Bill Moyers: The Corporate Plot That Obama and Corporate Lobbyists Don't Want You to Know About
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BILL MOYERS: During the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama was skeptical about NAFTA. Here's what he said then.
KEITH OLBERMAN: Scrap NAFTA, Senator Obama, or fix it?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada to try to amend NAFTA, because I think that we can get labor agreements in that agreement right now. And it should reflect the basic principle that our trade agreements should not just be good for Wall Street, it should also be good for Main Street. And the problem that we've had is that we've had corporate lobbyists oftentimes involved in negotiating these trade agreements. But the AFL-CIO hasn't been involved. Ordinary working people have not been involved. And we've got to make sure that our agreements are good for everybody. Because globalization right now is creating winners and losers. But the problem is, it's the same winners and the same losers each and every time.
BILL MOYERS: What do you suppose is the influence on President Obama that caused him to reverse course on NAFTA and not fulfill what was a campaign pledge?
DEAN BAKER: Well, I think it's the nature of politics in the United States. I mean, it's not a secret. You know, you have very powerful politically, economically-- people who, you know, are pushing for this. And you know, we saw this with Wall Street, you know, when President Obama first came into office. You know, at that point, you know, Wall Street is on its back, meaning the financial industry.
And basically President Obama had it in his ability to break up the big banks, totally restructure finance, he decided not to go that route. And his top advisors, well Robert Rubin, played an enormous role, you know, as the top executive at Citigroup and formerly Goldman Sachs.
He was not going to go that route because these are the people he was listening to. And I think that's continued to be the pattern throughout his administration, that's he's listening to people with a corporate interest, he was just talking about there. Those are the people who are steering the policy.
YVES SMITH: I mean, I'd go a little bit further than Dean on that. In that when you look at Obama's record of his campaign promises versus what he's actually done, there's sort of a normal, acceptable level of political lying, and Obama has gone way past what is historically the normal in terms of, you know, politician fudging and then doing something else when they've been in office. This is just another example.
BILL MOYERS: Do you buy Dean's argument that it is the power of Wall Street? That it is--
YVES SMITH: I think Obama's fundamentally a very conservative person. The idea that he ran as the anti-Bush because the country was desperate for somebody other than Bush. So he sold what would sell. But he's liberal on social issues, but economically, he's not very different than the Republicans.
BILL MOYERS: This discussion brings me to the economy. As you both know, the September jobs report, which was delayed by the government shutdown, was weak by all reports. What is it going to take to turn our economy around for working people and middle class people out there who really are in pain?
DEAN BAKER: Well, we clearly need much more rapid growth, and it's just not on the agenda. And it's sort of like, you know, there they seem to be hoping when I'm saying they, people in Washington, you know, including the Obama administration, somehow something's just going to jump out of nowhere. And the economy doesn't work that way.