GOP 2012 Contender Roemer Decries Corruption, Free Trade

Gov. Buddy RoemerRepublican 2012 Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer brought his unique pro-growth and anti-corruption reform message to my Washington Update radio show Oct.13. Co-host Scott Draughon and I quizzed the former Louisiana governor and four-term congressman, who sharply criticized U.S. "free trade" bills with South Korea, Panama and Colombia that Congress passed this week with President Obama's encouragement. Roemer, a Harvard MBA degree-holder, called the agreements bad for the U.S. economy and workforce, and typical of special interest control of Washington.

Roemer, a Republican businessman who says he's helped create a new kind of successful community bank since leaving politics, described how he made the decision with his family to return to politics for the Presidential race "because our country is in trouble." He decided also to forego any contributions over $100 and all political action committee (PAC) donations from corporations, unions, etc.  He is the only prominent Presidential candidate from either major party to take the pledge.

It's that kind of free-swinging commentary along with his varied record that prompts me to share these comments here. After all, there are lots of candidates giving interviews. But Roemer is the only one this cycle who, for example, has been both a governor and a congressman. More important, he is pounding at many of his own party's standard positions as well as the opposition's, but isn't included in the TV debates.

Organizers of Republican TV debates have excluded him for what he describes as shifting reasons largely unknown to him. As a recent guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, he tries to find humor in the way some pollsters exclude him from their surveys. He calls that a "Catch 22" since TV debate organizers usually cite poll results to justify their debate line-ups.

Even so, he said he is committed to his reform strategy. He said he is encouraged by GOP rival Herman Cain's rise from polling 3% this summer to becoming the top GOP choice in a poll announced Oct. 13 by the Wall Street Journal. Roemer said his goal in travelling from his New Hampshire campaign headquarters to New York City this week to support the "Occupy Wall Street" protest was "to listen to, and to speak with, my fellow Americans who are fed up as I am with the corruption that is occurring before our very-own eyes." On the show, he addressed a many issues during his 30-minute interview beginning at 17 minutes past the hour. The live show is now available also worldwide by archive via the MTL (My Technology Lawyer) radio network.

"Wall Street continues to be a major player in the corrupt game of politics," Roemer said in a prepared statement about his trip. "They did not create the problem or the game. They are just making it permanent and worse. Our President and Congress like to pat themselves on the back for supposedly 'regulating' Wall Street. Yet a week later they take their money at $35,000 a plate."

"I was born," he says, "just not yesterday."

"Americans ought to unite together," he continues, "and demand an end to the corruption and greed that poisons our political and financial systems; Tea Partiers; and Occupiers; Democrats and Republicans -- for this Movement is an American movement and is not going away."

Roemer served four terms in Congress from 1981-1988 and was Louisiana’s Governor from 1988-1992. During his tenure, he enacted reforms that cut unemployment by approximately half, balanced the state budget every year, linked teachers’ pay to performance, established education accountability standards, confronted unions, and signed campaign finance reform legislation. Since leaving public office, Governor Roemer has served as CEO of Business First Bank, a business community bank that did not take bailout money from the federal government. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, Scarlett, and is the father of three children. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his MBA from Harvard Business School. The site has details. My regrets to those who sent in questions we weren't able to ask. The candidate's website has an "Ask Buddy" feature at the top of the home page, however, for the same purpose.

A compilation of Roemer's YouTube videos, including his vow to refuse PAC money, is here.The unusual features of Roemer's program were illustrated by his response to the Obama administration's jobs plan. Roemer responds as follows to President Obama’s economic plan, which was defeated Oct. 12 by the Senate. “President Obama’s jobs plan leaves America dead in the economic waters," he says. "Rather than raising the level of growth, his plan raises taxes, raises unemployment and raises the federal debt. My jobs plan calls for real tax reform that closes special interest corporate loopholes, eliminates foreign tax credits, and ends the unfair trade practices that export American jobs overseas. We must stop giving tax breaks to large corporations that are creating jobs overseas in China and start giving tax relief to small businesses that are creating jobs right here in America." David O. Stewart

This weekly public affairs radio show is syndicated nationwide on the MTL network that my cohost founded nearly a decade ago. He is a Florida-based lawyer and longtime Republican activist. We welcome callers and suggestions for other top newsmakers as guests.

Looking ahead, we have an exciting line-up of guests, as shown on the Justice Integrity Project homepage, which includes previous guests and instructions for listening. Listener advisory: Mac users must use Parallels. Upcoming guests include renowned authors David Stewart, right, a leading legal expert and historian, and John Perkins, the best-selling author of economic and environmental books.

Editor's Note: The top of this blog was updated substantially after the show to reflect the interview, which began at 17 minutes past the hour.




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GOP 2012 Campaign Coverage and Updates

Washington Post, Buddy Roemer: Let me participate in the Republican debate, Nia-Malika Henderson, Oct. 12, 2011. It's too late for Buddy Roemer to get in on tonight’s Republican debate, but he has a simple pitch for whomever is planning the next one. “I hope the sponsors and the GOP say, ‘Roemer has a degree in economics and maybe we ought to hear what he has to say about jobs in America,’’ he said. “That’s my pitch. I didn’t say I was the prettiest or the smartest or the best politician but I don’t think any of those things are going to get the country going again.”

On Tuesday’s Washington Post/Bloomberg debate, Roemer said if he were sitting at the debate table, he would talk about the need for regulatory reform and to eliminate money from politics. “If I get a chance to watch the debate, I’ll tweet,” he said “But you’ll call me one day and ask if I’m gonna be in that debate, and I’ll say yes, I’m gonna be up there. My campaign needs it.” “I haven’t been included in any of the debates. At first it was because I wasn’t registering in any of the polls, but how can I register in a poll if I’m not included in the polls,” Roemer said. “Then I averaged at 1 percent in the average of polls, and I still couldn’t get in. But I’m not fussing.”

Huffington Post, Excluded GOP Candidates Air Ads, Grievances Ahead Of Tuesday Night's Debate, Jason Linkins, Oct. 11, 2011.Two of the candidates who have been excluded from the GOP debates so far this season are doing what they can to garner some attention before Tuesday night's Bloomberg/Washington Post debate by releasing ads in support of their nearly forgotten candidacies. Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer goes for biography and populism in his ad, in which he touts his time away from politics as highly as his electoral career. He also emphasizes his refusal to take PAC money. He's insisted on taking no more than $100 from individual donors, and in his ad, he states that this decision separates him from his competitors in that it makes him "free to lead."

Meanwhile Fred Karger has cut an ad which he already unveiled at the Grafton County Republican Committee Columbus Day Dinner on Monday evening. In it, Karger manages to both protest his debate exclusion and take up the cause of LGBT rights by inserting himself in to the Fox News/Google debate, so he can respond to the booing of a gay soldier that transpired during that debate's broadcast.... Gary Johnson has been complaining about exclusion as well. While Johnson qualified for the last debate, he is once again on the outside, looking in on Tuesday night. His campaign continues to complain about the "Gary Johnson Rule."

Daily Show, Buddy Roemer, Jon Stewart, Sept. 6, 2011. Republican presidential candidate Buddy Roemer discusses institutional corruption in politics and explains why he cannot attend the Republican debate in California.

Huffington Post, New Hampshire Secretary Of State: Dec. 6 Is A 'Realistic Option' For Primary, Jason Linkins, Oct. 12, 2011.  Primary calendar watchers have been waiting to hear from New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, whose decision on when the New Hampshire primary was to be held remained, as of last week, the last few bars of a complicated dance involving the four early primary states (New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada) and the state of Florida, which encroached on the hallowed turf of the aforementioned foursome by moving its primary to Jan. 31.

Huffington Post, Homer Simpson Donates To Buddy Roemer Presidential Campaign, Michael McAuliff, Oct. 15, 2011. Homer Simpson may have tried to vote for Barack Obama in 2008, but he's apparently switched his allegiance to former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (R) for 2012, according to federal campaign records. Really. Roemer, who raised $138,000 in the third quarter on donations limited to $100 or less, listed one $25 contribution from someone who identified himself as the beer-loving cartoon character, complete with a job described as "Nuclear Safety Inspector" at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Free Trade Controversies

Associated Press, Obama, Lee to pitch trade deal in Michigan, Jim Kuhnhenn, Oct. 14, 2011. President Barack Obama and South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak are promoting a new trade deal by visiting an auto plant in Michigan, a state battered by Asian car imports, in a rare joint appearance outside of Washington by a U.S. president and a visiting head of state. In choosing General Motors Co. Orion assembly plant for a post-state dinner tour Friday, the two leaders will draw attention to an aspect of a U.S.-South Korea trade agreement that had been among the most difficult to negotiate. Congress approved the deal Wednesday after negotiators overcame U.S. auto industry complaints that previous efforts at a deal failed to do enough to lift South Korea's barriers to U.S.-made cars.  Obama is taking Lee to the heart of the region that has been hardest hit by foreign car competition, especially the influx of vehicles like South Korea's Hyundai. But for Obama, the trip is also an opportunity to highlight the auto industry's resurgence after he engineered an $80 billion government bailout for GM and Chrysler in 2009. The Orion plant, about 30 miles north of Detroit, had been shuttered before the federal government stepped in and helped usher the two carmakers through bankruptcy protection. The plant now is producing the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic and will start production of the compact Buick Verano soon.

FireDogLake, That Giant Sucking Sound, Jon Walker, Oct 13, 2011. That giant sucking sound you hear today is the sound of jobs being outsourced as President Obama signs into law three free trade deals; South Korea, Colombia and Panama. According to the Economic Policy Institute, passing the Korea Free Trade deal will likely cost this country 159,000 jobs. The three trade deals remain basically unchanged since George W. Bush negotiated them in his last term when he was unable to get them approved by the Democrats in Congress. Just like it took Nixon to go to China, it apparently takes a Democratic president to force through NAFTA-style free trade agreements that destroy American jobs.

FireDoglake, What’s a Few Dead Labor Leaders Between Friends? Colombia Free Trade, Then and Now, Jane Hamsher, Oct. 13, 2011. In 2008, the Columbia deal was a big campaign issue, with both Obama and Clinton denouncing any agreement until human rights conditions had been addressed. Obama declared he would oppose the Columbia deal “because the violence against unions in Colombia would make a mockery of the very labor protections that we have insisted be included in these kinds of agreements.” When the Wall Street Journal reported that Mark Penn had met with the Colombians to talk about helping them pass the agreement in April of 2008, there was such an uproar that Clinton was forced to fire Penn.


Justice Integrity Project Coverage of Radio Show (Same column, different reader comments)
(This column) Justice Integrity Project, GOP 2012 Contender Buddy Roemer Decries Free Trade Corruption
Distopia Warning
Paul Craig RobertsOpEd News, The Suicide of Liberty, Paul Craig Roberts, Oct. 12, 2011. Pat Buchanan's latest book, Suicide of a Superpower, raises the question whether America will survive to 2025. The question might strike some readers as unduly pessimistic and others as optimistic. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the "superpower" is over-extended financially and militarily. The Bush/Cheney/Obama regimes have shredded the constitutional protections that gave American citizens their liberty. By dictate alone, the executive branch has acquired the power, prohibited by the Constitution, to incarcerate citizens indefinitely without presenting evidence and obtaining conviction. According to the US government, a secret executive branch panel now exists that has acquired from somewhere the unaccountable power to put citizens on a list to be assassinated without due process of law merely on the basis of an unproven government assertion. How does this differ from Stalinist Russia and Gestapo Germany? The transformation of the US into a police state has been achieved quickly and with scant protest. Congress and the courts are silent. The media is silent, as are the law schools and bar associations. Out of 535 US Senators and Representatives, only Ron Paul has protested the destruction of liberty. Editor's Note: Dr. Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, How the Economy Was Lost, has just been published.

New Murdoch Scandal Revealed
Guardian (United Kingdom), Wall Street Journal circulation scam claims senior Murdoch executive, Nick Davies, Oct. 13, 2011. Andrew Langhoff resigns as European publishing chief after exposure of secret channels of cash to help boost sales figures. One of Rupert Murdoch's most senior European executives has resigned following Guardian inquiries about a circulation scam at News Corporation's flagship newspaper, the Wall Street Journal. The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal's true circulation. The bizarre scheme included a formal, written contract in which the Journal persuaded one company to co-operate by agreeing to publish articles that promoted its activities, a move which led some staff to accuse the paper's management of violating journalistic ethics and jeopardizing its treasured reputation for editorial quality.

Coverage of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Movement

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Can OWS be turned into a Democratic Party movement? The pro-Obama camp is trying to co-opt the OWS movement. But it's not going to happen, Glenn Greenwald, Oct. 11, 2011. When I first wrote in defense of the Occupy Wall Street protests a couple of weeks ago, I suggested that much of the scorn then being expressed by many progressives was “grounded in the belief that the only valid form of political activism is support for Democratic Party candidates.” Since then, even the most establishment Democrats have fundamentally changed how they talk about the protests — from condescension and hostility to respect and even support — and The New York Times today makes clear one significant factor accounting for this change: Leading Democratic figures, including party fund-raisers and a top ally of President Obama, are embracing the spread of the anti-Wall Street protests in a clear sign that members of the Democratic establishment see the movement as a way to align disenchanted Americans with their party. As Robert Reich recently pointed out, OWS and the Democratic Party are not exactly natural allies given that “Obama has been extraordinarily solicitous of Wall Street and big business” and that “a big share of both parties’ campaign funds comes from the Street and corporate board rooms.” Would it not be a bit odd for a protest movement to “Occupy Wall Street” while simultaneously devoting itself to keeping Wall Street’s most lavishly funded politician in power?

Business Insider, Protesters Are So Angry About..., Henry Blodget, Oct. 11, 2011. So far, the protests seem fueled by a collective sense that things in our economy are not fair or right. But the protesters have not done a good job of focusing their complaints—and thus have been skewered as malcontents who don't know what they stand for or want. (An early list of "grievances" included some legitimate beefs, but was otherwise just a vague attack on "corporations." Given that these are the same corporations that employ more than 100 million Americans and make the products we all use every day, this broadside did not resonate with most Americans). Do they have legitimate gripes? Yes, they have very legitimate gripes. The problem in a nutshell is this: Inequality in this country has hit a level that has been seen only once in the nation's history, and unemployment has reached a level that has been seen only once since the Great Depression. And, at the same time, corporate profits are at a record high.

Huffington Post, Business Insider Uses Charts To Elucidate Precisely Why There Is An 'Occupy Wall Street' Movement, Jason Linkins, Oct. 12, 2011. The Editors Of The New Republic Find These Wall Street Protests To Be Oh-So-Terribly Gauche! In a move that's not going to take anyone who's currently a member of America's working class by surprise, the editors of the New Republic have come out against the Occupy Wall Street movement. There's just something about ordinary people that rubs the well-heeled minds of America's premiere catalog of bourgeois thoughts the wrong way!

Huffington Post, Occupy Wall Street Vs. Erin Burnett: A Primer In Media Failure, Jason Linkins, Oct. 7, 2011. Yesterday, Salon's Glenn Greenwald, left, did a fairly masterful job filleting the myopic and condescending way CNN's new hire Erin Burnett chose to cover the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Greenwald is hardly alone in his criticism. The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik did much the same, saying, "Two of the fundamental attributes of good journalism are curiosity and a respect for the people on whom you report. Burnett got an "F" on both those counts with her Occupy Wall Street piece." Yesterday, I pointed to Jay Rosen, who highlighted short-lived tweets from CNN's Alison Kosik, documenting the fact that the failings Zurawik notes appear to be systemic at CNN.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, What's behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests? Glenn Greenwald, Sept. 28, 2011. It's unsurprising that establishment media outlets have been condescending, dismissive and scornful of the ongoing protests on Wall Street.  Any entity that declares itself an adversary of prevailing institutional power is going to be viewed with hostility by establishment-serving institutions and their loyalists….In sum, there is a sprawling apparatus of federal and local militarized police forces and private corporate security designed to send this message: if you participate in protests or other forms of dissent outside of harmless approved channels, you're going to be harmed in numerous ways.


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