Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Reps.

There's a war on for the heart of our party, and it seems that Speaker Pelosi has chosen sides.  In a story that lamentably hasn't recieved the coverage that it deserves, Speaker Pelosi shows that she clearly didn't get the message of last month's election.  The base of people power is populism, the sovereignty of the people.

Speaker Pelosi has a arranged a series of seminars for freshman representatives.  On Wednesday, December 5, freshman representatives will be subjected to indoctrination in economics of fucking the people who sent you to Washington over by Robert Rubin, a free trade fanatic from the Clinton administration. It gets worse, Speaker Pelosi banned Labor from sending representatives to offer an opposing view.  Never in my life did I think that I would see a Democratic speaker of the House ban Labor from talking to the people's representatives.

From William Greider writing for the Nation. Greider write about the response of Labor leaders when told that Rubin would have the stage to himself.

When labor officials heard about this, they asked to be included since they have very different ideas about what Democrats need to do in behalf of struggling workers and  middle-class families. Pelosi decided against it. This session, her spokesman explains, is only about "fiscal responsibility," not globalization and trade, not the deterioration of wages and disappearing jobs. Yet those subjects are sure to come up for discussion. Rubin gets to preach his "free trade" dogma with no one present to rebut his facts and theories.

A fundamental debate is growing within the party around these economic issues and Pelosi knows this. It is seriously unwise for this new Speaker to leave an impression she has already chosen sides. The interpretation by Washington insiders will be: Pelosi is "safe;" she is not going to threaten Rubin's Wall Street orthodoxy. Far-flung voters will begin to conclude Democrats are the same-old, same-old money party. This is the sort of party "unity" that can earn Pelosi a very short honeymoon.

But this isn't just about one seminar for freshman Representatives, it's about a war for the heart of the party.  
While I think that the dichotomy between what Sirota termed the People  Party vs. the Money Party is oversimplified, what he's trying to capture is very real and very threatening to the interests of working people.  My operating theory is that Sirota's suffering from a subdermal hematoma after hearing about Pelosi banning Labor from the seminar this Wednesday.  At this point, and after having detailed the numerous things ways that that the party leadership is betraying working people, I think all he can see is red.

Sirota's not alone though.  In chronicling the election of populist candidates in Ohio, Virginia, and Montana, the New York Times identified the players in the battle going in the party between the Clintonites and the representatives of Labor. That article is now behind a subscription wall, but from that article.

Just as the populists have organized, tentatively calling their group Shared Prosperity, so has the Democratic establishment. Its counterpart is "the Hamilton Project," formed last spring to elaborate policies in anticipation of a Democratic Congress and, in 2008, a Democratic victor in the presidential election. Mr. Orszag, who was a senior economist in the Clinton administration, directs the project. The financing comes from wealthy Democrats, among them Mr. Rubin.

Labor isn't content to sit by idly and allow the new Congress to pursue the same failed economic policies that have seen America divide economically.  Bloomberg details the division in greater detail noting that while there are multiple cleavages at work the principal divide is over free trade deal.

Labor leaders and the nascent "Shared Prosperity" group want to see the new Congress put new trade deals on hold until labor protections can be guaranteed. The group of Wall Street backed economists organized as the "Hamilton Project" and financed in large party by Rubin want to push further trade deals, and limit personal injury lawsuits.

While Labor leaders and Rubin have been meeting on a regular basis the hostility in the air is palpable.

Speaking on Rubin's proposed economic agenda, AFL-CIO Treasurer Richard Trumka and other leaders had little good to say.

``The strategy you propose offers little, in my view, to either bolster economic growth or address the stagnating wages and living standards of American working families,'' Trumka wrote in a Feb. 7 letter to Rubin. ``I am simply astonished that you would suggest such a politically toxic agenda for the Democratic Party.''

``When the wizards of Wall Street start dictating Democratic policy, the first to be forgotten are the Democratic voters who made these election successes possible,'' said Rick Sloan, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. ``We get screwed every time these guys grab the handles of power. They forget the need to create jobs. They are much more interested in Chinese growth than Cleveland's growth.''

For their part the principals in the Hamilton Project have not been above deriding the concerns of labor as extremist and implying that Labor just might be Communist.

Steven Rattner, co-founder of New York investment firm Quadrangle Group LLC and a member of the Hamilton Project's advisory council, gave voice to those differences in a July Wall Street Journal guest editorial.

Rattner criticized ``more extreme factions'' of the party who ``argue that the centrism of the Clinton administration doesn't adequately address 21st-century fears.'' He said they ``offer in its place statist visions of organizing economic policy around belittling American capitalism'' while trumpeting ``unionization and protection.''

While the "Shared Prosperity" group has no web page at this time, the Economic Policy Insititute is perceived to be the think tank wing of the group.  The Hamilton Project already has a page up at which you can view some of their ideas for the country.

While both groups have tried to maintain cordial relations, the issues that divide aren't going away, and the perception by the Pelosi-Rubin wing of the party that this year's election was a mandate for the return of Clitonite economic policies is bound to create conflict.  What makes the self-entitlement of the "Hamilton Project" group all the more enfuriating is that without the $40 Million from Labor the victory of Democrat's in November's election would likely not have occurred.  The impression is that before she's even sworn in as Speaker, Pelosi deigned to stab Labor in the back.

And all this has implication for 2008 and beyond.  Hillary Clinton is the most likely heir to power for the group of interests behind the "Hamilton Project", while with the withdrawl of Russ Feingold from consideration, John Edwards is the most likely standard-bearer for Labor and the "Shared Prosperity" group. This is not the first time that the Democratic Party had this fight.

During the New Deal, Roosevelt faced considerable opposition from the DLC of that day led by Al Smith the 1928 Democratic presidential nominee, who would endorse Republicans in 1936 and 1940 to epress his oppositon the New Deal.  Searching for a fitting description of the Republicans and Demcratic traitors who fought him so vigorously on the New Deal, Roosevelt speaking to the 1936 Democratic Convention coined the term "economic royalists."

For out of this modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things. Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital - all undreamed of by the Fathers - the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service.

Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people's mandate to end it. Under that mandate it is being ended.

The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody's business. They granted that the government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live.

And so it is again.  The 1930 election saw Democrats pick up 52 House seats and 8 Senate seats. But it was only during the 1932 Democratic primary when Roosevlt beat out Al Smith for the nomination the the New Deal and the Democratic consensus that dominated the country during the fifth party system from 1932 to 1968.

We have a decision to make. Will the Demomcratic party fall prey to the economic royalists of the "Hamilton Project" or will the party get the message the people sent last month and adopt the policy stances of the new ecnomomic populists of the "Shared Prosperity" group?  This is the fight for 2008.


I want to ask you all a favor.

I'd  like for Kossacks to write a note explaining they'd like Labor leaders to be included in the seminar on Wednesday.

The form is here.

Pelosi can also be reached at her Congressional email:

Maybe we can make Pelosi change her mind about the importance of labor.

Tags: Economic populism, Hamilton Project, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Nancy Pelosi, Robert Rubin, Shared Prosperity (all tags)



Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

Crossposted from Daily Kos.

The trolling from some hill staffer there is irritating, and the full on counter assault from anti-labor crowd bothers me.  I don't think that the blogospehere is anti-labor but when you have 4-5 anti labor people there trying to silence anyone has questions why Pelosi would do this is reflects badly on us.

I want my party to stand for something damn it, and this sort of blantant anti-unionism isn't what I expect from the Democratic party.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-12-03 10:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

The hill staffer is hardly a troll. He's simply pointing out flaws in your diary. As for the anti-unionism, I just don't see it. Plus, as others have noted, this is a seminar about the deficit, NOT a debate.

by elessar 2006-12-04 03:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

There is some credence to the notion that their should be another session where labor can counter the points Rubin makes.  I will note that the topics Rubin is are the federal budget and fiscal responsibility in regards to tax and spending policy.  It is not economic policy as a whole.

However, this diary makes it seem like Pelosi and labor are off to a bad start.  This is not the case.  They are working well together and will be participating in the series in January.  This is from Tula at the AFL-CIO in your dkos diary.

The AFL-CIO did ask to be included and we were assured we would be invited January as they expand the discussion. The invite to Rubin is a longstanding one.

We are all playing well together.

In January, we will roll out a new group to focus on bread and butter issues supported by working families backed by loads of economists.

The incoming members of the House are the most supportive of working family and union issues we've had in years, and we in the union movement are looking forward to working with them.

by juls 2006-12-04 09:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep


Do we know if it was an AFL-CIO union?

Because, maybe it was a CTW union that raised the objections.

What I'm not hearing is the what Greider reported was incorrect.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-12-05 06:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

No, I do not know.  That is a possibility.

by juls 2006-12-05 06:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep


I think that the biggest thing about all this is the unwillingness to put Pelosi under the spotlight for what was a poor decision if not a deliberate slant.  If we don't hold our leaders accountable, it will be the same old same old.

I'm not a relexive Democrat, I support Democrats beause I support a set of principles that includes challenging the dominance of moneyed interests.  

In 2004 I watched people  rip Dick Gephardt apart because he was given false evidence and didn't do more to stop the march to war.  The war was wrong, but I'm sorry Gephart's longstanding record of supporting labot means that his transgression on the War should be forgiven.

It's a matter of priorities, and this news about the Pelosi meeting makes me ask where those  priorities are at.

I look at Pelosi and I see a woman who has a checkered record on trade deals and labor in general.  Sherrod Brown lead the fight against CAFTA, I don't think Pelosi's position on that was reflective of her deeper convictions, just her resignation to the fact that she couldn't be seen to vote for a free trade deal.

I see the future of the party in Sherrod Brown, Jim Webb, and in Jon Tester.  These are real populists not puppets.  But if they try to break the strings that a large part of the blogosphere has tied on them I think that they they will be turned on as well.

Populism isn't only about image, it's about having a real economic message.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-12-05 08:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

Don't forget Bernie Sanders. He's a true populist.

He, Brown, and Kennedy on the HELP committee in the senate are going to make one helluva juggernaut on labor issues.

by adamterando 2006-12-05 04:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

I can't wait to seen Bernie Sanders speak on the Senate floor, if his speaking is anthing like his writing if should be something to watch.  Here's a man who's stood strong on trade and labor issues since the 1990s.  He's an undiluted FDR Demmocrat, which is what I think that we need.

The thing I fear with people like Kennedy isn't that they aren't going to recognize the problems we face, but that they're going to offer academic responses to real world problems.  Which is a large part of what's wrong with the types of policies promoted by Rubin et al.  They don't work in the real world, even though the theory looks great on paper.

And Kennedy is a given for the minimum wage vote, but on other issues that are important to people in states that have industry dependent economies I'm not sure he's going to offer up real world solutions.  I'm afraid he'll want to fix problems after they happen, which is the Rubin approach to trade.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-12-05 07:23PM | 0 recs
Sounds more like Rubin giving talk, not a debate

and that's a different story.

If Rubin is going to do a seminar on trade, that's a good guy, great track record.

He's not there to debate someone with different views but to present primer on trade.

Saying labor was banned from talking to representatives is a misleading if it was just a case of them not being able to turn Rubin's talk into a debate.

I'm sure labor had their own presentation and Rubin was not there to debate them.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-03 10:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Sounds more like Rubin giving talk, not a deba

Labor has no seperate meeting.

There were two seperate seminars.

One with Rubin on his own.

And another with 5 differing experts on Iraq.

Labor asked to be allowed to participate but was refused.  The Iraq seminar is set up to be a debate.

The Rubin seminar is set up to be indoctrination, and this occurs in the wider context I have identified.  This is a slant against Labor.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-12-03 11:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Sounds more like Rubin giving talk, not a deba

So you misrepresented it and it was Rubin giving a seminar about trade, not some kind of open forum to debate the issue.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-04 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor

If the incoming Speaker is trying to avoid a party split, this is not the way to go about it.  Both sets of ideas need to be aired fully and fairly.  To be fair, Rubin's credentials on fiscal responsibility are without equal, and Democrats MUST address the fiscal deficit.  It is no less important than other deficits.  That said, it seems to me that we would have an easier time balancing our budget if we could close the trade deficit, thus improving job and wage growth, and thusly, improving tax recepits.  This is where Rubin is, IMHO, totally wrong.  How can we continue this 'free trade' nonsense when it demonstrably leads to increased trade deficits, and all the bad effects of said deficits?

by CLLGADEM 2006-12-04 12:49AM | 0 recs
Labor shd sponsor a seminar on its own

Labor shd hold a seminar and invite the freshman.  I dont think it shd be on Rubin's meeting because it is a specific topic.

by jasmine 2006-12-04 03:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting

I read the note and it sounds to me like the topic of the meeting is the federal budget and fiscal responsibility not free trade. They are very different topics and just because someone may ask a question about another topic doesn't mean you need to invite the world.  If I am right and it is fiscal responsibility and the federal budget, I don't see why you would include labor.  This is not a topic they have much expertise in or have weighed in on much over the years.  You might want a policy shop like Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in that discussion but not labor.

Regardless of Rubin's views on trade, he has a tremendously strong track record on fiscal responsibility and that is something we need to get back to if we are ever going to move a successful progressive agenda.  We can't borrow forever to finance our priorities.

Also, you make it seem like freshman members of Congress are a bunch idiots who will be totally programmed by one session with Robert Rubin.  Most of them have already staked out positions on trade which are pretty close to labor's so I really doubt that not having them in this particular meeting is going to make a huge difference.  I'd be shocked if Pelosi does not plan to have labor come in and talk about its priorities at another session.  They are too important a part of the Dem coalition to be completed excluded.

by John Mills 2006-12-04 03:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting

Some things may be overblown in the diary but there are two things that bother me about this talk.

1. Are we that naive to believe that Rubin isn't going to talk about the Hamilton Project at this meeting? His and the DLC's and Clintonites current pet economic project to try to clean up some of the mess they made with their trade and free-market policies in the 90s?

2. Many of the new Democrats got elected in large part BECAUSE of their stance on trade and jobs. So why wouldn't Pelosi have a session with labor, or even better, have a session with Rubin talking about the Hamilton Project but at the same time have the guys at the Economic Policy Institute talk about their project (I wish they were calling it the Aaron Burr Project)?

Democrats make a HUGE mistake if they leave behind labor and working people again like they did in '94. People forget that a large reason why we lost then was because union members stayed home on election day after Clinton pushed through NAFTA. They didn't vote republican, they just didn't vote.

There is a huge pool of disenfranchised workers out there with little hope of a better life. And they do NOT see government working for them. So, they instead have gotten used to voting for God Guns and Gays. We have a chance to get these voters back and revive the New Deal coalition. But only if we actually do things that show we give a damn about people and not just about Wall Street.

That's why Pelosi's move is so frustrating. It may be fine to have Rubin give a solo talk about fiscal responsibility. But it's just plain dumb to not have another policy talk about the current economic debate within the Democratic Party.

by adamterando 2006-12-04 04:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting

"But it's just plain dumb to not have another policy talk about the current economic debate within the Democratic Party."

Is it clear that there isn't going to be another talk by labor on this issue or is labor just mad that they weren't invited to this particular one?  If Pelosi is not having a talk with labor, then she is making a mistake.  

However, if she invited Rubin to talk about the budget and plans to have other sessions including labor, then this is fine.  The exchange of ideas, even if not everyone agrees, is a good thing.

by John Mills 2006-12-04 05:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting

"Is it clear that there isn't going to be another talk by labor on this issue or is labor just mad that they weren't invited to this particular one?"

It's not clear in that I haven't heard a statement that she definately is NOT going to have another talk. However, I also have not heard a peep about her HAVING a talk on the economy and/or labor. So that makes me think she won't. She was certainly anxious to let everyone know about the Rubni talk. The hotline blog had it up very soon after she released the statement. So that leads me to one of two conclusions.

1. She is not going to have another talk because she hasn't announced one.

2. If she is, she doesn't want anyone to know about it since it hasn't been publicized, in which case, this would be a sad statement if Democrats felt they had to hide the fact that they were talking about unabashadly progressive ideas to make this country (and this world) a better place.

But I'd take #2 over #1. But I'm pretty sure #1 is the correct one.

by adamterando 2006-12-04 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

The Rolling Stone piece quotes only 'Some labor leaders'. That's weak reporting - if this is so controversial then why aren't these labor leaders going on the record?

The critical quotes from Labor leaders about Robert Rubin are from another matter. It's misleading to present as somehow related to these educational Caucus meetings.

I also take issue with the idea that Labor was banned from the meeting. It's a scheduled meeting on one topic with one view, Rubin's. If you want to get a hearing of  Labors ideas within that meeting contact a member who is a big supporter of labor and ask them to bring up those questions within the meeting.

I think this diary seeks to create controversy more than advance any agenda of Labor. Here's what the AFL-CIO economist said in part of the Bloomberg piece you don't excerpt:

While Trumka, Sloan and others are critical of Rubin's remedies, they give him and others at the Hamilton Project credit for at least thinking about the need for a new direction.

"It's commendable they observe this problem of the struggle of people trying to make a living and the stagnation of wages and growing inequality," said Ron Blackwell, chief economist for the AFL-CIO, who also attended this month's meeting with Rubin. "But the policies they are proposing aren't proportional to the problems."

Commendable but not proportional. That's hardly the schism you present. I find this story much ado about nothing and I support Labor.

I'd rather build a stronger Democratic Party by asking somebody like Rep. Tim Ryan or Louise Slaughter to bring up the concerns of unions within the meeting as planned, a meeting your characterize as orientation for freshmen but is in fact open to all Democratic Caucus members.

Instead your first move is to slam Pelosi.

That's less than honorable internal politicking if you ask me.

mostly cross posted my comment from dKos

by joejoejoe 2006-12-04 04:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

While I understand the opinion that this is overblown, I have to concur with joejoejoe. Rubin's solo act does nothing but help maintain the status quo. "Free" trade may not be the topic du jour, but that only makes me more suspicious that there may be no attempt to address it in the future.

The Dems must address the screwing of the middle class if it hopes to maintain viability as a counter to the Republicans. It isn't all about gay marriage and abortion; the Republicans are every bit as wrong about economic issues.

by Spiffarino 2006-12-04 05:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep mistake. I was actually referring to weatherunderground's post.

by Spiffarino 2006-12-04 05:12AM | 0 recs
Wow! And folks think *I* get on Nancy's case!

Two things.

The best thing for the Dems right now is to have loadsa meetings with loadsa relevant parties. I'd be waiting for a pattern to emerge before asserting that any group had been sidelined from the process.

However - trade is a key issue for the 110th: fast track runs out in June 2007. And Pelosi says - what?

(No crisis - just a question.)

And the Dems covered themselves with something other than glory when the Vietnam trade bill came up before the Thanksgiving recess.

Let's recognize that the Dems have a tricky row to hoe here - free trade is obviously a misnomer, but protectionist is a label to avoid.

I'd give Pelosi some leeway on the trade issue. For the moment.

by skeptic06 2006-12-04 05:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow! And folks think *I* get on Nancy's case!

I have to agree, and I'd like to point out that I'd like to see some understanding demonstrated on the part of official labor leaders that they understand that protectionism will hurt them as well as exploitative free trade. I have not seen this so if there is such an expression if someone could point me to it, I'd appreciate it.

Free trade is the future, there is no other progressive option, but it needs to be fair and it needs to be equitable and it needs to be expanded compassionately.

by MNPundit 2006-12-04 05:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow! And folks think *I* get on Nancy's case!

Good point.  My wife works for a company that is export related - 60% of their sales occur abroad but they manufacture the goods here.

I am all for ways to make trade agreements more equitable and that protect jobs in the US.  However, there are plenty of people that work for companies that depend on sales abroad.  We need to figure out how to balance these two things which is not always easy.

by John Mills 2006-12-04 05:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow! And folks think *I* get on Nancy's case!

Exactly. Arbitrary protection from having to compete, for certain politically powerful import-cpmpeting industries only raises prices for consumers & drives import-dependent industries out of business or overseas. Look what's happened to our domestic candy making industry (now overseas mostly) thanks to the domestic sugar cartel.

by DRR7979 2006-12-04 05:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow! And folks think *I* get on Nancy's case!

Your wife is, by far, in the minority in this respect, given that our trade deficit is about $50-60 billion a month

by Alex Urevick 2006-12-04 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow! And folks think *I* get on Nancy's case!

Exports are not a majority but are approximately $100 billion a month or $1.2 billion per year so they are a significant part of the economy.  

My point is you need trade policies that both take into account the loss of jobs from imports but don't damage those parts of that are having success exporting goods.  I am not a trade expert but I would imagine it is possible to do both.

by John Mills 2006-12-04 09:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow! And folks think *I* get on Nancy's case!

Meant to say $1.2 trillion per year

by John Mills 2006-12-04 09:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

A couple of points to clear up misconceptions & falsehoods

1. Like the article said, all Bob Rubin is going to talk to them about are fiscal policy issues. Not other economic or trade issues.

2. Even if by some chance he broke decorum and started "preaching" his "Free Trade Values", you act as if the Democratic congressmen are wilting, psychologically vulnerable sailors in danger of being seduced by his siren's song. Last I checked, all the Democratic congresscritters, including the freshmen, are all grown ups who already have adult opinions on these issues, many of which they campaigned on. Give them credit. This is hardly "indoctrination."

3. Robert Rubin is not a "free trade fanatic". Robert Rubin & many (but not all) of the economists in the Hamilton Project are in favor of open trade but they are hardly fanatics about it. Any perusing of the Hamilton Project's statements on open trade (modest support) or even just reading Rubin's interview with Greider in the nation will give a clearer picture of his, and their views on trade. If you're looking for "Free Trade Fanatics" look at Cafe Hayek or the Adam Smith institute.

4. "The Hamilton Project" was formed first. And has been in existence for upwards of 2 years.

5. Last I checked, the policies of Rubin, Sperling, Stiglitz, Orszag, DeLong, et al. Were pretty smart & had a decent track record in the 90's. And it isn't like the new crew plans to follow that path verbatim; prescriptions change as circumstances do. But they could hardly be characterized as "failed."

6. As was mentioned, the principal divide is over Trade. The Hamilton camp being pro trade, their antagonists being anti. On a broad swath of issues from universal healthcare, to beefed up unemployemnt insurance, to raising the minimum wage & expanding the EITC, to strengthening the Family Medical leave act & government funded vacation; the camps are more in lines.

7. "Wall Street Backed" is a cheap smear demonstrating a destitute argument. The types of policies the Hamitlon Project is recommended are no different from, & have been endorsed by many in our progressive economic blogosphere; from Brad DeLong, Mark Thoma, Angry Bear, Kash @ The Street Light, Stirling Newberry & even Bob Reich. Are they all tools of wall street too? Instead of smears, why don't you engage their arguments on their merits.

8. The assessment by Steven Ratner of the opposition is not inaccurate or is it especially infammatory. I don't see the AFL-CIO types disagreeing with that assessment. Moreso even if it were, are we playing by some kind of rules whereby they can be cheap shotted & smeared but not hit back?

9. The work organized labor did certainly helped. But It's false to claim that the Democrats wouldn't have won without the 40 million from organized labor. That's like claiming they wouldn't have won without the big millions from Rahm Emanuel's big donors. Organized Labor would certainly like to have that meme spread. That's why they do these things, so they can steer the agenda. Moreover, the 40 million they contributed this cycle was less than the 53 million they contreibuted in 2004 & less than half of what they contributed in 2002 & 2000. In fact, it's the least they've done for the party since the 80's, yet somehow less productivity correlates to more control over policy.

10. Lastly but not least, the fact that you are pilloring Nancy Pelosi, who has always been a friend to organized labor, should demonstrate that maybe this issues is more nuanced & not to dichtonomous as you pretend it to be. If Nancy Pelosi is supposed to be anti-labor, then all that tells me is this crowd antagonizing her is more concerned about it's sectional interests than the public good.

by DRR7979 2006-12-04 05:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

By "Hamilton Project" you really mean "Hitler Project" -- right?

by blues 2006-12-04 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

Hey KB:

I covered the Hamilton Project pretty extensively, here, and at other blogs. Maybe if you had looked up "Hamilton Project" here:

--- and found this:

# Christian Right (3)
# NM-Gov (3)
# Center For American Progress (3)
# Hamilton Project (3)
# New Yorker (3)
# Filling the Amendment Tree (3)
# Senate Rules (3)
# VoteVets (3)[...]

You would be able to know what I was talking about, and not give me that "1".

This was a diary entry I made on Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 -- It should explain a few things. (I do not abuse the ratings system -- though evidently many have done that here. I work at the description and not the prescription end of linguistics, so I don't worry so much about spelling.)

Hamilton Project - The Empire Strikes Back

You should know that there is now definitive information to the effect that what are being called the "corporate forces within the Democratic Party," or "Wall Street Democrats" are organizing a project to neutralize the party's grassroots movement. They call their putsch "the Hamilton Project." This is probably not "only a test," folks.

This information has appeared at Sirotablog HERE, AT WORKING FOR CHANGE, and at TODAY'S SIROTABLOG 4/9/06.

by blues 2006-12-05 05:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

Try Googling "Godwin's law".

Maybe if your one-line reply had been as chunky as this prickly defense you've just written, it wouldn't have been rated a 1.

Don't be so touchy. When you add value, your ratings won't include '1's. You made a stupid entry and got the rating you deserved.

by KB 2006-12-05 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

Someone told me that the woolly-headed professor who invented the idiotic "Godwin's law" went on to become a junkie, and died in a stinking brothel. I had mistakenly assumed that people would have been hip to the machinations of this slimy 'Hamilton Project' after all these months.

And I try very hard to deal with misunderstandings without giving out "1s". It's infinitely more informative all the way around.

by blues 2006-12-05 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

An update; from a poster at DKos, reposted

"1. This isn't an orientation session for Freshmen - its part of an ongoing series of caucus meetings for all Members of Congress with leading thinkers on issues. For example, there's also one this week with military leaders on Iraq.

 2. Labor wasn't banned from this session. It's for Members of Congress only and a special guest. To be banned implies that its open to people other than members of Congress. According to that logic, everyone who's not Bob Rubin is "banned." A better title would be "Pelosi Invites Rubin, not Labor, to Discuss Fiscal Responsibility."

 3. Whatever you think of his trade policy, Rubin knows how to make the case for fiscal responsibility, which is the subject of his talk.

 4. Labor has a friend in Nancy Pelosi, whose top lieutenant - George Miller, the author of the Employee Free Choice Act - is going to chair the Education and Labor Committee.

 5. Why are we assuming the worst about Democratic leaders before she's even said one word opposing a pro-working family agenda?"

Another writes

"Do I have to remind everyone here that it was Nancy Pelosi who ably lead the tooth-and-nail fight against CAFTA just less than a year and a half ago?  Here, read Pelosi's statement on the House floor on CAFTA.  She garnered 217 votes against it, that's more than there were then Democrats in the House.  Pelosi has made it very very clear that when she is in charge, agreements like CAFTA will likely not pass.  So yes, while we can disagree with her decision here, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.  Yes, she voted for NAFTA, but she's obviously not an all-out free-trade ga ga.

I think what she should do is schedule a separate seminar altogether on Labor issues.  I am going to write her to do exactly that.  But she feels that this particular seminar is about fiscal sanity and a balanced budget.  Anyone familiar with the terminologies understand that fiscal policy and economic policy, which intertwined, are not one and the same.  Fiscal policy focuses on how Congress spends money, interest rates on federal loans, issuance of federal bonds, etc.  Economic policy focuses on trade deals, regulations of labor and other markets, minimum wage, tax policy (including reductions and increases in taxes, tax incentives, etc.) and so on."

So, in other words. Chill.  

by DRR7979 2006-12-04 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

Right but the question is one of priorities. It would seem to me that Pelosi is trying to signal that the two most important priorities in the Democratic Congress are related to the two talks she wants all members to attend, i.e. fiscal policy and Iraq.

This is what strikes a nerve. We have an American city that is still the poster-child for a post-apocalyptic world, stagnant wages, and a giant sucking sound that is China taking all of our good paying middle class jobs in manufactoring that are being replaced with low-wage low-benefit jobs at the Home Depot. So the question is, why ISN'T the economy one of the talks she wants all members to attend?

Perhaps you could argue that members come in not knowing much about fiscal policy and t-bills and all that jazz. Fine. Great. Bob Rubin is a smart cookie and I'm sure they'd learn a lot. But given the deteiorating status of the middle class in this country, why wouldn't she also have these guys attend a session with the Hamilton Group and the EPI so people can see competing and cooperative proposals that are being put forth by the Democratic intelligenstia?

It just sends the message that interest rates and budget rules are more important than people that are hurting. I hope I'm wrong. But I still have not heard of any other seminars Pelosi would like people to attend.

by adamterando 2006-12-04 06:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Labor from Meeting w/ Freshman Rep

Federal fiscal policy is important and has a major impact on people's lives even though they don't see it on a day to day basis because Treasury bonds are used as the bench mark for mortgage rates.  For the average American, a 1% drop in mortgage rates is worth more than any tax cut and 1% increase in mortgage rates hurts more than any tax increase.

I am all for a seminar on labor and economic issues.  They are hugely important and we need to address them.  I encourage Pelosi to have one or more.

However, fiscal policy is a top 5 issue.  The Bush Admin has been borrowing like a bunch of drunken sailors and at some point we will have to pay the bill which will impact the price of T-bills which will impact mortgage rates which will impact American families.  This isn't some esoteric economics lecture - it has real life impact.

by John Mills 2006-12-04 06:43AM | 0 recs
Opening Gestures

The scope of ones opening gestures can overshadow the significance of ones subsequent deeds. If you open with grand gestures, you will soon underwhelm your constituency with all the mundane acts that must ensue. But if you open with petty gestures, you may never gain the leverage to carry out the mundane acts that must ensue.

by blues 2006-12-04 02:31PM | 0 recs
And You Wonder Why We Don't Support D's 100%?

Too often Dems have smiled at organized labor with their hands out during campaign season, but when it comes time to vote for our issues we end up talking to the hand -- or geting the back of it. We have plenty of reasons to be cynical -- deregulation of the trucking industry under Carter, NAFTA under Clinton (Rubin). Maybe this is an over reaction, but inaction speaks louder than words.

by Teamsters 2006-12-04 04:45PM | 0 recs
You should

Because if you don't, you get a party (republicans) who's leadership and control will screw you at every turn.

I am a member of organized labor - as such I receive election mailings indicating labor endorsements - every time I've received one I've gone ballistic over the shortsightedness of some of the endorsements.

In 2004 I received a labor mailing endorsing the republican candidate for state senator, ostensibly because he promoted prevailing wages for a public construction project in his home county. The Democratic party candidate was a good guy on labor, but he was locked out of all labor endorsements and support. Now, this republican state senator votes for the republican leadership and supports a republican governor - royally screwing labor.

In 2006 I received a labor mailing endorsing the republican incumbent for state legislature. This individual, when asked about our organizing drive by the press responded, "I don't believe public employees should be able to strike." In a meeting with the state political director of my union I asked him specifically about that endorsement. He hemmed and hawwed - all I got was, "well, sometimes he votes our issues." Nevermind that his Democratic challenger would more than "sometimes" do the same - and wouldn't be voting for and with leadership which screwed labor at every turn.

At a state Democratic Party committee meeting (yeah, there are a lot of labor people on the state committee - would you hazard a guess about how many are on the republican state committee?) in 2004, after the first endorsement (I related above) came out, the state senate campaign chair pointed out, "you can say that this individual may be supportive of labor, but let me remind you, we've always been there for labor." She got a standing ovation from the members of the committee - with, you guessed it, impressive labor representation.

Actions do speak louder than words. Is the Democratic Party 100% behind labor? No. But I can assure you, in this winner take all two party system, the Democratic Party support for labor is a hell of a lot more than the republican party's (and their agenda).  

by Michael Bersin 2006-12-05 02:08AM | 0 recs
Re: You should

Unquestionably, the Dems do support labor more than the GOP, which is why, on average, more than 80 percent of our money and our endorsements go to Democrats.

But, as our director of gov. affairs put it:

Teamsters are not afraid to stand up to Democrats or Republicans and say: "Hey, if you don't support my issues then I'm going to give my support to someone else." That gets their attention and gives us tremendous credibility as a union.

The bottom line is we are an American labor union that represents American workers. We are on Capitol Hill, in state legislatures and campaigning for the rights of our members, not for the Democratic Party. Teamsters are in small towns and big cities. We work in a broad cross-section of our economy. And, like America, we are evenly split politically among Democrats, Republicans and Independents. To unconditionally align ourselves with one party would be a disservice to our members and the labor movement as a whole.

If the Dems see us as just another fundraising mechanism they would take us for granted. If we offer the carrot, we also have to have a stick. And we have to be willing to use it if they fail to represent us. Workplace, family, middle-class issues played a big role in getting them elected. If they now decide to embrace Rubinomics and turn their backs on fair trade policies that protect American jobs, then it would be a disservice to our members to support them again in two years.

Now then, like I said, I am withholding judgement on this particular freshman discussion. It could very well be that all they want to talk about is balancing the budget. Besides, I was listening to a podcast of the Dec. 2 Workin' It radio show this morning and Stewart Acuff of the AFL-CIO was saying that Pelosi, Kennedy and other Dem leaders would be speaking at a rally on the Employee Free Choice Act Friday. Passing this legislation will be the true test. If Nancy can get this bill passed she could invite Rubin over to lunch any time she wants.

by Teamsters 2006-12-05 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: You should

...If we offer the carrot, we also have to have a stick. And we have to be willing to use it if they fail to represent us...

Here's how you wield the stick: primary challenge. The republicans are going to fail to represent labor - I guarantee it.

It then comes down to the Democratic primary. If there's a problem with a Democratic incumbent and labor issues then we need to promote and work to elect a sympathetic challenger. I'll be there with you at the phone bank, stuffing envelopes, and knocking on doors.

In the present environment punishing a Democratic representative/office holder by giving support or aid and comfort to republicans is the political equivalent of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

by Michael Bersin 2006-12-05 05:55AM | 0 recs
Re: You should

Mathis said,

"The bottom line is we are an American labor union that represents American workers. We are on Capitol Hill, in state legislatures and campaigning for the rights of our members, not for the Democratic Party."

Ok. But I think this is what ultimately killed labor (or has at least caused massive hemmoraging). I don't want labor to cow-tow to the Democratic party and become their piggy-bank. I want labor (Teamsters definately included) to BE the Democratic Party. I want the Democratic Party to be transformed into a Labor Party. I want it to be transformed into a social democratic pary.

I don't want labor to lobby the Democratic Party for their workers. I want the Democratic Party to have a manifesto that is WRITTEN by labor.

THAT is a progressive movement. Then, labor will cease to be just another special interest that wants attention and uses threats of supporting the republicans as its only chip to use.

The quote above shows a lack of vision. It's about the status quo. About only looking out for "our members". Well if labor doesn't work for the greater progressive movement (and that's worldwide, not just in this country) then I see nothing but the same slow decimation of workers lives in this country.

Don't bargain with the party. BECOME the party.  

by adamterando 2006-12-05 04:48PM | 0 recs
Re: And You Wonder Why We Don't Support D's 100%?


I've found the response at Daily Kos telling.

I tried to intitiate a discussion about the dangers of Rubinomics, and I had my personal intelligence and integrtity attacked because I posted information that had been published in a number of media sources. This is the reason that you don't find the labor rank and file at Kos, they're not going to paricipate in a community that wants them to fund the elections and provide the footlabor, and then shut up once the election is over.  Every time someone tries to post on these issues the takedown happens, telling them that the only reason they have a problem with trade and the type of economic policies that Rubin  pushes are because they are ignorant and undeducated.

The troubles of working people are taken as a sign of their moral failing.  Not a bit of solidarity is allowed to slip through.  

I took Pelosi to ask for excluding a voice from the EPI from the discussion, and in return I was shouted down by a minority that has no problem with an economic doctrine that asks working people to spend their whole lives at a job, then fires them a year out from retirement, then takes away their pension through a faux bankruptcy case.

I don't want to participate in that kind of community.

I take heart in the post by the teamsters and the steelworkers here, and I'm just going to try to continue raising the issues I already have here and elsewhere.  Just not on Kos, because the response to what I felt were very reasonable concerns was telling, and Kos's implicit backing of it (putting the counterdiary to mine on the front page) makes me question whether he understands that Labor and working people don't exist only to get Democrats elected.

They get Democrats elected, because Democrats are supposed to be the ones who will fight these neo-liberal economic theories that have been shown to hurt working people.

I was in the middle of a series detailing electoral statistics of the seats that Democrats won.  Time and again, opposition to Repulicans promoting the type of economic policies that bear considerable similiarity to Rubin's was a factor.

If all that this election gets us is Robert Rubin  promoting polices that favor Wall Street instead of some Republican what diffence does it make whether Democrats are in power or not.

I have a serious proble that Melissa Bean  was given a pass on her CAFTA vote, and that Pelosi's poor track record on free trade agreements prior to CAFTA is being ignored.  I like Tester, Sherrod Brown, and Webb, and I think that they will raise   trade issues.  

But I still haven't heard anyone challenge the truthfullness of the claim that Greider wrote in the Nation that Pelosi refused Labor a seat on the stage with Rubin.  And I have a problem that I was called a liar for posting something that was published in the Nation and hasn't been challenged on a factual basis.  We have to raise these issues, because if we don't we'll get the same failed policies from the Democratic Congress that Bush and Hastert gave us before.

The 2007 vote on Fast Track Renewal should be telling.  And there's still this plan out there with a group of business interests trying to build a port at Lazaro Cardenas, then truck Chinese made goods with Mexican drivers to destroy unions on the waterfront and on the road.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-12-05 05:19AM | 0 recs
Re: And You Wonder Why We Don't Support D's 100%?

ManfromMiddletown said:

I take heart in the post by the teamsters and the steelworkers here, and I'm just going to try to continue raising the issues I already have here and elsewhere.  Just not on Kos, because the response to what I felt were very reasonable concerns was telling, and Kos's implicit backing of it (putting the counterdiary to mine on the front page) makes me question whether he understands that Labor and working people don't exist only to get Democrats elected.

This is disturbing. Now that these critters are in office, they will begin to get criticism. That's pretty natural. I can't for the life of me understand why Markos would do this. This is not exactly what I would call a strategy.

by blues 2006-12-05 06:12AM | 0 recs
I don't want this to be about

what happened there.  It's not fair to Chris Bowers, and Stoller and the rest here (who've all been highly supportive of Labor, Bower's Solid Whatever post is a classic and an important read.)

I'm frustrated by what's happened, and I am taking a break from Kos now.  But I just want to move on from this now.  We need to continue raising these issues.  And I think that this will be the place where I raise those issues from now on.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-12-05 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't want this to be about

My advice is to permanently take a break from Kos. I have for the last year and I've been much better off because of it.

by adamterando 2006-12-05 04:42PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't want this to be about

I know.  I think that the pace and nature of the place leads people to be far less deliberative.  You have to make things very blunt to get attention on Kos, which is what I did.  In all likelihood if I had poste a diary with the title Pelosi holds meeting with Rubin, it would have floated into the ether.

And ultimately I think that the size of the place is going to overwhelm any value from it.  And I think that Kos is treating it like his fiefdom.  I understand he owns the site infrastructure, but the reason people come there is for the community.  And when things happen like yesterday, that community is killed in the name of forced conformity.

I want to continue writing, just not there.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-12-05 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Puppies, Sunshine, and Lollipops

Oh good, let's throw Pelosi under the bus for scheduling a deficit seminar for freshmen. We've got the circular firing squad going before Congress has even STARTED! Is that a new record? I'm sorry, but I'm willing to have faith in Speaker Pelosi at least long enough for the Democrats to actually pass a bill.

by X Stryker 2006-12-05 05:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Bans Puppies, Sunshine, and Lollipops

It's a question of priorities.

And this give a signal of those priorities, that Rubin and the Hamilton Group are going to given priority the populists in the party.

There were two sessions planned, one a

a presentation on the economy by former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin on the need for restoring fiscal discipline and building a competitive economy to create jobs in America.

The other:

presentation on Iraq. Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and Major General John Batiste will be among the presenters.

Why does the Iraq presentation have speakers from multiple points of view, while the "presentation on the economy" has only one very divisive speaker representing a decidely unpopulist view on the economy?  

It creates the false impression of unanamity around economic policies that are harmful to working people.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-12-05 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi does not owe anyone an explanation for inviting a former Democratic Treasury Secretary as the only guest speaker before the caucus.  I think there are many other topics that could use the energy of the progressive movement -- this is not one of them.

by chadconfetti 2006-12-05 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi

I think that without populist leadership on this issue there is no progressive movement.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-12-05 11:53AM | 0 recs


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