Clinton administration trade and economics official Gene Sperling had a curious op-ed today. Sirota wrote a little context on Gene's piece. But I was especially struck by how Gene admitted that critics of the Deathstar Deal have a point when they say it will do nothing to raise U.S. living standards, that other policies are needed. This is similar to what Paul Krugman said in his piece on the soft bigotry of the deal last week.
Juxtaposed with this admission however is Gene's lede, falsely suggesting that fair trade groups are claiming that "following the Democratic sweep of Congress last year, it's time for partisanship and payback."
Besides the basic point that democracy doesn't work unless the voters are having their will represented by the officials that they elect (calling this a payback seems pretty cynical), Gene seems to be suggesting that fighting for fair trade policies is some sort of special interest fight.
A special interest payback scenario would be if my Grandma, who makes delicious delicious homemade peanut butter, demanded some sort of tax break on peanut grinders but only for old ladies that live in her home of Blytheville, Arkansas.
Or, in a more relevant example for the Peru FTA, like pharmaceutical giants demanding that governments protect their monopoly patents for excessive periods of time, or Citibank benefiting from a provision in the FTA that gives it rights to sue the Peruvian government if the people in Peru reverse their failed social security privatization.
But there is no prominent labor rights or fair trade group that has taken a special interest approach to their demands on trade deals. Fair trade groups have suggested that we go beyond the failed Jordan FTA model to talk about trade policies that actually raise living standards both here and abroad. This is a very "general interest" or "public interest" approach, not a special interest approach. In fact, it's what democracy looks like.