Expand The Debate: Jill Stein VS Obama On Stopping The Outsourcing Of American Jobs
During a time when tens of millions of Americans find themselves unemployed, and hundreds of thousands of American jobs continue to move to low-cost labor countries, there is perhaps no single issue more important to America’s economic viability than outsourcing.
Obama, as a Presidential candidate in 2008, was consistent in naming what plagued the country’s job crisis: Free Trade deals.
In 2008, candidate Obama pledged to rewrite NAFTA and explained the problems of Free Trade:
About NAFTA, Sen. Obama said in a Democratic primary forum in 2007: “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.”
About free trade, Sen. Obama said at the same 2007 forum: “… people don’t want a cheaper T-shirt if they’re losing a job in the process. They would rather have the job and pay a little bit more for a T-shirt. And I think that’s something that all Americans could agree to.
As a Senator in 2005, Obama voted against Bush’s Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), citing the following as his reasons:
“There are real problems in the agreement itself. It does less to protect labor than previous trade agreements, and does little to address enforcement of basic environmental standards in the Central American countries and the Dominican Republic…
“So far, almost all of our energy and almost all of these trade agreements are about making life easier for the winners of globalization, while we do nothing as life gets harder for American workers.”
But then Obama was elected President and, despite his promises, made no efforts whatsoever to renegotiate NAFTA. Instead he pushed through THREE job-killing ‘Free Trade’ deals of his own — the kinds he always criticized. The Korean ‘Free Trade’ Deal alone is expected to cost 159,00 American jobs. These agreements were opposed by a major majority of Congressional Democrats, and Obama could only get these NAFTA equivalent deals passed with the help of the Tea Party GOP Freshmen in Congress.
The days of Obama assigning blame to ‘Free Trade’ agreements for the outsourcing of American jobs are long gone. In the Hofstra Presidential Debate, Obama blamed tax loopholes that provide incentive for corporations to outsource. Fair point, but keep in mind that he made this same argument repeatedly as a Candidate in 2008, and did absolutely NOTHING as President to push any bills through Congress to address this offshoring tax incentive.
So it was refreshing to hear Jill Stein speak to this issue in Democracy Now’s ‘Expand The Debate’ series:
So, if the question is how to stop the outsourcing of our jobs, it is very clear we need to stop expanding the Free Trade Agreements that send our jobs overseas, and which also undermine wages here at home by effectively threatening workers that if they don’t drop their wages and their benefits that their jobs are gone.
We saw the first Free Trade Agreement NAFTA enacted under Bill Clinton, a Democrat. We saw it carried out under George Bush. But then we saw Barack Obama expand three Free Trade Agreements, and is now negotiating a secret Free Trade Agreement — the Trans Pacific Partnership — that will continue to offshore jobs, undermine wages, and as well, this time compromise American sovereignty with an international corporate board that can rule on our laws and regulations and say whether or not they pass muster.
This is an absolute outrage against American sovereignty, democracy, and our economy. We need to turn the Free Trade Agreements into Fair Trade Agreements.
And again, the Green New Deal will create the community-based jobs we need here supporting small businesses, worker cooperatives, public services, and public works to put people back to work right now for less than the cost of the first stimulus package.
When you actually assess Obama’s statements on trade, while factoring in his record as President, it is clear that he will continue to push job-killing ‘Free Trade’ Agreements — as will, of course, Mitt Romney. Jill Stein, conversely, intends to actually confront this most pressing crisis.
WATCH (Jill Stein starts at the 2:55 mark):
VIDEO: Green Party Pres. Candidate Jill Stein Discusses Iran And The State Of The Democratic Party
In addition, she revealed how her position on Iran differs from President Obama’s, and then she delved into the details of her Green New Deal, revealing why it would be so much more effective than Obama’s stimulus plan, despite costing roughly the same amount.
Video follows the partial transcript:
So when you run a campaign with a party that’s essentially within the realm of progressive politics, you need to kind of explain to people, I’m sure, over and over again why you aren’t doing this in the Democratic Party. President Obama recently did describe himself as a progressive candidate or president—presidency. So, first of all, why a new party? Why—I shouldn’t say new. Green Party’s been around. But why not working in the Democratic Party?
You know, people are hurting. We’re in crisis in so many ways. You know, let me count the ways. You know, people are hurting for jobs, they’re losing their homes by the millions. They cannot afford their health care. The students are coming out of college up to their eyeballs in debt. Our civil liberties are under attack. And our climate is in great peril. You know, really, across the board we’re facing crisis.
Yet the wealthy few who got us here, who crashed the economy, are making out like bandits, rolling in more dough than ever. And meanwhile we have a political establishment which is making things worse—not only failing to fix it, but actually making it worse, imposing austerity on people while they squander trillions on wars, Wall Street bailouts, and tax breaks for the wealthy.
So, in short, people are clamoring for something different, and there’s a movement out there for democracy and justice that’s alive and well out in the streets and in our communities. It deserves to have a voice in this election and choice come November that’s not bought and paid for by Wall Street or K Street.
And we’ve seen about as far as we can go with the Democratic Party. You know, we just had—we elected a president who claimed to be that progressive. He had both houses of Congress for two years. And people were so bitterly disappointed, they didn’t show up to the polls in 2010. And, you know, we got where we’re going.
We really need real change, not just the change of the corporate representative. We need a party fundamentally about people.
So before we get into some of the big domestic economic questions, which certainly are going to be the overriding issues in the election, let’s take on a bit on the issue of foreign policy. Where do you differentiate, for example, with President Obama when it comes to Iran?
President Obama is waving the flag, you know, for keeping all options on the table, including a preemptive attack on Iran. Yet 16 security agencies for this country and other international agencies agree that there is no evidence that Iran is currently building a bomb or intending to build a bomb. It’s very clear the case needs to be made to Congress and to the American people that there’s reason for war. That’s why we have a congress empowered to declare war. And that case hasn’t begun to be made.
So where we stand is basically with a foreign policy that’s guided by international law, by national law, by human rights, not by the drive for oil. We need a foreign policy that we can stand up and defend. And currently there is no discernible threat to the United States from the actions of Iran.
We do need to watch carefully. We should be pursuing nuclear disarmament, starting in the Middle East. There are many countries who already possess bombs whose governments are extremely unstable and not necessarily friendly to the United States. So the region would benefit enormously from pursuing a very vigorous and active policy of nuclear disarmament. But attacking Iran is only going to get us into very deep trouble.
So let me go back to my first question, then. Some people are raising the issue that, then, why aren’t people like you fighting this out within the Democratic Party, where there’s, in a sense, some access to power? And not that you can—just by joining the Democratic Party you’re going to get power, but could have primaried Obama and forced him to have this debate in some kind of primary campaign. Why not that, versus, you know, a separate-party campaign?
You know, I think people have been there and done it. You know. And it’s fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. I think people considered Obama really the Hail Mary for the Democratic Party. It was—people went all out, and then double that and triple that, and people really went to the wall to try to move progressive politics through a corporate-sponsored political party, and discovered that it just wasn’t [incompr.]
There were people, you know, who really tried to get someone to primary Obama, and nobody would, and to my mind that also speaks volumes about the condition of the Democratic Party. It just is a creature of its corporate funding. That’s not where we’re going to make change.
If you look through the history of progressive politics, independent political parties have played an enormous role in driving forward key issues—abolition, women’s right to vote, 40 hour workweek, the right to organize in our workplaces and form unions. These have all been pushed forward by independent political parties, and we clearly need that in droves.
Read the Full Transcript for segment pertaining to the details of her Green New Deal.
VIDEO: Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein Explains Her Green New Deal To Thom Hartmann
In it, Stein breaks down her FDR-style Green New Deal, her reasons for transitioning from medical doctor to politics, and why America is now ripe for a third party, like the Green Party, whose policy positions, unlike the two major parties, offer real solutions to fix America’s problems.
For those who prefer to read (rather than watch), or for whom English is a second language, I transcribed the first part of the interview. The video interview, in its entirety, follows:
As you know, we’ve got about 25 million people now who need a full-time job. And of them, about five-and-a-half million, or so, have been unemployed for well over a year, or a year-and-a-half. So we have really got this ingrained, entrenched problem. We need a solution to actually rise to the magnitude and the seriousness — the emergency — of this jobs problem.
So the Green New Deal is exactly that. It is modeled after the New Deal that helped get us out of the Great Depression. So it would be basically 25 million jobs that would be created to put people back to work, to end unemployment, and thereby eliminate, put an end to, the recession — at the same time that we transition quickly to a secure green economy for the 21st Century; at the same time we create a secure energy supply.
What’s not to love about this? It’s sort of motherhood and apple pie.
Well, but that’s kind of broad brush strokes. What are the specifics?
Technically, there are four pieces to the Green New Deal. There is a full-employment program that also comes with an economic bill of rights, that also ensures that everyone has a right to, and will have, health care as a human right, education through college, etc, affordable housing …
Sounds like Franklin Roosevelt’s second bill of rights.
Exactly. The name ‘New Deal’ is not a coincidence. It is very much inspired by what FDR did. It had a dramatic impact on the economy, and we need that every bit as much now. The President’s plans have aimed for 2 million jobs, or 3 million jobs. And they’ve sort of come and gone, and those jobs packages have relied a lot on tax breaks which are non-specific. They don’t really get the job done.
So, this specifically would provide the funding to ensure that everyone is back to work. It is estimated to cost about what the stimulus package cost the first time around in 2008. About $700 billion, or thereabouts. But the impact would not be 2 million jobs, or 3 million jobs, but rather 25 million jobs. It would also include financial reform as well as a series of democracy reforms, which clearly we need, if we are going to be able to implement these economic reforms.
But getting to the jobs piece, because that is really what is, I think, front and center in most peoples’ minds. That’s really where the urgent need is. So focusing on that, what the Green New Deal would do would be able to basically create jobs in the areas of the new green economy; to create sustainable communities and thriving local economies.
So what does that mean? That means jobs in typically green areas, like in green renewable energy, in public transportation, in clean manufacturing, and also in local and sustainable agriculture.
So these are sort of the pillars of it. In addition, it would include also jobs that would make our communities socially sustainable. That ensures that we have teachers, and that we have child care, and senior care workers, and after school workers, and so on. It would begin to fill the critical needs. We have people who are willing and able to do the work.
We can redirect funds instead of to wars, Wall Street, and tax breaks for the wealthy. We can redirect that money. There is enough to put, basically invest in our economy to be able to solve the economic problem at the same time that we solve our environmental emergencies.
… Who is Jill Stein?
I am a Medical Doctor by training, that discovered that there were a lot of problems with our health care system, and actually with our health. But that we were neglecting the very simple cost-effective solutions up front. As well as neglecting a win-win Medicare-for-all, single-payer-type health care system that could actually provide the care that people need.
So, as a Medical Doctor, early in my practice, I saw the health care system really failing us. I thought, “Gee, I’m a doctor, I’ll be a public advocate, I will talk to my Legislators.” And, you know, you start doing that, and you learn pretty quickly that if we want to fix the things that are broken — the health care we need, the jobs we need, the healthy communities we need, the schools, you name it — if we want to fix those problems, we have to first fix the political system, which is terribly broken, and unfortunately is being run by the foxes in charge of the chicken coup, here.
And I’d say that over two decades, really, of advocacy, I’d only seen us backslide and backslide to where I began to feel that instead of being a doctor of health care, in the clinic, I needed to move up and be a doctor of politics, which is what I talk about now. Talking about political medicine, because it is sort of the mother of all illnesses at this point. You’ve got to fix that one in order to fix the other ones.