Earlier this week, in my article titled, Hillary Clinton is in Deep Trouble – “Hordes of Wall Street Executives” Descend Upon Philly, I highlighted how all the Wall Street executives and lobbyists who avoided the RNC were excitedly flooding into the Democratic Convention. Here’s an excerpt:
Lobbyists are being welcomed back into the fold of the Democratic Party as the Obama era draws to a close.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has accepted more than $9 million in bundled donations from registered lobbyists, while the DNC has rolled back the lobbyist bans that Obama put into place.
“In 2008 and 2012, there was no integration with the [Obama] campaign,” said Al Mottur, a senior Democratic lobbyist at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, adding that he would have liked to have helped. “Now, the campaign is welcoming — they’re open to us. That’s why I’ve done as much work for her as I’ve done on her behalf.”
For 2016, the DNC reversed the prohibition on lobbyist cash entirely, both for the party and the convention, giving corporations and lobbyists the opportunity to participate fully.
Clinton’s candidacy is also a draw for those on K Street, many of whom have been involved with the family for years.
“The community is supporting her, there is no question about that,”said David Castagnetti of Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas. His firm is also kicking off the convention with a party on Monday…
Hordes of industry executives will descend on the city to celebrate Hillary Clinton’s nomination for president and renew close associations that vexed the Democratic standard-bearer throughout her primary battle with Bernie Sanders.
Blackstone, one of the nation’s largest private equity firms, will hold an official reception in Philadelphia on Thursday featuring its president, Tony James, sometimes mentioned as a possible Treasury Secretary in a Clinton administration.
Hedge fund managers and top Democratic donors including Avenue Capital’s Marc Lasry and Boston Provident’s Orin Kramer will also be on the scene as will Morgan Stanley executive and former top Clinton aide Tom Nides. Executives from Citigroup, JPMorganChase and other large banks will also prowl the streets and bar rooms of Philadelphia.
Republicans with ties to the financial industry will also be there, a sharp contrast to Donald Trump’s convention in Cleveland, which Wall Street largely shunned over fears of the GOP nominee’s populist agenda on trade, immigration and Wall Street reform.
To prove the point, yesterday I read a perfect followup piece by David Dayen, which was published at the New Republic. What follows are several choice excerpts from the must read article titled, The DNC Is One Big Corporate Bribe:
To get to the Democratic National Convention, you take the subway to the AT&T Station and walk to the Wells Fargo Center. Along the way, you’ll stroll by the Comcast Xfinity Live complex, where delegates and honored guests can booze it up. You’ll also see the “Cars Move America” exhibit, an actual showroom sponsored by Ford, GM, Toyota, and others. Finally, you’ll reach your seat and watch Democrats explain why we have to reduce the power of big corporations in America.
Party conventions have always been collection points for big money. But many major corporations sat out last week’s Republican gathering for fear of Trump contamination. There’s no such reticence here in Philadelphia; in fact, it feels like they’re making up for that lack of investment.
As Politico’s Ben White reported on Monday, private equity firm Blackstone has a meet-and-greet on Thursday. Independence Blue Cross, the southeastern Pennsylvania arm of the large insurer, held a host-committee reception Tuesday; their chief executive is the finance chair of that host committee. The same day, Le Meridien hotel had a private event for Bloomberg LP, and the Logan Hotel hosted “Inspiring Women, a Luncheon Discussion.” The sponsors included Johnson & Johnson, Walgreens, AFLAC, the Financial Services Roundtable (the industry trade lobby), and New York Life. (How many people were they serving, given the number of corporations involved?)
Facebook commandeered a bar inside the Wells Fargo Center for delegates and guests. Twitter rented out an entire restaurant, bestowing attendees with free breakfast, lunch and an open bar. (Full disclosure: I had a slider and some salad. The way I see it, I’ve boosted their market value through the free labor of tweeting and deserve something back.) And when the speeches end, convention-goers fan out to a sea of mostly industry-sponsored parties. A particular favorite of convention delegates is the Distilled Spirits Council kickoff, which in Philadelphia featured music from Jason Isbell and former Eagle Joe Walsh.
None of this is considered money toward the convention, which is being entirely privately funded for the first time. The donors who are actually paying for the festivities in Philly are anonymous. So God (and Debbie Wasserman Shultz) only knows where it all comes from. And clearly the DNC wants to keep it that way.
The DNC’s host committee refuses to disclose the names despite a court order, allowing corporate benefactors to hide behind anonymity. The 2014 “CRomnibus” budget law massively increased contribution limits for political convention committees, which can raise up to $800,000 from a single donor per year. And overlooked by emails showing possible anti-Bernie Sanders bias by DNC officials in the Democratic primaries, the WikiLeaks trove released last Friday actually detailed how the DNC woos big donors with gifts and perks.
The whole spectacle is not technically considered lobbying, but it may have a more insidious effect. Not only are elected officials compromised by their proximity to big money—a version of this happens daily in Washington, after all—but the delegates, usually the grassroots activists most likely to pressure their members of Congress to stand up for Democratic values, get caught up in the muck as well.
Former Attorney General and corporate lawyer Eric Holder took time off from his work with Uber and Airbnb to address the convention. Former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, now Global Chief Communications Officer for McDonald’s, showed up in a video. Howard Dean praised Hillary Clinton on health care, but strangely left out her support for the public option. Perhaps that’s because he’s a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry, which doesn’t want government insurance plans driving down prices. Even former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who added her praise of Clinton to others’ on Tuesday night, has her own lobbying firm. And Tuesday closer Bill Clinton also has a certain, er, comfort with the corporate world.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I need a shower after reading that.
So while we’re on the topic of blatant corporate ownership of the Democratic Party, let’s finish this piece off with an observation about the TPP. As longtime Clinton ally and former DNC head, Terry McAuliffe admitted the other day, Hillary Clinton will flip her faux opposition to the TPP and support it if elected President.
As Politico reported:
PHILADELPHIA — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, longtime best friend to the Clintons, said Tuesday that he believes Hillary Clinton will support the TPP trade deal if elected president, with some tweaks.
“I worry that if we don’t do TPP, at some point China’s going to break the rules — but Hillary understands this,” he said in an interview after his speech on the main stage at the Democratic National Convention. “Once the election’s over, and we sit down on trade, people understand a couple things we want to fix on it but going forward we got to build a global economy.”
Pressed on whether Clinton would turn around and support the trade deal she opposed during the heat of the primary fight against Bernie Sanders, McAuliffe said: “Yes. Listen, she was in support of it. There were specific things in it she wants fixed.”
Later, McAuliffe’s spokesman sought to clarify the governor’s remarks after this story published, saying he was simply expressing what he wants Clinton to do if she is elected president. “While Governor McAuliffe is a supporter of the TPP, he has no expectation Secretary Clinton would change her position on the legislation and she has never told him anything to that effect.”
Of course, you’d have to mired in hopeless denial or an utter moron to not understand this. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has been signaling her true intentions in public statements regarding the TPP all along. Here is what her campaign has said:
“I’m continuing to learn about the details of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, including looking hard at what’s in there to crack down on currency manipulation, which kills American jobs, and to make sure we’re not putting the interests of drug companies ahead of patients and consumers. But based on what I know so far, I can’t support this agreement.
“As I have said many times, we need to be sure that new trade deals meet clear tests: They have to create good American jobs, raise wages, and advance our national security. The bar has to be set very high for two reasons.
“First, too often over the years we haven’t gotten the balance right on trade. We’ve seen that even a strong deal can fall short on delivering the promised benefits. So I don’t believe we can afford to keep giving new agreements the benefit of the doubt. The risks are too high that, despite our best efforts, they will end up doing more harm than good for hard-working American families whose paychecks have barely budged in years.
“Second, we can’t look at this in a vacuum. Years of Republican obstruction at home have weakened U.S. competitiveness and made it harder for Americans who lose jobs and pay because of trade to get back on their feet. Republicans have blocked the investments that we need and that President Obama has proposed in infrastructure, education, clean energy, and innovation. They’ve refused to raise the minimum wage or defend workers’ rights or adequately fund job training.
“As a result, America is less competitive than we should be. Workers have fewer protections, the potential positive effects of trade are diminished, and the negative effects are exacerbated. We’re going into this with one arm tied behind our backs.
“I still believe in the goal of a strong and fair trade agreement in the Pacific as part of a broader strategy both at home and abroad, just as I did when I was Secretary of State. I appreciate the hard work that President Obama and his team put into this process and recognize the strides they made. But the bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don’t believe this agreement has met it.”
This statement is so flimsy, and so void of any details, it’s essentially worthless. Especially from someone who publicly and ebulliently supported the TPP 45 times in the past. Notice that on several occasions she explains that she can’t support it “based on what I have seen.” Meanwhile, she only specifically takes issue with two topics, currency manipulation and “putting the interests of drug companies ahead of patients and consumers.” Even here, she doesn’t get into specific changes she would demand in order to support the deal, and she doesn’t say a word about the sovereignty destroying ISDS system that has generated so much justifiable outrage.
In fact, she spends half the statement talking about Republicans while diverting attention away from the TPP, something which is par for the Hillary Clinton course when it comes to being confronted with a question that makes her uncomfortable.
So what is she signaling in that statement? It’s simple really, she’s saying she can’t support it now, but fails to specify what actual changes would be necessary to change her opinion. She thinks this gives her a future opening to vigorously support the agreement once a few superficial tweaks are made. She’ll then claim this was consistent with her position all along.
This woman is a compulsive liar with no conscience, and if you expect her to do anything but aggressively push the TPP once in office, you’ve lost all capacity for rational thought.
Finally, just to prove the point. Here’s a brief paragraph describing Tim Kaine’s career long love affair with destructive “free trade” agreements.
Kaine appears to have had a similar conversion to being a skeptic of trade deals over just the past week. He was one of just 13 Senate Democrats to vote with the president for fast-track last year and has a long history of backing trade deals. But an aide confirmed he now opposes the TPP, after previously talking positively about much of it.
As P. T. Barnum reportedly said: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
The Democrats are banking on it.
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