I don’t seem to be an optimist, but for some reason, I keep thinking that NPR will do some real reporting, something other than what is dished out by their anonymous “government sources”. So I was listening the other morning, and the conversation was something like this, I will paraphrase:
The President is attaching a lot of importance to getting the go-ahead for “fast-track” authority to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
[Now since when, I ask, has Mr. Obama been seen as trying to pass something that was good? What kind of press was given to the Affordable Care Act, for one? But now, suddenly, anything he presents is being pushed as something wonderful, and they seem to ask, “ why on earth would anyone oppose something so universally important as ‘trade’”?
NPR goes on, and remember, this is what’s supposed to inform American voters: (My paraphrase).
But for some unknown reason, members of his own party are standing in the way of our wonderful President and this wonderful, perfectly reasonable trade deal, the TPP. How can this be? What do these Democrats have against trade?
Disclosure: I tried to credit my cut-and-pastes from other web sites, but may not have. Some of this article was cut-and-pasted passages from other sites.
Even rabid right-wing commentators such as David Brooks (who deceptively plays the role of a centrist moderate) have been trotted out to push the TPP. The trouble is, what he said was 100% WRONG! Here it is, along with a link to the article from FAIR, (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting):
David Brooks pulled out all the stops, using his New York Times column (6/16/15) to yell at “Tea Party” Democrats for not supporting the fast-track authority that would facilitate passage of the TPP.
Unfortunately, Brooks was largely unarmed with facts when it came to the attack. To start, he tells readers;
The North American Free Trade Agreement, for example, probably didn’t affect the American economy too much. But the Mexican economy has taken off. With more opportunities, Mexican workers feel less need to sneak into the US.
Brooks also seems to be inventive in his assessment of patterns of immigration. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the number of Mexican immigrants to the United States rose from 4.3 million in 1990 to 11.7 million by 2010.
Me again: IT DID AFFECT THE U.S. ECONOMY, TOO. And the TPP is similar, in the way it works, and in the way it is being pushed through, with SECRET content, and all.
The following is from Popular Resistance:
for the financial industry, TPP would weaken member country restrictions on capital flows across their borders, freeing foreign investments but increasing risk in more insulated economies like Malaysia or Chile.
The rules amount to a trans-Pacific regulatory cap. “It creates a subsidy for our firms to locate in TPP member countries and export back to us,” says Damon Silvers, policy director for the AFL-CIO. “This is not something you would be concerned about if you wanted to create jobs in the United States.”
This is enforced in part by investor-state dispute settlement, where corporations can sue for damages in a separate court system, over trade violations they claim cut into their profits. TPP even removes the “essential security” exemption, so foreign investors can file ISDS challenges on what governments claim to be national security decisions. This effectively creates an insurance policy for large firms to move operations, robbing the United States of their one competitive advantage over low-wage countries: a well-developed rule of law. Froman has staunchly defended ISDS, telling the Washington Ideas Forum last October, “It’s hard to imagine a high-standard agreement that doesn’t have the high standard of investment protections as well.”
Past dispute settlement arrangements have had serious consequences. The Obama administration insists that trade agreements cannot change U.S. laws, but in May, WTO ruled against U.S. “country-of-origin labeling” for meat, prompting Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to say that Congress would have to repeal the statute. In addition, the Canadian finance minister recently alleged that the Volcker Rule, a key Dodd-Frank measure restricting risky proprietary trading, violates NAFTA. ISDS would allow corporations rather than national governments to assert these challenges and win monetary damages.
By the way, did you know that, even under present law, the tobacco industry is in a lawsuit with Uruguay, over their attempt to label cigarette packages with graphic pictures of cancerous wounds caused by smoking and chewing. This is the kind of thing that will grow exponentially, if TPP gets instituted.
The following is from Alternet:
Of particular concern to the tech community is an “Investment Chapter” of the TPP drafted in 2010 and leaked by Wikileaks. The letter’s signatories argue the provisions would allow corporations to use an international legal system to override national sovereignty: “The TPP Investment Chapter contains text that would enable corporations to sue nations over democratic rules that allegedly harm expected future profits. Companies can use this process to undermine US rules like fair use, net neutrality, and others designed to protect the free, open internet and users’ rights to free expression online.”
SO, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WE IN THE USA FIND OURSELVES BEING SCREWED OVER. ONE MIGHT ASK, WHY? Why are our representatives working against the people who elected them, and not FOR THEM?
Perhaps it will help to see how much money each Congressman has received from the wealthy, the 1%, who stand to benefit from this trade pact, at the expense of EVERYONE ELSE.
Using data from the Federal Election Commission, this chart shows all donations that corporate members of the US Business Coalition for TPP made to US Senate campaigns between January and March 2015, when fast-tracking the TPP was being debated in the Senate:
- Out of the total $1,148,971 given, an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the 65 “yea” votes.
- The average Republican member received $19,673.28 from corporate TPP supporters.
- The average Democrat received $9,689.23 from those same donors.
The amounts given rise dramatically when looking at how much each senator running for re-election received.
Two days before the fast-track vote, Obama was a few votes shy of having the filibuster-proof majority he needed. Ron Wyden and seven other Senate Democrats announced they were on the fence on 12 May, distinguishing themselves from the Senate’s 54 Republicans and handful of Democrats as the votes to sway.
- In just 24 hours, Wyden and five of those Democratic holdouts – Michael Bennet of Colorado, Dianne Feinstein of California, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington, and Bill Nelson of Florida – caved and voted for fast-track.
- Bennet, Murray, and Wyden – all running for re-election in 2016 – received $105,900 between the three of them. Bennet, who comes from the more purple state of Colorado, got $53,700 in corporate campaign donations between January and March 2015, according to Channing’s research.
- Almost 100% of the Republicans in the US Senate voted for fast-track – the only two non-votes on TPA were a Republican from Louisiana and a Republican from Alaska.
- Here are the Democrats who voted for Fast Track last time with phone numbers and twitter handles:
- Michael Bennet (CO) 202 224 5852 @senbennetco
Maria Cantwell (WA) 202 224 3441 @cantwellpress
Ben Cardin (MD) 202 224 4524 @senatorcardin
Tom Carper (DE) 202 224 2441 @senatorcarper
Chris Coons (DE) 202 224 5042 @sencoonsoffice
Dianne Feinstein (CA) 202 224 3841 @senfeinstein
Heidi Heitkamp (ND) 202 224 2043 @senatorheitkamp
Tim Kaine (VA) 202 224 4024 @senkaineoffice
Claire McCaskill (MO) 202 224 6154 @mccaskilloffice
Patty Murray (WA) 202 224 2621 @pattymurray
Bill Nelson (FL) 202 225 5274 @senbillnelson
Jeanne Shaheen (NH) 202 224 2841 @senatorshaheen
Mark Warner (VA) 202 224 2023 @markwarner
Ron Wyden (OR) 202 224 5244 @ronwyden
Please call these, even the ones that are not from your state, and leave them an appropriately angry message, not that it will be heeded, unless accompanied by a five figure check.