In my post of May 22, I published a response from the White House to my concerns about the upcoming agreements of and the processes relating to the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and similar agreements with our European trading partners. In a lengthy response the White House made the following assurances relating to the ratification of the agreements.
“The new Trade Promotion Authority mandates unprecedented transparency by requiring that any trade agreement be published online for 60 days before I sign it, and Congress will then have months to review, debate, and hold hearings on the details of the agreement before they vote on it. “ (1)
Imagine my surprise to find that last Thursday the Senate moved to vote without hearings and truncated debate to authorize not only so-called ‘fast-track’ authority but the trade bill as well, all grouped together in a single vote. No hearings, no national debate. At the end of the week the House moved in similar fashion to pass the measure but was unsuccessful as a majority in the President’s own party balked at passage. A major sticking point was the provision that funds providing for re-education and training of those workers displaced by the new trade agreements were to come from cuts in Medicaid.
I find it interesting that the “new Trade promotion Authority” mandating “unprecedented transparency” should at this juncture be sequestered behind closed doors and yet unavailable to the public. And what matters if the documents are published online 60 days before the president signs it if the congress has already voted to approve it; for the horse will have long since left the barn.
The White House response, like so many responses from the governing elites, was, of course, a general response duly ‘personalized’. A ‘canned’ response to an expression of specific concerns; a form of ‘non-communication communication’. For those in government, the media advisors, the political ‘handlers’ this is seen as a way to placate the great ‘unwashed’—those not in the ‘know’. The constituent, however, is left feeling like one is on the telephone line navigating a corporate ‘menu’ and speaking with a digitalized ‘voice’. Communicating with one’s elected representatives is a bit like the citizens of Galveston and Houston fleeing from an impending hurricane calling emergency numbers for instruction on how to evacuate the city only to find that their frantic calls have been routed to New Delhi or Bangladesh from which instruction is given. It is bad enough that my Congressman is brain dead, but the ‘non-response response’ only serves to further illustrate that the rot runs deep. One is left to ponder whether the original communication though clearly received was ever read at all.
I have a beagle named “Belle”. She is a splendid companion but she will bark and bay at whatever passes, especially the postman, for she is a ‘southren’ dog and she doesn’t much cotton to anything associated with the ‘feds.’ I daily admonish her but she does not hear. I bark out her name, but she ignores me. It’s a funny thing, this beagle, for Belle can be upstairs well out of sight and mind, but if I rattle the biscuit jar she will bound down the steps to be the first in line. So, it seems, it is with our political leaders. “We the People” are of no account, unless and until we reach for the biscuits.
Ask Charlie Gladden.
(1). See the following post: “May 22, 2015: Response from the White House, Shroud of Secrecy, Deep Suspicions”