Aug 16 2019


I have long inveighed against the stupidity and short sightedness of “Centrists”, particularly those who pretend to be Democrats. In particular I have named the “Third Way” think tank as particularly bone-headed and idiotic, but it turns out I may have been too charitable to what now is revealed to be basically a Koch brothers funded Trojan Horse.

The Kochs Funded Third Way to Push Free Trade to Democrats, New Book Says
by Ryan Grim and Andrew Perez, The Intercept
August 13 2019

In the fall of 2007, the tide was beginning to turn against free trade, as the ongoing hollowing out of the American middle class was becoming associated with globalization and the offshoring of jobs. Its leading public opponent was the bombastic CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, a proto-Trump whose economic nationalism curdled easily into racism and nativism. Many Democrats, too, were turning sour on free trade. Then-President George W. Bush relied on Republican votes to ram through the Central American Free Trade Agreement in 2005, but future deals were looking far from certain, particularly after Democrats seized control of Congress in the 2006 midterms.

This was a direct threat to Koch Industries, the sprawling business empire long led by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. The fossil-fuel giant’s business has long been based on importing oil from Canadian tar sands, which it refines at its massive Pine Bend plant in Minnesota — and the opposition to free trade threatened to make that business much more costly. The Kochs desperately needed help with Democrats, so they turned to a reliable partner: Third Way.

According to the new book “Kochland,” written by investigative reporter Christopher Leonard, Koch Industries secretly financed a report by Third Way, a corporate-funded think tank with ties to the centrist wing of the Democratic Party. The report, titled “Why Lou Dobbs is Winning” and published in November 2007, was written to promote the free trade agenda to liberals. The white paper explained it would be the first salvo in a yearlong effort to reshape the messaging around trade policy, warning that “a new and powerful populist strain has emerged on both the left and the right of American politics that threatens to turn the nation fearful and inward.”

While Third Way’s report did not note any funding from Koch Industries or any related companies or organizations, it did offer thanks to Rob Hall, then a lobbyist for Koch Industries’ Invista division, “for his support in helping us conceive of and design Third Way’s trade project,” adding credence to Leonard’s claim that the Kochs were behind the effort. Hall was previously a Koch executive. The report also added: “The authors offer their sincerest thanks to Third Way’s Board of Trustees for their continuing intellectual support of Third Way and in particular for providing several of the key initial insights on which this paper is built.” Third Way’s board of trustees is a who’s who of Wall Street and corporate elites.

The Third Way report was rolled out in coordination with then-Rep. Joe Crowley, a Democrat representing the Bronx and Queens, and then-Rep. Melissa Bean of Chicago. Both were leading figures in the party’s pro-business wing. “We all have to begin to speak differently about trade, how it benefits the economy and foreign policy, how it helps Americans and people abroad,” Crowley said in a 2007 Politico article.

The report, which was part of a broader push by Third Way and others to sell free trade policies to Democratic politicians, laid out a series of prescriptions to reframe the debate, and not a moment too soon. The global economic crisis that struck in 2008, which was met with austerity policies around the world, took whatever fuel there was behind the populist movement and lit it on fire.

The Obama administration embraced free trade, making the enactment of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership a cornerstone of its global trade policy that was widely opposed on the left and right. Donald Trump made opposition to free trade a central component of his campaign and rode to the White House over the objections of the Koch brothers. He immediately pulled out of the TPP negotiations and has made opposition to free trade a central component of his presidency. The leading progressive Democratic candidates for president, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both opposed the free trade agreement.

After losing a primary to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Crowley is now employed by a lobbying firm and working to pass Trump’s renegotiated NAFTA. Bean recently left JPMorgan Chase to become CEO of Mesirow Wealth Advisors.

Third Way has consistently warned against the rise of populism on the left. In 2013, the group attacked Warren, warning she would take the party off a “populist cliff.” Third Way now claims to have come to terms with Warren and contends there’s a greater threat from Sanders’ brand of democratic socialism.

So, evil, not stupid.

There’s a deal of discussion about the merits of “Free Trade Policy” which I consider no more relevant than a Shaman’s superstitious mumblings. If you study Economics at all you know that anything with the word “Free” attached to make it more attractive is actually rather the opposite. What “Free” mostly means is “THIS IS A SCAM” in flashing neon letters (too bad HTML got rid of the ‘blink’ command).

All Trade is regulated, all Markets are regulated, the only question is qui bono?

To rail against “Populism” is to complain that the collective judgement of the majority is wrong and that your ‘less popular (by definition)’ program is the correct course of action, which is a brave and noble stand to take if backed by evidence, but mere self-serving propaganda without it.

Moreover it’s not just a Brexit thin margin. Leftist policies have enormous Super Majority support and politicians who chose to ignore that are in danger of losing their phony bologna jobs, why do you think they work so hard to disguise the fact that’s exactly what they’re doing? Good riddance you corrupt bastards.