Opponents of President Obama's trade agenda have been outmaneuvered on Capitol Hill, and now the legislation that the House rejected in a dramatic vote earlier this month could pass this week, writes The Washington Post's Greg Sargent. A crucial vote is scheduled for Tuesday in the Senate.
Democrats in the House oppose the trade deal Obama is negotiating in the Pacific. Once a final version of the deal is ready, the president wants the authority to send it to Congress for lawmakers' approval in an up or down vote, without any amendments. Modifications, which would have to be approved by other nations, would make the process that much more convoluted.
The main bill in Congress right now gives Obama that authority. To try to stop it, his opponents in the House voted against a second bill that would provide assistance for workers and businesses displaced by trade.
That second bill failed, stalling the main bill for several days.
It was just a bluff, though. Democrats in the House didn't have the votes to stop the main trade bill, so their opposition couldn't do much more than create a procedural delay -- and they don't really want to hang those workers and businesses out to dry in the breeze of globalization.
The main bill later passed the House separately with the votes of Republicans who support trade, and now the Senate is calling the bluff.
Several centrist Democratic senators share Obama's position: they support the trade deal, as long as workers and firms win some protection. They can have their cake and eat it, too: If the upper chamber passes both bills, the main bill will go to the White House, and House Democrats will have little choice but to revisit that second bill, which they rejected earlier.
If Democrats in the Senate think that second bill -- giving help to those displaced by trade -- won't succeed in the House, they might vote against the rest of the trade agenda, too. So Democrats in the House have a a couple of cards left to play.
They could intimate that they'll vote a second time against protecting workers and firms from globalization, even though it's something they clearly want. As Alex Brown reports in National Journal, they can question Republicans' honesty and suggest that even if the second bill passes the Senate, the GOP leadership in the House will refuse to bring it to the floor for a vote.
Their colleagues in the Senate aren't buying it, though. They're confident that when the chips are down, Republicans will bring the second bill up for a vote again, and Democrats will go along.
What's in Wonkbook: 1) The Confederate flag 2) Opinions, including Roberts on people who are jerks 3) Takata's air bags, and more
Chart of the day: "The Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been a conservative court. But even conservative courts have liberal terms – and the current term is leaning left as it enters its final two weeks. ... The court's leftward movement is modest, and it remains well to the right of where it was in the Warren court years, when the percentage of liberal decisions routinely topped 70 percent. Yet the recent numbers do seem suggestive of a shift." Alicia Parlapiano, Adam Liptak and Jeremy Bowers in The New York Times.
1. Top story: Haley calls for removal of Confederate flag
Haley changes her mind and tells legislators to take the flag down. "South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called Monday for the removal of the Confederate flag flying on the state capitol grounds... In urging state legislators to remove the flag from the sky above the birthplace of the Confederacy, Haley joined a chorus of leaders from across the political spectrum and around the country that has grown rapidly in the days since a white gunman killed nine black people at a church in Charleston. ... As recently as last year, Haley dismissed calls to move the flag... Although she has reversed her position, removing the flag still requires a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the state legislature. Lawmakers could debate the proposal as a black cloth still drapes the Senate desk once occupied by Pinckney, who had been elected to represent his Charleston district." Jeremy Borden, Mark Berman and Todd C. Frankel in The Washington Post.
Graham is now against the flag as well. "Lindsey Graham on Monday joined his home state’s two other top elected officials in calling for the Confederate battle flag’s removal from the Capitol grounds, just a few days after the senior South Carolina senator said that while it was time for South Carolinians to consider taking down the flag, it marked a 'part of who we are.' " Daniel Strauss at Politico.
Republicans have had a really hard time talking about the issue, unlike Clinton. "The Republican hopefuls mostly stammered and stumbled in response to the shootings. At first, some resisted calling the massacre racially motivated, only to reverse course when it became obvious it was. Most stopped short of calling for South Carolina leaders to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol in Columbia. Some, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, declined to comment at all. Only after South Carolina’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, emotionally declared Monday that the flag should come down did most GOP candidates join the chorus. ... Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, by contrast, has forcefully initiated a conversation about race and bigotry in recent days. At this moment of national trauma, the Republican candidates seemed as though they didn’t know what to say." Philip Rucker and Anne Gearan in The Washington Post.
COATES: The flag is a symbol of white supremacy. "In announcing her support for removing the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asserted that killer Dylann Roof had a 'a sick and twisted view of the flag' which did not reflect 'the people in our state who respect and in many ways revere it.' If the governor meant that very few of the flag’s supporters believe in mass murder, she is surely right. But on the question of whose view of the Confederate Flag is more twisted, she is almost certainly wrong. ... The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten." The Atlantic.
PHILIP KLEIN: This is a proud moment for Haley and for the country. "The flag is an ugly symbol of treason, slavery, violence and racism, yet under the guise of 'heritage' it has maintained a prominent position in a public space in a state in which 1.3 million residents, or about 30 percent of the population, is black. ... [Removing the flag] won't bring back any of the victims of the Charleston church shooting. Nor will it end racism in this country. But it is, nonetheless, a seminal moment in America for race relations." The Washington Examiner.
Quote of the day: "The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives — that casts a long shadow, and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on. We’re not cured of it — racism, we are not cured of it. It’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say 'nigger' in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t overnight completely erase everything that happened 2-300 years prior," Obama said in an interview with comedian Marc Maron that aired Monday. These charts show the persistent legacy of racist laws in the housing market and the economy, at school, on Election Day and more. Emily Badger in The Washington Post.
GOPNIK: Without gun control, it's only a matter of time before the next massacre. "The reason that we have gun massacres in numbers wildly out of proportion to any other rich country is because we have too many guns. ... Gun control works to end, or at least limit, gun violence. It is as robust a correlation as any in the social sciences, as sure a thing, as I’ve written before, as knowing that antibiotics act to limit and end infections. ... On most public issues, there are two reasonable views, even when one view seems, to put it mildly, cruel—the view, say, that poor people should be left without medical insurance. But on gun control there isn’t. All the facts are in; all the social science is long settled; the constitutional positions are clear." The New Yorker.
2. Top opinions
ROBERTS: Some rich people are jerks. "If you are a rich person, a person who has benefited enormously from the status quo, and you are offered an ideology that serves to justify your good fortune, an ideology that tells you you deserve everything you have, that the poor deserve less because they don't work as hard and aren't as smart, that extreme income inequality reflects merit, that trying to help other people actually does them harm ... You ought to be damn sure you have good reasons, that you haven't just fallen for a self-justifying fairy tale. But rich people in the US, by and large, don't seem to interrogate their priors at all. ... As polls, surveys, and their political interventions reveal, they develop horrifying views about the lazy, shiftless, undeserving poor, the 47 percent of the country that consists of moochers and takers who vote Democrat because they want Obama phones and food-stamp steaks." Vox.
PONNURU: Rand Paul's new tax plan still doesn't add up. "Paul says, 'I propose we cut taxes for everyone -- rich and poor.' He delivers on at least the first half of that promise. The net effect of Paul's plan is that the top tax rate on labor income falls from its current 43.4 percent to 26.9 percent. Taxes on capital gains and dividends would fall to 14.5 percent, and taxes on estates to zero. Paul has said that the plan 'shows that we have something that we can offer to the working class.' For the middle class, however, the plan looks like a wash: What middle-income households no longer owe in payroll taxes they'll pay in hidden consumption taxes. ... What Paul is proposing is a big tax cut for high earners and businesses with almost no direct benefits for most Americans." Bloomberg View.
SALAM: Conservatives should embrace Hillary Clinton's proposal for apprenticeships. "Clinton is calling for a new tax credit that would encourage employers to create and expand apprenticeship programs. Conservatives would do well to follow her lead, and to go further. ... Many employers report that they are struggling to find qualified workers to fill vacant jobs, despite high levels of unemployment and underemployment, particularly among young adults. One obvious solution would be for employers to hire on the basis of a worker’s potential to do a job well rather than her ability to do it well right off the bat, and then to provide the worker in question with the necessary training. This is easier said than done, however, as this training process can be costly. ... Apprenticeships allow entry-level workers to gain work-based skills and experience at a wage commensurate with the fact that they have yet to master their new jobs." National Review.
3. In case you missed it
Democratic lawmakers say Takata may have put profits before safety. "The report by the minority on the Senate Commerce Committee was released the day before a Washington hearing on Takata's defective inflators. Those faulty parts have been linked to hundreds of injuries and at least eight deaths globally - all in Honda Motor Co Ltd vehicles - because of air bags that deploy with too much force and spray metal shards at passengers. ... The Democrats said Takata emails indicate plant safety audits were halted from 2009 to 2011 'due to financial reasons.' ... Takata said the report contained 'a number of inaccuracies' and that internal emails reviewed by the committee had been taken out of context and characterized in a way that 'creates a false impression.' " Ben Klayman for Reuters.