Archive for April, 2018

The Rise and Fall of Tony Podesta

Thursday, April 19th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

Tony Podesta’s lobbying firm ended in 2015 as the third largest in Washington D.C., according to the Wall Street Journal. The firm had about 30 million dollars in revenue from over 100 different clients from Google to Wells Fargo. His firm had great potential with Hillary Clinton on the 2016 Presidential ballot as well. Podesta was one of Washington’s most influential players.

Until it all fell apart.

In 2016, with “financial problems, legal threats and the election of President Donald Trump,” his clients all disappeared. This tumble from the throne occurred due to Podesta’s ties to Paul Manafort- Trump’s former campaign manager- and questions about whether the firm did work for a Russian bank under sanctions. One of the few things that could have saved Podesta’s status would have been the election of Hillary Clinton, however that did not go to plan for him either. Then, Podesta decided to step down from the firm.

During the heyday of the Podesta group, Mr. Podesta “drew an annual salary of more than two million dollars and made millions more in commissions and bonuses.” According to fundraising records, “he and Heather Podesta together donated more money to the Democratic Party and its candidates than any other Washington lobbyists in the past decade.” Podesta not only ruled Washington lobbyists, but he was also the socialite, restauranteur and art collector every Washington insider strived to be. However, his love of art drove a wedge between him and Mrs. Podesta and they eventually filed for divorce in 2014. After the divorce, Podesta began to take on clients simply for their monetary value, such as the NRA, much to the dismay of his Democratic Party base supporters and his own employees. One lobbyist quit and cost the Podesta Group two million dollars in revenue. Podesta’s overseas business doubled from 2011 to 2015. His clients included the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Iraq and the government of South Sudan.

Return of the TPP?

Thursday, April 12th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

Amid the trade dispute with China, President Trump is currently weighing the possibility of rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to the Washington Post. The original intent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by the Obama administration was to “counter China’s influence,” but Trump did not agree with that decision and pulled the U.S. out of the deal in early 2017. Economic Council Director Larry Ludlow and two GOP Senators suggested that the U.S. needs to “do business with all the people [China’s] doing business with in the region: their competitors.” Trump’s response was to tell the group to consider getting the U.S. back into the TPP.

“Engaging in talks to reenter the TPP would be part of a broader White House strategy to respond to an escalating trade flap between Trump and Beijing.” Trump believes the U.S. has been part of many unfair trade deals with China, so he has taken a hard line approach to dealing with the Chinese on trade. However, he has not succeeded at rallying other countries to “backstop” his approach involving new tariffs. The TPP involved the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia and a number of other countries. It was intended to create a sense of power in numbers when dealing with China on trade.

The deal, however, never went into effect. Trump refused to sign the trade deal because he believes the United States has been “ripped off” in large multinational trade deals in the past. Further, he has a general distaste for any Obama-era decisions. President Obama wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in May 2016 aiming to rally support for domestic political backing in entering the deal. He wrote, “increasing trade in this area of the world would be a boon to American businesses and American workers, and it would give us a leg up on our economic competitors, including one we hear a lot about on the campaign trail these days: China.” However, Trump refused to participate in the partnership at that point.