Every time I see yet another story like this one I keep asking myself the same question: why isn’t Liz Warren running for president? I mean, if she’s willing to basically go on the attack against Hillary Clinton (not to mention Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) more so than anyone who is actually running for office, why not do it? She’s losing friends fast among the Democrat elite in Washington and gaining a following among the base that should be the envy of anyone else in her party. And if she’s that unhappy with the direction the Democrats are taking, wouldn’t a true leader step up to the plate and try to directly steer them down a different path?
The story this week, showing up at the Washington Post, is back to the trade issue. The press has largely allowed Hillary the space to give half answers or no answer on the trade question, hedging her bets with all sort of caveats so that she can come down on whichever side of the question polls better when all is said and done. Not so Elizabeth Warren. She has specific complaints about trade deals and is willing to call out numerous presidents for catering to big business and forgetting about the little people.
For example, anyone who wishes to enforce rules that impose labor or environmental standards must plead with our government to bring a claim on their behalf. Reports from the Government Accountability Office, the Labor Department, and the State Department have shown that the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations have rarely brought such claims, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of violations. Without strong enforcement, promises that American workers won’t have to compete against 50-cent-an-hour foreign laborers or promises that countries with terrible environmental records will raise their standards are meaningless.
But multinational corporations don’t have to plead with the government to enforce their claims. Instead, modern trade deals give corporations the right to go straight to an arbitration panel when a country passes new laws or applies existing laws in ways that the corporations believe will cost them money. Known as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), these international arbitration panels can force countries to pony up billions of dollars in compensation. And these awards stick: No matter how crazy or outrageous the decision, no appeals are permitted. Once the arbitration panel rules, taxpayers must pay.
Being one of the rare folks in this corner of the political web who is rather suspicious of trade deals to begin with, I don’t mind seeing some questions raised on the subject. At the same time, the concerns expressed by Warren are pretty far down the list of any complaints I might have. Still, it’s interesting that Warren is willing to not only call out Bush (!) but Obama and Bill Clinton as well. Given the rather high pitched nature of her rhetoric, this sounds far more like something Warren is legitimately concerned about than any sort of political positioning or grandstanding. And whether you buy into it or not, that’s a sharp and effective way to establish your liberal bona fides and swell the populist ranks supporting you.
Warren also remains largely scandal free in the eyes of the Left. (I doubt any of them care about her bogus claims of minority status as long as she’s singing the correct policy tunes.) If Bernie Sanders, of all people, can actually make inroads against Hillary in the polling game, doesn’t that signal enough weakness to tempt Warren toward a late entry into the race?
Here’s the point where I need to pause and catch my breath. I know what happens whenever I read stories like this and it’s simply not in the realm of reality. Yes… I would love to see Warren be the Democrats’ nominee almost as much as my first choice of Sanders. I’m fairly sure that any of the currently declared GOP candidates could beat either one of them in a walk once the Republican oppo research teams got done with them in the general election. Heck, we could probably beat either of them with David Duke on the ballot. Sadly, it’s not to be. But every time Warren pops her head up like this it’s one more headache for Team Hillary to deal with, so here’s to a long, loud non-campaign for Elizabeth Warren.