Donald Trump Will End Outsourcing If President

Trump ThumbAt the South Carolina Freedom Summit, Donald Trump said that he would impose a hefty 35% tariff on American multinational corporations like Ford Motor Company, in order to stop outsourcing to China and elsewhere. According to the Economic Policy Institute, between 2001 and 2013 the U.S. trade deficit with China cost 3.2 million jobs, with the majority of the losses coming from the manufacturing sector.

Flirting with a 2016 presidential bid, Trump is striking a populist chord with his stance on trade, and it’s a departure from that of the Republican establishment and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both have been working with the Obama administration to push through a massive trade deal with Asia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump’s stance is surprising, not only because of his background in business, but because it would reverse 30+ years of U.S. trade policy. Instituting such a policy reversal would be a Herculean if not impossible task, requiring the eradication of the neoliberal economic orthodoxy ingrained in the DNA of Washington.

Touching on the TPP, Trump said:

China is ripping us off and abusing us because we have leaders that don’t know what they’re doing, and the new trade pact is a disaster because they don’t talk about currency manipulation.

In a further break from the GOP, Trump decried the outsize influence of money in politics. With a personal fortune estimated at $4.1 billion, he said that he would “do the right thing” because he doesn’t need money from lobbyists or donors.

Watch the exchange in the video below, and subscribe to The Undercurrent on YouTube for more independent, on-the-ground political reporting…

GOP Hopeful on Budget: Cut Porno-Watching Gov’t Employees

I asked GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina what specific agencies and/or programs she would cut in order to streamline the federal government, at the South Carolina Freedom Summit. Rather than name specific agencies or programs, the former Hewlett Packard CEO named the following actions she would take:

1.  institute Zero Base Budgeting,

2.  “get after the hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars of fraud, waste, and abuse that has been documented year after year after year, and which no one has ever done anything about,” (One would think with all the documentation Fiorina would be able to cite specific examples.)

3.  and move to a pay-for-performance system for public employees. (This is where the porno-watching comes in.)

Watch the clip below for my exchange with Fiorina, and subscribe to The Undercurrent on YouTube for more independent, on-the-ground political reporting…

GOP Presidential Hopeful: Bruce Jenner Welcome to Campaign with Me

Carson JennerIn a recent and widely seen interview with Diane Sawyer about his transition to womanhood, Bruce Jenner surprised many people with the admission that he is also a Republican. At the South Carolina Freedom Summit, 2016 GOP hopeful Ben Carson was asked if he would campaign with Jenner if he expressed support for Carson’s presidential bid. The former pediatric neurosurgeon replied that all Americans are welcome.

The Republican Party has not been particularly accepting of the LGBT community – Carson himself opposes gay marriage, for example — so his answer raises some questions.

From the look on his face, perhaps Carson did not realize who Bruce Jenner is? If that’s the case, how does Carson not know? Beyond his fame as the Kardashian patriarch and the white-hot media speculation over his gender transition, Jenner is an American Olympic hero, having won the gold medal for the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal games… Has Carson been living under a rock?

On the other hand, if Carson does know who Jenner is, then welcoming him is an opportunity to differentiate himself from the crowded 2016 field as a social conservative who is also open-minded. Will other GOP hopefuls like Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush follow Carson’s lead?

Republicans like to talk about being a “big-tent” party. Jenner is their chance to prove it.

(Jenner prefers masculine pronouns and to be called by Bruce.)

Watch the video below to see Carson’s response:

Scott Walker Lied, GOP Prosecutor Says

Walker Witch Hunt

Introducing Naked News, a segment collaboration between Lauren Windsor of The Undercurrent and Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy

Brendan reports on the pushback from the GOP prosecutor investigating Scott Walker, who recently said that the John Doe probe is a partisan witch hunt. At the South Carolina Freedom Summit, Lauren followed up, asking Walker how he could call the investigation a partisan witch hunt when it’s being led by a Republican prosecutor who voted for him.

Watch the report and subsequent exchange with Walker below…

GOP Rep Says Christians Are Persecuted in the US, Can’t Give Examples

At the South Carolina Freedom Summit, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN 7) advocated State Department intervention when asked what role the United States should play in protecting Christians around the world:

One of the things that we should be doing here is being very strong in our stance with religious freedom in our country… Our allies around the globe want to see us stay strong on our rights and not erode those rights… With the human rights violations and religious persecutions around the globe, we need a State Department that is going to step in and say, “This is not acceptable.”

Blackburn thought that Christians are being persecuted in the U.S., but could not give any examples when asked by this reporter. Watch her remarks below:

GOP Crowd Applauds Calling Immigrants Rats and Roaches

SCF Rats and Roaches2

During a focus group led by GOP pollster Frank Luntz at the South Carolina Freedom Summit, the mother-in-law of Citizens United president David Bossie compared immigrants to rats and roaches, to the delight of the audience. Bossie is the organizer of the summit, one in a series of cattle calls for GOP presidential hopefuls.

Asked by Luntz to give advice to the these candidates, she said:

One man, one vote. People are comin’ in this country across the borders like rats and roaches in the wood pile. We’ve got a state like Minnesota that says it’s not our business to check ’em out, we just register ’em. We’ve got to get control. That’s what they need to know.

Her comments drew laughter, whistling, and applause. Afterwards, Luntz asked the audience if they would vote for Bossie’s mother-in-law for president, which drew louder cheers and applause.

These sentiments were not outliers. No stranger to making controversial anti-immigration remarks himself, Congressman Steve King told the crowd that he would make a concession on the issue:  “every time we let an immigrant in, we’ll deport a Leftist.” King was also a co-host at the Iowa event of this series.

Immigration has become a thorny issue for the Republican Party ahead of a 2016 race that could hinge on the Latino vote. For that reason, many regard Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, as the GOP’s best chance to win the presidency. Rubio also spoke at the South Carolina Freedom Summit, but he did not address the issue… Wonder why?

Watch video of the rats and roaches remarks here:

Progressive Leaders: It’s Time to Put Families First in Job Policy

On April 29, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Keith Ellison (D-MN 5), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) joined the Center for Community Change in its launch of the “Putting Families First: Good Jobs for All” program. Highlights from the conference include the above legislators, CCC’s executive director Deepak Bhargava, Dem pollster Celinda Lake, and activist Reina Acosta.

Washington, DC: April 29, 2015

“Clinton Cash” Author to Kochs: Don’t Let Up on the Left

Peter Schweizer claims to be non-partisan, but is really a right-wing political operative.

Schweizer Thumb

The road to 2016 will be a bumpy one for Hillary Clinton, despite the dearth of competition in the Democratic field. The Republican offensive has been ongoing since the 2012 Benghazi attack, and has gained steam in recent months with E-mailgate, and now “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Clinton Rich.” The book’s author, the conservative consultant and activist Peter Schweizer, maintains that “Clinton Cash” is non-partisan.

But according to audio obtained by The Undercurrent and Lady Libertine from a source who was present, Schweizer spoke at a political strategy summit for the Koch brothers last summer, urging donors to relentlessly pursue the left and rallying them ahead of a big fundraising pitch. His own organization, the Government Accountability Institute receives funding from Koch-funded groups.

Schweizer told the crowd:

That debate is going to come down to the question of independence versus dependence… The left and the academic sphere is not going to let up. The question is, are we going to let up? And I would contend to you that we cannot let up.

Asked if “Clinton Cash” was motivated by this strategy of relentless pursuit, Kurt Bardella, whose firm, Endeavor Strategies, represents Schweizer, said:

As he has in several speeches as a lifelong conservative, Schweizer was espousing his view that conservatives should be informed, engaged, and active.

Kevin Gentry, the emcee and a vice president of the Charles Koch Foundation, later named “competitive intelligence,” the business terminology equivalent of opposition research, as one of the enumerated Koch political investment areas.

Despite an admitted lack of direct evidence, Schweizer’s allegations have been given a turbo boost in beltway media circles by the veneer of credibility from exclusive partnerships with the New York Times, Washington Post, and Fox News, causing substantial turmoil for the Clintons and their foundation. In response, the Clinton campaign and allied organizations characterize Schweizer as yet another right-wing hit man. He in turn points to his forthcoming exposé on Jeb Bush.

Although the Kochs have not explicitly endorsed a 2016 presidential candidate, media speculation rests heavily on Scott Walker. Asked whether Schweizer is investigating Jeb Bush at the behest of the Koch brothers, Bardella simply said, “No.”

Schweizer is also the president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), a right-wing opposition research shop that receives money from the Koch-funded Donors Trust. The draft agenda published by this reporter in The Nation last June listed Schweizer as a speaker at the their biannual gathering of millionaire and billionaire donors.

Schweizer’s speech, entitled “The Stakes: Who Will Define the American Dream,” teed up the Kochs’ appeal to raise $290 million in donations for their fundraising hub, Freedom Partners, its affiliated network of non-profits, and a newly created super-PAC called Freedom Partners Action Fund. Bardella declined to answer whether Schweizer was speaking in a fundraising capacity for GAI, or whether Schweizer or GAI received any funds from Koch-affiliated organizations.

Stephen Bannon, the director of conservative propaganda films like the Sarah Palin biopic “The Undefeated” and a frequent collaborator with Citizens United Productions, chairs GAI’s board. Another GAI board member is Ron Robinson, who also sits on the boards of Citizens United and Citizens United Foundation.

Citizens United Productions was the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – the decision that rolled back significant campaign finance law pertaining to independent expenditures. At the center of that landmark case was a political documentary-cum-attack ad on Hillary Clinton called “Hillary: The Movie,” released ahead of the 2008 primary. Now nearly eight years later ahead of the 2016 primary, Schweitzer has published what could be considered the follow-up, Hillary: The Book.

At the conference last summer, a source said that the Kochs were raising $500 million to take back the Senate and $500 million to make sure that Hillary Clinton is never president. What seemed like an exaggeration at the time now appears to have more veracity, given that the Kochs have disclosed that they plan to raise nearly $900 million for 2016. Peter Schweizer has said that he has been working on this book for the past year, which would put the start of his research to right before the Koch conference.

Click here for the text transcript of Schweizer’s remarks, and here for the full responses from Kurt Bardella on behalf of Peter Schweizer.

(Disclosure: Aside from reporting on The Undercurrent and Lady Libertine, I am the executive director of a progressive non-profit called American Family Voices, where we advocate for a populist economic agenda. The president of AFV is Mike Lux, who formerly worked in the Clinton administration.)

Trans-Pacific Partnership Spearheaded by White House, Spurned by Progressives

Yesterday, Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO national federation of labor unions, acknowledged that the White House has been going around his back to try to get individual locals (local branches of unions) on board for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Not only is this tactic disrespectful to a long-time ally, but it’s futile — labor is united against a treaty that would further erode worker protections and environmental safeguards.

But the administration is pressing hard for the passage of the bill — former White House staffers have formed an astroturf advocacy group called the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs, which appears to be neither progressive, nor a coalition. Under fire from the left for a lack of transparency, PCAJ has declined to name any of its members or sources of its funding.

The TPP, called “NAFTA on Steroids” by progressives, has been roundly criticized as a giveaway to multinational corporations. And the pushback is bipartisan — detractors decry the Investor State Dispute Settlement courts that would undermine U.S. sovereignty by allowing corporations to sue the government for any regulations that impede their profits. Wall Street is the oft-cited example, given that derivatives trading is hugely lucrative and a frequent target of regulators.

Trumka called the TPP a handout to Wall Street, and I asked him to explain why… Subscribe to The Undercurrent on YouTube for more on-the-ground, independent political reporting.