Sixty-six U.S. senators - including 25 Democrats - have recently caved in to big corporate lobbyists to sell out hundreds of thousands of American workers and their families. The vote was on the issue of "Fast Track," a pernicious legislative process that hands the president autocratic authority to negotiate one-sided trade deals giving huge new powers to global corporations, and then forbids Congress from amending these deals to correct flaws.
As we have learned the hard way from North American Free Trade Association and the World Trade Organization, these trade deals are fraught with flaws, resulting in massive job losses here and abroad, gross environmental abuses, and even a loss of our people's right to make our own laws. But instead of standing with We the People, a majority of senators have cashed us in to the global corporate powers, even though their vote meant that the senators were meekly surrendering their own legislative authority (and responsibility) to the executive branch.
The saddest players were the Senate's Democratic leaders, for they pretended to be protecting us regular Janes and Joes, even while selling us out. They offered several amendments to put a little balm on the gaping wound of job losses that they admit will come from future trade deals, even while they allowed the fast-track railroad process itself to be approved. The Democrats won only one of these amendments - a provision to extend some temporary and partial health insurance to U.S. workers who'll now be fired by their globe-hopping employers as a result of fast-tracked trade deals.
Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader of the Senate, lamely shrugged and said, "I'm disappointed that we couldn't do more, but ... we've got to move on." Yeah, Tom, but unlike the families you gave up on, you'll move on with a high-paying job, plus lifetime pension and Cadillac health coverage. If the meek ever inherit the earth, the Daschle Democrats are going to be land barons.
Radio talk-show host and author Jim Hightower is a former agricultural commissioner of Texas.