Democratic elements, the corporate interests, still are very, very strong. PERIES: Parasitical. It’s parasitical. BLACK: Well, they’re not even parasitical. They’re powerful. It’s one thing to be parasitical. But it’s, you know, they have been widely discredited. Their policies have been disasters when they’ve been implemented. And so it’s–and as I said, I mean, when you have the Canadians suing us for $15 billion immediately after they announce that they’re unwilling to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, bad timing. PERIES: All right, Bill. I thank you so much for joining us. BLACK: Thank you. PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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