Posted by Thomas Baldwin, March 9, 2015
This is an important collection of web posts and blogs on the critical nature of the Fast Track and TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) trade agreements about to be considered in Congress and being strongly supported by Barack Obama. If one reads the critiques of what is known about these “secret” agreements, the net impact upon the U.S. is disastrous in numerous instances. The article included here give details of those huge defects. TPP is often referred to as NAFTA on steroids and the results of the latter show that about 1,000,000 jobs in the U.S. have been lost since its enaction under Clinton in 1993. These agreements are always represented as “creating” large numbers of jobs and improving the worsening trade deficit. Both in the case of NAFTA and the Korean Trade Agreement exactly the reverse has occurred.
It is imperative that Congress and especially Obama be stopped! These articles show ways you can be involved both my supporting these organizations fighting these agreements and by contacting Congress and the Obama administration in large numbers with petitions, calls and letters. STOP FAST TRACK AND STOP THE TPP.
TPP: THE DIRTIEST TRADE DEAL YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF!
Newsletter: At A Critical Juncture, Rise Up!
Excerpted from: POPULAR RESISTANCE NEWSLETTER
March 7, 2015
By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, www.popularresistance.org
March 7th, 2015
Fast Track is a Game Changer
The struggle that we are putting most of our energy towards for the next few months is to stop Congress from giving the president fast track trade promotion authority. This would allow the president for the next seven years to negotiate deals in secret and sign them before they go to Congress for limited review, no amendments and an up-or-down vote. We can’t emphasize enough how dangerous this is!
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which is nearly completed, goes way beyond typical trade deals. Most of the chapters are on issues not related to trade but that would instead enhance corporate rights and power. Although the TPP has been negotiated in secret, it will require that all of our laws, down to the local level, be ‘harmonized’ with the agreement. It would allow multinational corporations to challenge our laws to protect our communities and the planet through an extrajudicial trade tribunal run in part by corporate lawyers. This is called Investor State Dispute Settlement and Sen. Warren wrote about it in the Washington Post.
Corporations are writing laws that enhance their profits even though they harm our health and safety. Alison Rose Levy describes how this affects the food we eat. And leaks of text from the European version, called TTIP, show how the agreement will destroy the National Health System in the UK.
The President is currently putting tremendous pressure on Congress for fast track in order to complete negotiations of and sign the TPP. The administration went so far as to lie about fast track after the day that Sen Warren’s article was published and eight Senators spoke out on the senate floor.
We have been very focused on Sen. Wyden, who is the key person in the Senate, and have been sitting-in at his DC office. Thousands of people are calling his office and jamming his lines and it’s having an effect (His number is 202 224 5244). The President wanted fast track legislation on his desk by the end of March, but it won’t be introduced in the Senate until mid-April. This gives us more time to ramp up the public pressure and we need to do that because the Chamber of Commerce is getting ready to launch a $160 million ad campaign.
Click here for a link to information about how you can get involved. Here are the basics:
- Join the weekly “Fast Track Resistance” National Calls – starting on Wednesday, March 11 at 9 pm Eastern/6 pm Pacific, we’ll host weekly education and organizing calls to teach about Fast Track and the TPP, provide legislative updates and organize specific actions. We’ll have activists on hand to facilitate break-out groups where you’ll learn how to organize teach-ins, do visibility actions, use social media to have an impact and reach legislators with your message. You must register for the call. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.
- March 13 is the National Day to ‘Drop in and Hang Out’– Representatives will be in their home districts on recess so people across the country will hold rolling sit-ins like we’ve been doing for the past 2 weeks in Senator Ron Wyden’s office. It’s easy to do. Just go to your member’s local office during office hours and hold a sign urging them to oppose Fast Track. Bring your friends. Take pictures and share them on social media. Urge those who can’t join you to call in to the office. CLICK HERE TO FIND OR POST AN ACTION.
- Join the Rapid Response Team– you’ve probably seen some of us ‘dropping in and hanging out’ in Sen. Wyden’s office over the past 2 weeks. It has had an effect but we understand that Sen. Wyden is trying to make a deal with Sen. Hatch to support Fast Track legislation. We’ve got to stop him from from doing that.
We have plans for a larger action and we need you. Please let us know if you can join us in DC on Thursday, March 19. Contact Mackenzie@PopularResistance.org.
The End of the Nation-State?
We are at a critical juncture in world history. We live in a globalized world. That is the reality. But at present, it is a world that is increasingly dominated by multi-national corporations and big finance capital that controls national policies. The result of this system is exploitation of people and the planet and the use of the security state to oppress those who resist or to gather resources.
William Dalrymple reminds us of the serious consequences that can result from such an arrangement in his article about the East India Company.
It is up to us to rise together and fight back, to resist the expansion of corporate power and to build new systems that are more democratic, just and sustainable. We are with you in this struggle. People power, applied strategically, can succeed.
We also need your financial support to do this work. Please click here to make a tax-deductible donation.
Stop the Global Corporate Coup!
BLOG PAGE AT POPULAR RESISTANCE
We are at a critical juncture in world history. We live in a globalized world. That is the reality. But at present, it is a world that is increasingly dominated by multi-national corporations and big finance capital that controls national policies. The result of this system is exploitation of people and the planet and the use of the security state to oppress those who resist or to gather resources. William Dalrymple reminds us of the serious consequences that can result from such an arrangement in his article about the East India Company. It is up to us to rise together and fight back, to resist the expansion of corporate power and to build new systems that are more democratic, just and sustainable. We are with you in this struggle. People power, applied strategically, can succeed.
The battle over building the Keystone XL pipeline is having an impact far from its proposed route. One of those places is the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a city of 100,000 known for its educated and engaged citizens. The city currently purchases the electricity that powers its municipal buildings from TransCanada, Keystone XL’s parent company. But now its city council has passed a unanimous resolution advising city manager Richard Rossi not to do business with the company once its current contract expires at the end of 2015 and to look at acquiring the city’s electricity from clean, renewable sources. The measure was sponsored by councillor Dennis Carlone.
These trade agreements are structured solely in the interest of corporate gain. The TPP and Fast Track are bringing together odd bedfellows like in Spokane, Wash., where Tea Party members and Occupiers are coming together in opposition. Eleanor Goldfield, a musician with Rooftop Revolutionaries and activist with the Rolling Rebellion, says passage of the TPP and Fast Track would “turn corporate personhood into corporate nationhood by creating international court systems and trade tribunals that allow corporations to challenge laws enacted by countries in the interest of public health, safety and justice.” With this sovereignty, corporations would hold sway over nearly every facet of our lives, from food to Internet access. As Julian Assange wrote, “If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”
Fast track is a process under which Congress agrees to bypass its duty to define, consider, debate and approve trade deals. Fast track limits discussion and debate and gives Congress only 90 days in which to bring the deal up for a vote. It is a rigged process designed to ensure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, the “history’s largest trade deal“, is pushed through Congress before the public has time to fully analyze, understand and consider its ramifications and organize opposition if opposition is warranted. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has said that negotiations on a new fast-track trade promotion authority bill are “stuck” and no bill will be introduced before April. On the one hand this is a good sign; there is enough opposition that they are holding back the bill. On the other hand, this could mean that the bill will be introduced with a very short time for legislators to consider its full implications before having to vote on it.
TPP Protest Froman miffed as KZ and Dick Ochs hold banner behind him. Source Reuters.
Anti-Fast-Track Momentum Builds
Read more at: http://ourfuture.org/20150305/anti-fast-track-momentum-builds or
By Dave Johnson, www.ourfuture.org
March 7th, 2015
Opponents of fast track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are gaining momentum. In spite of a virtual media blackout, public awareness of the coming trade deal is increasing.
More and more public-interest organizations are organizing and denouncing the rigged fast-track approval process and TPP trade agreement. One after another, members of Congress are announcing opposition to fast track and demanding that trade problems like currency manipulation be covered by the TPP agreement.
Meanwhile, the expected fast track bill has been delayed again.
Fast Track “Stuck”
Fast track is a process under which Congress agrees to bypass its duty to define, consider, debate and approve trade deals. Fast track limits discussion and debate and gives Congress only 90 days in which to bring the deal up for a vote. It is a rigged process designed to ensure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, the “history’s largest trade deal“, is pushed through Congress before the public has time to fully analyze, understand and consider its ramifications and organize opposition if opposition is warranted.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has said that negotiations on a new fast-track trade promotion authority bill are “stuck” and no bill will be introduced before April. On the one hand this is a good sign; there is enough opposition that they are holding back the bill. On the other hand, this could mean that the bill will be introduced with a very short time for legislators to consider its full implications before having to vote on it. Also, it would mean there is little time for any media reporting that might occur, and for the broad general public to register opposition or support.
The Sticking Point
The delay of the fast-track bill appears to be based on Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s insistence that the fast-track “protection” process have a way to be revoked if TPP does not do what Congress wanted it to do. According to a behind-paywall Politico report (and other reports), Wyden wants to be able to strip TPP of fast track protections “if lawmakers decide that the administration failed to adequately consult with Congress or ignored its negotiating objectives.” Senator Hatch refuses to allow this to be put into the fast-track bill.
In other words, Republicans (and the big corporations that sponsor them) are resisting Democratic efforts to be able to set aside the rigged fast track process if the TPP turns out to not follow Congress’ objectives for the agreement.
But fast track is, in part, being sold as a way for Congress to define the terms of trade agreements. For example, the U.S. Trade Representative website promises, “TPA [fast track] is a legislative procedure, written by Congress, through which Congress defines U.S. negotiating objectives and spells out a detailed oversight and consultation process for during trade negotiations.”
The Chamber of Commerce also promises that under TPA, “Congress defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the President to follow throughout the negotiation process.”
In another example, this American Enterprise Institute (AEI) promotion of fast track saysthat “the president agrees to negotiate trade agreements pursuant to objectives and priorities established by the Congress; in return, Congress agrees to an expedited up-or-down vote on the agreement and implementing legislation, without amendment.” Also that, “Congress’s most potent power to dictate the substance of future agreements comes through the negotiating mandates it gives to the president when it passes the TPA.”
So fast track is being sold as a way for Congress to define the terms of TPP and set objectives – but Republican Sen. Hatch is refusing to include the ability to revoke fast track if it does not do what Congress has said it must. In other words, if the big corporations and Republicans get their way, Congress does not get to set the terms after all.
Other TPP Problems
A Los Angeles Times op-ed by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, “Let’s debate the Trans-Pacific Partnership – history’s largest trade deal – before OKing it,” explains some of the problems with TPP – at least from what we know from leaks of the secret, corporate-negotiated agreement,
What’s been leaked about its proposals reveals, for example, that the pharmaceutical industry would get stronger patent protections, delaying cheaper generic versions of drugs.
The deal also gives global corporations an international tribunal of private attorneys, outside any nation’s legal system, that can order compensation for lost expected profits resulting from a nation’s regulations, including our own. These extraordinary rights for corporations put governments on the defensive over legitimate public health or environmental rules.
The deal would encourage and reward American corporations for outsourcing even more jobs abroad. And it does nothing to prevent other nations from manipulating their currencies to boost their exports and undermine the competitiveness of U.S.-made products.
Currency manipulation is one of the biggest problems in trade today. Countries like China and Japan manipulate the value of their currency, causing goods made in their countries to cost less – up to 40 percent less – than goods from countries with “stronger” currencies. One result is that the U.S. currently has a very strong currency – the strongest in 11 years – and imports have surged so far beyond exports that we have an enormous, humongous trade deficit. It is estimated that currency manipulation is costing up to 5.8 million U.S. jobs.
Several members of Congress from both parties have demanded that rules about currency manipulation be included in the TPP.
Five senators — Democrats Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Republicans Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) — delivered a similar message, saying they will withhold their support for trade promotion authority (TPA) and any trade agreements that don’t tackle the currency issue.
Graham said there appears to be “growing support” among Republicans and Democrats for the U.S. to put up a fight against countries that deliberately manipulate their currency.
“I believe there is bipartisan opposition to any trade agreement that doesn’t deal with currency,” said Graham, a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
Stabenow argued that she and other lawmakers have been in discussions with the Obama administration at every level, so the latest push “isn’t a surprise.”
Brown said without a focus on currency, it would be “strike three” for the trade agenda.
In another Tuesday briefing, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) said any trade deal “like TPP without strong enforceable currency manipulation provisions is bad for American workers, bad for businesses, and bad trade policy.”
But while members of Congress say currency rules must be included in the TPP, Reuters reports that currency-manipulating countries do not want to change. From “Japanese official: Adding currency rules would kill Pacific trade pact“:
Any effort to add rules against currency cheating in a 12-nation Pacific trade pact would mean the end of negotiations, a senior Japanese negotiator said on Tuesday.
Some U.S. lawmakers are pushing for a currency chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is near completion, partly due to concerns about a weak Japanese yen.
But Japan’s deputy chief trade negotiator, Hiroshi Oe, told reporters there were no discussions about currency manipulation, and if the issue was brought to the table it would mean the end of negotiations.
The U.S. administration and other TPP partners have also warned against introducing currency into the deal.
This is another sign of momentum against TPP. And if Hatch and the Republicans get their way Democrats can’t even revoke fast track if they have specified that TPP mustinclude currency rules but then TPP shows up without currency rules. Too bad, so sad, gotta vote within 90 days anyway.
Workers Urge Congress to Oppose Fast Track
Wednesday the AFL-CIO organized a “Lobby Day On Trade.” Nearly 400 labor leaders, workers and allies from more than 20 states came to Washington D.C. to ask members of Congress to oppose fast track, holding meetings with more than 120 senators, members of Congress and staff.
The day began with a press conference with representatives Rose DeLauro, Peter DeFazio, Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva, along with Tom Chamberlain, Oregon AFL-CIO President; Art Pulaski, California AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer and Chief Officer; Ilana Solomon, Director of Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program and Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA of Maryland.
Grijalva (D-Ariz.) talked about the promises made to sell NAFTA, and how we have “an opportunity to get it right, to get the focus off the interests of the richest corporations and on to the needs of the working people of this country.”
“Stopping fast track is essential to the public’s right to know, the protections that we want for working families, and for once Congress exerting their authority on the very critical economic issues and quality of life issues,” he said. “We are here because we care about jobs.”
Solomon of Sierra Club said, “If Congress fast tracks the deal it will affect everyone and everything in our daily lives. For example, the TPP will require the Department of Energy to automatically approve all exports of natural gas to all countries in the agreement, leading to more fracking, more emissions and higher electricity prices.” She added, “People across the country are speaking out against the agreement and rightfully so.”
“We’ve got a big coalition here,” Ellison (D-Minn.) said. “We have every right to feel confident and enthusiastic that we will win. Because we’re not by ourselves.”
Ellison described a visit to see the agreement, being told he could not bring a member of his staff who understands trade law, could not take notes and could not see the agreement in its entirety. He said this inhibits his ability to represent his district.
“You could do a good trade deal with Congress, it would just mean that every community that is affected would have a say-so,” he said. “Now, what’s wrong with that?”
- Is Wyden Moving Against Fast Track? February 24, 2015
- Get Ready Now For Fast Track Fight December 25, 2014
- Now Or Never: Fight Back Against Fast Track January 9, 2015
- Fast Track Not A Done Deal, The People Will Stop It January 18, 2015
- National Organizing To Stop Fast Track March 6, 2015
- Power to select trade partners,
- Power to set terms and sign sweeping “trade” agreements before Congress votes on them,
- Power to write legislation to change all U.S. laws needed to conform with the agreements, skirt congressional review and amendments and directly submit this legislation for a vote,
- Power to force votes within 60-90 days of submitting the implementing legislation to Congress,
- Power to override normal voting rules. All amendments on Fast-Tracked FTAs are banned and debate is limited, including in the Senate.
JANUARY 10, 2014 | BY MAIRA SUTTON
Stopping Fast Track is One Way We Can Block TPP
U.S. Congress members introduced a bill yesterday to “fast track” trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress. If passed, lawmakers would only have a small window of time to conduct hearings over binding trade provisions and give an up-or-down vote on ratification without any ability to amend the terms before they bind the U.S. government. This legal arrangement is at odds with the spirit of the Constitution, which gives Congress authority over U.S. trade policy. Fast track authority (also known as Trade Promotion Authority or TPA) means that Congress hands that power over to the White House and the U.S. Trade Representative. Stopping fast track is one crucial step towards blocking secretive and undemocratic agreements like TPP and the EU-US trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The bill is titled the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act” or TPA 2014 for short. The press release for the bill claims that it “provides greater transparency and gives Congress greater oversight of the Administration’s trade negotiations.” This is grossly misleading to say the least. Fast-track would ensure that there’s even less transparency and less oversight around trade negotiations that we have seen around the likes of TPP.
The White House Has Gone Full Doublespeak On Fast Track And The TPP
from the up-is-down,-black-is-white dept
Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Orrin Hatch are now in a stand-off over a bill that would put secretive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement on the Fast Track to passage through Congress. The White House meanwhile, has intensified their propaganda campaign, going so far as to mislead the public about how trade deals—like the TPP and its counterpart, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—will effect the Internet and users’ rights. They are creating videos, writing several blog posts, and then this week, even sent out a letter from an “online small business owner” to everyone on the White House’s massive email list, to further misinform the public about Fast Track.
In a blog post published this week, the White House flat out uses doublespeak to tout the benefits of the TPP, even going so far as to claim that without these new trade agreements, “there would be no rules protecting American invention, artistic creativity, and research”. That is pure bogus, much like the other lies the White House has been recently saying about its trade policies. Let’s look at the four main myths they have been saying to sell lawmakers and the public on Fast Track for the TPP.
Myth #1: TPP Is Good for the Internet
Myth #2: Fast Track Would Strengthen Congressional Oversight
Myth #3: Small Online Businesses Would Benefit from Fast Track
Myth #4: TPP and Other Secret Trade Deals Are a National Security Issue
CONLUSION: The fact that the White House has resorted to distorting the truth about its trade policies is enough to demonstrate how little the administration values honesty and transparency in policy making, and how much the public stands to lose from these agreements negotiated in secret. The more they try and espouse the potential gains from Fast Track—while the trade agreements this legislation would advance remain secret—the more reason we ought to be skeptical. If the TPP is so great and if Fast Track would in fact enable more democratic oversight, why are the contents of either of them still not public?
Reposted from the Electronic Frontier Foundation Deeplinks blog
WED, 3/11/2015 – BY KEVIN ZEESE AND MARGARET FLOWERS
Conclusions: Excerpted from above article
Which Path Forward? What You Can Do
David Sogge writes in the “State of Davos” that “by custom and by law, the formal management of international affairs is a matter for sovereign nations and their representatives.” He points out “the UN Charter begins with ‘We the peoples’ and affirms the ‘equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.’”
As globalization begins its third decade, the question before us is, do we want corporate rule or people’s rule? Is the wealth of a few more important than human rights? What can be done to empower people? Should the nation-state become a thing of the past and corporate sovereignty reign, or is there another path? This is a debate that cannot be fast tracked; it must be brought into the open before trade agreements cement corporate rule for decades to come.
We urge people to put their effort into stopping fast track legislation in Congress. This will not be easy because it is high on the president’s agenda, many pro-business legislators and entities like the Chamber of Congress. It can only be stopped if people work together persistently to oppose it. Get involved here.
We expect that as fast track legislation moves through Congress, the White House and corporate lobbyists will inundate members of Congress with promises in exchange for votes. In the past, votes were held open past the legal time limit as members of Congress were picked off one by one until there were enough votes to pass.
We need to maintain persistent pressure on Congress to oppose fast track. When we stop fast track, there should be a broad discussion of our vision for a globalized world structured to support universal human rights and protection of the planet.
Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers co-direct Popular Resistance and have been working to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the fast tracking of trade agreements during a three-year campaign.