Tag Archives: New Democrat Coalition

Ellen Tauscher: Protecting Freedom-loving Corporations from the horde of Real People at the Gate

So I was talking with an esteemed linguistics scholar at Berkeley (I’ll leave that up to your imagination as to who it is) the other day about Tauscher. I mentioned the couple of interviews with the media and some of the basis for a primary challenge.  I discussed all the areas that really angered us. You know, the “left cliff”,the“kabuki dance”,and my personal worst Tauscherism ever…THE BANKRUPTCY BILL. But we talked about what Tauscher was really doing, and after a little while a few words kept coming up

Tauscher fails to protect Americans from Corporations.  Or, put another way, Tauscher protects Corporations OVER Americans.  She doesn’t fight for the people, rather she fights for DC’s lobbyists.  And don’t take this as some left-wing screed against all business, or all trade or whatever nonsense.  I’m most certainly not against all business.  After all, I like my tech toys, how do I get those without business…or without trade?  No, this is about fair, reasoned trade, not just jumping at every possible deal to allow American companies to exploit foreign labor pools.  I was quoted, well actually paraphrased, in the CoCo Times saying that I believed in ideology over viability.  I assure you this is not what was said, but another part of the remark was accurate:  Once voters hear Tauscher’s record, they won’t like it or her, he said.

Yup, I said that.  It’s true too.  She has a record that sets her up perfectly for a challenge, not from the left per-se, but from populism.  She is actively supporting corporations over people.  A populist primary challenge would hammer her on the fact that she hasn’t stood up against corporatism like her neighbors in CA-11 and CA-07 have.  That’s really what’s underlying everything with her: she’s anti-populist.  She is of the money,or as David Sirota put it, she is a “leader of the Money party”:

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA): Tauscher has been one of the most aggressive spokespeople for the Money Party, using her position to undercut major Democratic efforts to address core economic issues from a middle-class perspective. As an example, it was Tauscher who ran to newspapers desperately trying to let K Street know that she would be working to undermine Democrats’ efforts to reform our trade policy. More recently, she told the New York Times that Democrats would be engaging in a“kabuki dance” with their own base voters – implying that there would be moves for show, but that pay-to-play business as usual in Washington will continue in the new Congress.

In other words, she fights in favor of the moneyed interests over the interests of the people.  Let’s move over the flip…

Let’s start with the bankruptcy bill, and then we’ll get into more stuff later. I’m going to bust out the famous New Democrats’ Letter regarding the bankruptcy bill, and this is all over the place, and most assuredly this won’t be the last time you see it grace these (virtual) pages. (ViaAtrios):


To: NDC Members

From: Reps. Ellen Tauscher, Ron Kind, Artur Davis and Adam Smith

Re: NDC Key Vote Alert!

Date: April 13, 2005

Tomorrow, the House will consider S. 256, The Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act. We write to let you know that final passage of the Bill will be a key vote for the NDC and to encourage you to support this common-sense, bipartisan legislation.

Encourages Personal Responsibility

This bill reflects the New Democrat principle of greater personal responsibility by ensuring that those who have the ability to pay off some of their debt do so, and reaffirming that bankruptcy should be a last resort instead of a first option. Requiring people to file under Chapter 7, rather than Chapter 13, and set up a payment plan to repay some or all of their debt is reasonable and fair.

Protects People Living Below Median Income

Only those living above the median income and who have ability to pay debt will be required to do so. Conversely, millionaires who use bankruptcy as a method of financial planning will no longer be allowed to buy extravagantly and subsequently have all debt written off.

Helps Consumers and Small Businesses

Bankruptcy costs are passed on to other consumers, and the average family pays hundreds of dollars a year in higher prices. Small businesses that might otherwise not be paid for their goods or services will have a better chance of gaining compensation as a result of this bill.

Ensures Help for Most Needy

S. 256 includes protections ensuring alimony and child support payments are made. We believe single parents and dependent children need our help far more than millionaires who benefit from current bankruptcy laws. All consideration will be given to factors including job security, medical bills, and other circumstances.


New Democrats have long fought for common sense changes to our bankruptcy laws. Bankruptcy reform legislation has passed the House of Representatives numerous times. In the 108th Congress, it passed 315 to 113 with 90 Democrats voting for it and 70 percent of NDC members supporting it. Earlier this year, S. 256 passed the Senate with a vote of 74 to 25. It is past time that Congress pass sensible bankruptcy reform.

S. 256, The Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act

YES on Final Passage

I think the years since enactment have proven what a disaster the bankruptcy bill really is.  It’s really one of the worst pieces of legislation ever written.  Is it bipartisan? Sure? The credit card companies paid congress members of both parties to sign onto the legislation that THEY wrote.  This legislation wasn’t Republican or Democratic, nope this was Banky Goodness the whole way.  And as for getting help for the most needy? Then why no exceptions for National Guardsmen, medical catastrophes, or for natural disasters?  Sensible bankruptcy reform? Hardly.

No, this was Ellen Tauscher and the NDC selling out to the corporate elite.  She needs to account for these votes and prove that she deserves re-election.

Results of Ellen Tauscher Sell-Out on Bankruptcy Bill

On the eighth of March, 2005 the Bankruptcy Bill was still in the Senate. But the New Democrat Coalition wanted to get out in front of the issue and expedite the legislation in the House. So they wrote a stern letter to then Speaker Dennis Hastert and put together a press release to declare their, “intention to work across the aisle to pass bankruptcy reform into law.” The entire press release and letter (with NDC Chair Ellen Tauscher in the Hancock position), were posted online by The New Republic under the headline For Shame. TNR’s web response stated in part:

This magazine and multiple other opinion outlets on the center-left have written at length about how the bill in question is a truly contemptible piece of legislation. Worse, there is no plausible political rationale for supporting it other than to appease credit card companies.

Appease the credit card companies they did. The NDC move helped pass the bill, which made MNBA such a valuable commodity that it was bought up by Bank of America. Surprising nobody, least of all NDC members, BOA earnings are up an astonishing 47%

The legislation was truly contemptible and the politics were even worse. Not only did Tauscher sell out, but she triangulated against any Democrat opposing the bill as being out of the mainstream. Here is the second paragraph of NDC’s press release:

“I’m pleased to see so many New Democrats band together in calling for a mainstream solution to bankruptcy reform. I hope Speaker Hastert will heed our calls and move promptly to bring this legislation to the floor soon,” said Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher.

So if anyone says contempt for Tauscher is simply a debate about Rubinomics, they are wrong. This is a problem with a safe Democratic Party seat being wasted on somebody willing to sell out and let the powerful get richer through legislation.

And the days of the Democratic Party screwing over people so corporations get richer are long over.

Last night Jim Webb gave an amazing response to George Bush’s State of the Union. At CMR, Sherry Greenberg explained the significance by noting, “Webb echoed the themes that won it for us in November — the failed folly of Iraq and populism.” Indeed, Democrats have finally found success by doing the exact opposite of the DLC and NDC.

Tauscher’s problem is that Webb could have been talking about just as much about her as the President when it came to economic policy:

When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it’s nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world. Medical costs have skyrocketed. College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them.

In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table. Our workers know this, through painful experience. Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also. And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.

In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy – that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base.

That is how politicians are measured too.

Something to think about with Tauscher having economic meetings with the White House.

Ellen Tauscher Does NOT Share My Values

(Another excellent take on Tauscher – promoted by juls)

Last year, after most of the members of Ellen Tauscher’s New Democrat Coalition made a rare break with their globalist dogma to vote against CAFTA, NDC leaders scurried to assure K Street lobbyists that the Coalition was still on board to promote future free trade agreements.  At the time Roll Call (subscription only) carried this story:

[T]he centrist House New Democrat Coalition is reasserting itself with the business community and sending the message that it has not abandoned its support for opening up global markets.

The first sign of the 43-member coalition’s efforts came late last week when the New Democrat leadership met privately with high-profile business lobbyists to negotiate the terms of an upcoming free trade agreement with Thailand.

That session, the New Democrats say, was the first of many meetings with K Street to help troubleshoot trade deals that are set to come before Congress.

“We want to be sure the business community knows that we are at the ready to work with them, and we are interested in working with them,” said Rep. Ellen Tauscher (Calif.), chairwoman of the New Democrats. […]

Now, the New Democrats are looking to help fine-tune future agreements, including those involving Thailand, the Andean nations, Panama and others. Tauscher said her group is “engaged” and “in the game” when it comes to helping put together upcoming trade policies.

Rep. Artur Davis (Ala.), a New Democrat co-chairman, said the group has a long history of supporting small-scale trade agreements, including those with Chile and Singapore, as well as major deals, such as fast-track trade negotiating authority for the president and Permanent Normal Trade Relations status for China.

One Republican lobbyist who was initially disappointed when the New Democrats bucked K Street to oppose CAFTA last year, made  this comment about the business/NDC relationship:

New Democrats since then “have been reaching out” and trying to find common ground with K Street.

The lobbyist added, however, that the test will come over time as New Democrats stay true to the center even if it means bucking their own party to support Republican ideas.

Now, I think most of us understand the problems presented by CAFTA that forced even Tauscher and the New Democrats to vote against it.  But what about these “small-scale trade agreements”?  What, exactly are their ramifications?  Well, let’s start with the most recent FTA which was passed by the House just a few days ago. David Sirota wrote last Friday about the passage of the Vietnam Free Trade Agreement earlier in the day:

The House tonight caved to K Street and passed the Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. I received a copy of the New Democrats’ press release trumpeting the passage. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) claims that the deal “will help American workers and our economy by opening up a huge market for American industrial and agricultural goods and services.”

Sirota then went on to quote from BusinessWeek regarding the benefits to American businesses that will be relocating their operations to Vietnam to take advantage of the bill passed by Tauscher and her NDC cohorts:

A big reason for the change is rock-bottom wages. As labor shortages in some regions of China drive up costs, factory hands in parts of the mainland can earn more than five times the $55 per month that Vietnamese workers in foreign-owned factories are paid. That differential is a big reason why Sparton Corp. (SPA ) of Jackson, Mich., chose Vietnam over China last year when it made its first investment outside North America. It sank $8 million into a 50,000-square-foot plant to produce chemical diagnostic equipment. “I think productivity and quality will far exceed the U.S.,” says Jason Craft, managing director of Sparton subsidiary Spartronics Vietnam Co.

But it’s not just American manufacturing jobs that are being outsourced to foreign countries under these agreements.  American farmers are also under the gun, being forced to compete for market share with crops produced in other countries.  American commodity producers are increasingly finding themselves in a bind, according to Jeff Gargiulo, CEO of Sunkist, a cooperative of US citrus growers:

Almost half the produce sold in the United States today is grown outside its borders. American producers face increasing competition as the domestic markets are opened to more imports.

Those low-cost products, entering virtually duty free, put American producers at a substantial competitive disadvantage, says Gargiulo. Sunkist lemons grown in California and Arizona, for example, command about $16.50 per 40-pound box wholesale, while lemons transported from Chile earn about $13.50 per box. The major reason for the difference is the average hourly cost for farm and packinghouse labor. In Chile, it’s less than $1 vs. $16 in Sunkist country.

Couple this increasing domestic competition with stagnant export opportunities due to foreign tariff barriers, and American fresh citrus growers face enormous competitive challenges.

Obviously, Tauscher’s highly touted free trade agreements are mostly fair to business, not to labor or Americans concerned with earning a living wage so that they can support themselves and their families.

Finally, not content to just ship American jobs overseas, Tauscher and the New Democrats  have supported these “small-scale” free trade agreements which undermine American workers right here in America.  Under the terms of the Chilean, Singaporean and, now, Vietnamese agreements which are to serve as a model for the future Thai, Andean and Panamanian agreements, an unlimited number of workers may enter the US workforce on L-1 visas.  So what, exactly, is the problem with L-1 visas?

The L-1 visa has tended to attract less controversy in the popular press than its very contentious cousin, the H-1B visa. However, criticism has nevertheless been levelled that the L-1 visa allows foreign or multinational corporations to circumvent proper protections for US workers. For one thing, unlike with the H-1B visa, there is no requirement that the L-1 visa holder be paid a salary commensurate with that of US workers. For another, there is no limit on the number of L-1 visas that are granted annually. This has led to criticism that multinationals, especially consulting agencies, will hire a foreigner abroad for one year, and then transfer them to the US to work for US clients at a low salary as compared to US workers.

So is this how Ellen Tauscher and the New Democrat Coalition envision legislating to “help American workers and our economy”?  Is this the behavior of “a loyal Democrat… a real Dem”?

I’m going to stop right here and make a small confession.  I was motivated to write about Tauscher and her record of support for free trade agreements after reading Katie Merrill’s California Majority Report post yesterday. You know, the part where she said this:

[F]or the netroots, it’s not about an elected official’s entire record, it’s not about how they serve their district, it’s whether the elected official agrees with the netroots on their issue du jour (or, more to the point, issue of the cycle).

You see, I live in CA-10, and I am both a Democratic grassroots activist and a member of the netroots.  Ellen Tauscher gets paid $168,000 a year to go to Washington DC and represent me.  And yet, over the years, Tauscher has been very clear about whose interests she represents in DC, going so far as to make the following statement when she received the US Chamber of Commerce “Spirit of Enterprise” Award for her pro-business agenda: “I am pleased that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce finally set the record straight by putting policy above politics and acknowledging my voting record on behalf of business.”  On the other hand, she has never felt particularly constrained by loyalty to her Democratic base:

Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, said in an interview that party loyalty isn’t the issue. “I don’t remember being elected to go to Washington to be a Democrat,” she said.

So instead of listening to her constituents and the activists who got her elected in the first place, Tauscher sends her lackey to accuse us of fracturing the Democratic party because we have the temerity to question her commitment to Democratic ideals.  Well, Katie Merrill can babble until she gets tired.  At the end of the day, Ellen Tauscher quite simply does not share the Democratic values held by me or any other Democrat in CA-10 of my acquaintance.